Published on December 14, 2007
Week 5: Week 5 O’Sullivan, Bilbao, & the Mexican-American War The Hudson River School & American Romanticism/Wilderness Thoreau and “Civil Disobedience” Emancipation Section Discussion Topic: Jury Nullification: Section Discussion Topic: Jury Nullification The Mexican-American War (1846-1848): The Mexican-American War (1846-1848) The Mexican-American War : The Mexican-American War Slide5: Short History of the Mex-AM WarIn 1821, when Mexico achieved independence from Spain, the northern regions of Texas, New Mexico and California were sparsely populated with Native Americans and a few scattered settlements of European descendants. In 1823, Mexico, in hopes of strengthening her position in the north, let Stephen F. Austin set up a colony of Americans in Texas. Tensions between the Mexican government and the American colonists began to escalate in the 1830s, leading to an outbreak of fighting in late 1835 after Santa Anna overthrew the Mexican constitution and set up a dictatorship. Fighting between the Mexicans and Texans began in October and lasted until the spring of 1836, with the result that Texas became an independent republic. Mexico did not accept Texan independence and was outraged at the annexation of Texas by the United States in 1844-45, which led to a break off of diplomatic relations between the two nations . Slide6: President James K. Polk, who won his office by campaigning on a platform of "reannexation" of Texas, sent General Zachary Taylor to establish what he considered to be the 'proper' line for the disputed Texas-Mexico border. After a somewhat tentative attempt at negotiation, Taylor marched through the disputed territory lying between the Nueces and the Rio Grande rivers. This provoked, on April 25, 1846, an attack by the Mexicans on Taylor's army, and thus began the war. The American army and generals proved significantly superior to the Mexican forces and in less than a year and a half the American army had captured Mexico City and the Mexican Republic had to sue for an unfavorable peace: present day states pf AZ, NM, UT, NV, and CA. Under President Polk. Called “Polk’s War” for many of the same reasons the Iraq war is called Bush’s War. Polk was a real expansionist, and regarded California as the plum that would give US the whole continental West coast, and fulfill the manifest destiny idea. He first tried to buy it from Mexico, which had recently gotten won its own independence from Spain through revolutionary war. But after being rebuffed, he looked for an excuse for war, and soon enough found it, John O’Sullivan and “Manifest Destiny”: John O’Sullivan and “Manifest Destiny” “Texas has been absorbed into the Union in the inevitable fulfillment of the general law which is rolling our population westward.” (FHY 143) Natural settler’s movements will lead to independence, will lead to right to choose to join the Union. “The Anglo-Saxon foot is already on its borders” (California). Slide8: 'America' floating over the Plains, bringing light to the dark and desolate landscape and shows the way for settlers. Ahead of her are wild animals, buffalo and Indians (the darkness) turn and run leaving the way clear for settlement. The Second Industrial Revolution (1870-1920) is evident in the telegraph and the railway. Slide9: Throughout the 1840s westward expansion gained pace. People living in the crowded east were lured west with promises of inexpensive land and open spaces Homestead Act in 1841: the government of America passed an act that allowed people to purchase 160 acres of Plains land for a very small price. A further act passed in 1862 divided 2.5 million acres of Plains land into sections or homesteads of 160 acres. People could now claim 160 acres of land. The only requirement on their part was that they paid a small administration charge and built a house and lived on the land for at least 5 years. Bilbao’s response:The U.S. and Panama: Bilbao’s response: The U.S. and Panama 1856 “Watermelon War” a race riot in Panama City. Attack on “Yankee” passengers in the Panama Railroad Station, set off by a white Yankee who ‘bought’ a piece of watermelon from a local vendor without paying. “The Yankee replaces the American; Roman patriotism, philosophy; industry, charity; wealth, morality; and self-interest, justice” (F. Bilbao, FHY 146). Slide11: The arrival of hundreds of thousands of new people within a few years, compared to a population of some 15,000 Europeans and Californios beforehand, had many dramatic effects. The Gold Rush wealth and population increase led to significantly improved transportation between California and the East Coast. The Panama Railway, spanning the Isthmus of Panama, was finished in 1855 First, the human and environmental costs of the Gold Rush were substantial. Native Americans became the victims of disease, starvation and genocidal attacks; the Native American population, estimated at 150,000 in 1845, was less than 30,000 by 1870 Francisco Bilbao on American Expansionism: Francisco Bilbao on American Expansionism Bibao writes in 1856; concerned about American designs for further expansionism. SO it wasn’t just ‘Westward the course of empire takes its way, but Southward. History: In the 1840s, two decades after the Monroe Doctrine declared U.S. intentions to be the dominant imperial power in the Western Hemisphere, North American and French interests became excited about the prospects of constructing railroads and/or canals through Central America to quicken trans-oceanic travel. In 1846, the United States and Colombia signed the Bidlack Mallarino Treaty, granting the U.S. rights to build railroads through Panama, as well as the power to militarily intervene against revolt to guarantee Colombian control of the isthmus. From 1850 until 1903, the United States used troops to suppress independence revolts and quell social disturbances several times, creating a long-term animosity among the Panamanian people against the US military. The first such conflict was known as the Watermelon War of 1856, where white U.S. soldiers mistreated locals causing large-scale race riots that U.S. Marines eventually put down. So Bilbao is writing in the year of the Watermelon War, a race riot that occurred in Panama City, Panama, on the morning of April 15, 1856. Panamanians that once held jobs on the Trans-Panamanian Railroad project linking the Carib to the Paciifc. were left unemployed, because once the U.S. completed the trans-Panama railroad, they terminated the entire labor force. The U.S. then filled the administrative and supervisory roles with Americans, while only a few jobs were left for the Panamanians on the railroad lines. Slide13: Second part of the history-under what we called U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt’s “extension” of the Monroe Doctrine. Ross. convinced U.S. Congress to take on the abandoned works in 1902, while Colombia was in the midst of the Thousand Days War. During the war there were at least three attempts by Panamanian Liberals to seize control of Panama and potentially achieve independence, including one led by Liberal guerrillas like Belisario Porras and Victoriano Lorenzo, each of which was suppressed by a collaboration of Conservative Colombian and U.S. forces. By the middle of 1903, though, the Colombian government in Bogotá had balked at the prospect of a U.S. controlled canal under the terms that Roosevelt's administration was offering. The U.S. was unwilling to alter its terms and quickly changed tactics, encouraging a handful of Conservative Panamanian landholding families to demand a Panama independent from Colombia. The USS Nashville was dispatched to local waters around the city of Colón to deter any resistance from Bogotà and so, on November 3, 1903, with United States' encouragement and French financial support, Panama proclaimed its independence. Less than three weeks later, the Hay-Bunau Varilla Treaty was signed between the French and the United States, without a Panamanian in the room. The treaty allowed for the construction of a canal and US sovereignty over a strip of land 10 miles wide and 50 miles long, (16 kilometers by 80 kilometers) on either side of the Panama Canal Zone. In that zone, the U.S. would build a canal, then administer, fortify, and defend it "in perpetuity." California Gold Rush, 1848: California Gold Rush, 1848 California Gold Rush: California Gold Rush American Romanticism: Hudson River School Albert Bierstadt; Asher B. Durand : American Romanticism: Hudson River School Albert Bierstadt; Asher B. Durand Henry David Thoreau: Henry David Thoreau "In wildness is the preservation of the world.“--Thoreau "It was a pleasure and a privilege to walk with him. He knew the country like a fox or a bird, and passed through it as freely by paths of his own." - Ralph Waldo Emerson If a law "is of such a nature that it requires you to be the agent of injustice to another," he writes, "then, I say, break the law." –”Civil Disobedience” Civil disobedience: the active refusal to obey certain laws, demands or commands of a government or occupying power without resorting to physical violence. Q: An honorable American tradition of dissent, or a usurpation of democratic process and will? Students of Thoreau still differ widely over the question whether his championship of John Brown was a betrayal of his principles or an ultimate illustration of them. Slide18: The story of the tumultuous years after the Civil War during which America grappled with how to rebuild itself, how to successfully bring the South back into the Union and, at the same time, how former slaves could be brought into the life of the country Children's Aid Society in New York which from 1853 to 1929 sent over 100,000 unwanted and orphaned children from the city to homes in rural America Westward, the course of empire takes its way, 1845-1864 Women's Rights National Historic Park, Seneca Falls, New York: Women's Rights National Historic Park, Seneca Falls, New York Women's Rights National Historic Park, Seneca Falls, New York : Women's Rights National Historic Park, Seneca Falls, New York Amistad (1839) and Abolitionism: Amistad (1839) and Abolitionism Amistad (1839) and Abolitionism: Amistad (1839) and Abolitionism Lincoln & the Emancipation Proclamation: Lincoln & the Emancipation Proclamation John Brown: John Brown “Tragic Prelude” (Kansas violence as): “Tragic Prelude” (Kansas violence as) In his outstretched left hand is the word of God, and in his right hand a "Beecher Bible" (better know as a rifle). Flanking him, facing each other, are contending free soil and proslavery forces, and at their feet, two figures symbolic of the 1.5 million Civil War dead and wounded. In the background are the pioneers with their wagons on the endless trek to the west and the tornado and the raging prairie fire, fitting symbols of the destruction of the Civil War. Loewen on John Brown & Abe Lincoln: Loewen on John Brown & Abe Lincoln Hugo’s prediction that hanging Brown for the raid on Harper’s Ferry “will open a latent fissure that will finally split the Union asunder.” John Brown’s sanity or insanity, as history presents him, may be a barometer for “the level of white racism in our society.” (173) Role of his religiosity obscured, especially after its support of “racial idealism” is no longer as popular. Role of Lincoln’s abolitionism obscured; he’s presented as morally indifferent. indeed all “ideas” as driving forces behind policies and events somewhat ‘flattened’ and obscured: “American history textbooks give us no way to understand the role of ideas in our past.” Why are predominance of “carpetbaggers” and “scalawags,” terms coined by white Southern Democrats with derogatory connotation, presented “as if they were proper historical labels”? If lack of sympathy with “the idealists in Reconstruction” and “the nadir of race relations in the U.S. (1890-1920)” isn’t the explanation for attributing self-interested economic motives to them, what is?