November 10, 2011
John H. Schroeder “Mr. Polk’s War”: A Précis
In this book historian John H. Schroeder discusses the history of the Mexican-American War. Schroeder focuses specifically on the controversy about the war and the opposition that the war faced from both the American and Mexican people. The Mexican American War occurred between 1846 and 1848 and was essentially a conflict between Mexico and the United States over who would have control over former Spanish colonies such as, Texas, California, New Mexico, and Arizona. Schroeder states that this conflict and the controversy over the war began after the United States annexed the Mexican territory of Texas in 1846. This is a conflict that had been ongoing since the Texas Revolution of 1836 and was perceived as part of President James Polk’s aim for westward expansion of United States territories from the Atlantic to the Pacific seaboards. (Schroeder, p.1-5)
In the first section of the book Schroeder discusses the theoretical and historical basis for his text. He argues that Polk’s War as it was colloquially known was controversial for several reasons. First, members of the Whig Party and abolitionists opposed the Mexican-American War. Whigs opposed it because they felt that the United States should maintain the isolationist policies of the past and that they had no right to interfere in territories controlled by Mexico. Abolitionists argued against this war because they felt that the Southern states would have the advantage in gaining control over new territory gained from Westward expansion and that this would result in more areas becoming open to slavery.
This discussion gives rise to questions about the roots of the Civil War that would occur a mere 12 years later as Schroeder focuses upon the idea that concern over states rights and slavery created a conflict between different political groups in Washington. A schism would occur over the Mexican-American War with the Whigs opposing...