History of the War with Mexico - H. O. Ladd

Closing Events of the War

Desire for peace—Political changes in Mexico—Proposals for treaty of peace—Appointment of commissioners—Ratification of the treaty—Its terms—Evacuation of the capital and the country—Return of the soldiers to their homes—Conclusion.

The Mexican people had now succumbed to the victorious armies of the "barbarians of the North." The Mexican Government was favorable to the settlement of the questions which had caused this unhappy war. A new administration was in power. General Anaya on the 11th of November was elected President of the Mexican Republic until the 8th of January, 1848, when the constitutional term of office would expire. This election indicated the prevailing sentiment among the people. The increase of American garrisons in the chief cities; the occupation of the capital itself; the orders of General Scott requiring all taxes hitherto paid to the Mexican Government to be paid henceforth to the United States, and the actual enforcement of these orders in the capital and in some of the silver-mines, had subdued the warlike spirit of the citizens. The continuance of the war involved the final subjugation of Mexico and its annexation to the United States. The territory now held by American troops for which compensation had been offered would be retained by right of conquest, if Mexico persisted in the war. National pride therefore bowed to the necessities of the republic, and the deputies assembled in the Mexican Congress favored the organization of a commission for the purpose of reopening negotiations with Mr. Trist, who still remained in Mexico, and was determined to assume the responsibility of acting still as agent of the United States. The lack of cooperation by the adherents of Santa Anna prevented immediate action on the part of these commissioners.

On the 8th of January, 1848, General Herrera was elected Constitutional President of the Mexican Republic by the people, who had fully awakened to the peril of their national independence. Yielding whatever portion of their country they were too weak to defend, they resolved to save, by an honorable treaty, what yet remained. Mr. Trist's rash act did not result in any of the possible evils which this assumption of authority might have brought upon himself and others. Under the new administration negotiations were easily opened with a spirit of harmony and concession which indicated a happy issue. Mexico gave up her claim to the Nueces as the boundary-line of her territory, and the United States did not longer insist upon the cession of Lower California and the right of way across the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. The previous offer of money by the United States for the cession of New Mexico and Upper California was also continued, and also the method of settlement of claims for damages agreed upon in the conventions of 1839 and 1843.

On the 2nd of February, a treaty of peace was unanimously adopted and signed by the commissioners at the city of Guadaloupe Hidalgo.

The governors of the Mexican States were urged by the Mexican Minister of Foreign Affairs to induce the deputies soon to assemble to take immediate action. There was but little delay in obtaining their signatures, and the treaty having received the sanction of the Senate of the United States, March 9th, 1848, with a few amendments, the ratifications of the Mexican Congress and of the United States Senate were exchanged May 3oth, 1848.

The United States, by the terms of this treaty, paid to Mexico fifteen millions of dollars for the territory added to its boundaries. They moreover freed the Mexican Republic, from all claims of citizens of the United States against Mexico for damages, which the United States agreed to pay to the amount of three and one quarter millions of dollars. The boundary-line was also fixed between the two republics. It began in the Gulf of Mexico three miles from the mouth of the Rio Grande del Norte, running up the centre of that river to the point where it strikes the southern boundary of New Mexico; then westward along that southern boundary which runs north of El Paso, to its western termination; thence northward along the western line of New Mexico until it intersects the first branch of the river Gila, thence down the middle of the Gila until it empties into the Rio Colorado, following the division line between Upper and Lower California to the Pacific Ocean, one marine league south of the port of San Diego.

On the 12th of June, the last of the United States troops left the capital of Mexico, complimentary salutes having been given to the flags of both republics. The American soldiers returned to their homes in triumph, to receive memorials of praise for their patriotism and bravery from State Legislatures, the ovations of multitudes of citizens, and the happy greetings of friends and kindred, the echoes of which were heard for many months fir every part of the Union.

Never has a nation in modern times fought a more successful war of such brief duration. With her territory enormously increased, with the valor and skill of her army proved in hardly fought battles, and their endurance tested to the utmost, any nation could be at once proud and joyful in such sons, elated by such glory in war and by such a country of magnificent extent and untold resources of soil and climate, lakes and seas.

The curse of human slavery, for the maintenance of which the war with Mexico had its chief support and motive, yet stained this majestic domain. Ere it should be removed this nation would be baptized in blood. Then it would come forth with its free institutions and government, its vast wealth, its commercial greatness, and its Christian religion, to hold its glorious place in the mighty march of the nations toward the everlasting reign of the Prince of Peace.