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Diplomatic Approaches
U. S. Relations with Mexico: 1844-1846 

In March of 1845, in the waning hours of the Tyler administration, the United States annexed the Republic of Texas, independent since 1837, through a joint resolution of Congress. Mexico, still maintaining that Texas was a province in rebellion, severed diplomatic relations and threatened war. There had long been tensions between the sister Republics. To some extent, vast cultural differences naturally created strain between the two peoples. The United States was overwhelmingly Protestant, and anti-Catholic sentiment was raging in response to Catholic immigrants from Ireland and Germany, sentiment that was transferred to Catholic Mexico. There was also the tendency for Anglo-Saxon American stock to hold the Latin or Mestizo Mexicans with racist contempt. Furthermore, Americans had heard ample tales of Mexican atrocities during the Texas Revolution, while most Mexicans regarded the United States as a menace bent on taking advantage of Mexico territorially, suspicions that the annexation of Texas only seemed to confirm.

There were several key points of contention in 1845 that required diplomatic resolution, and the fact that the Mexican government permitted none ensured that the war would come sooner rather than later. First, there were the unpaid civil claims of numerous American citizens who had lost property in Mexico's various periods of revolutionary and civil strife. More pressing was the issue that would become the flash point for the war: the exact boundary with Texas, which had been poorly specified in the Texan-Mexican treaty. The Americans claimed the rightful boarder of Texas was the Rio Grande, the Mexicans claimed it was the Nueces River, farther north.

Yet what concerned Polk the most in 1845 was California, as he was becoming increasingly alarmed by fresh rumors filtering in about new British ambitions on the Territory. Thus he sent John Slidell as a commissioner to Mexico, to attempt to arrange the purchase of California, and if possible, New Mexico. Slidell was authorized to spend upwards of 25 million dollars, although Polk confided in his diary that he was willing to pay forty million dollars if need be8. Slidell was not even received by the aloof Mexican President José Joaquìn Huerra. Shortly afterwards, General Mariano Paredes forcefully disposed Huerra, but he too refused to negotiate with Slidell least doing so weaken his tenuous hold upon the Mexican nation. Even had it been more secure, no self respecting leader would agree to sell of such vast acreage for any price: Polk was asking to buy almost half of Mexico.

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