Senate Ratifies Treaty Ending Mexican-American War
The United States’ war with Mexico (1846-48) was little more than a land grab, justified by Americans with the belief that it was the country’s “Manifest Destiny” to stretch from the Atlantic to the Pacific. The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo ending that war granted to the United States a huge swath of Mexican territory. It was ratified by the U.S. Senate on March 10, 1848.
For $15 million Mexico ceded all of the present states of California, Nevada, and Utah, as well as large parts of Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, and Wyoming. Since the treaty forced Mexico to abandon claims on Texas (never having recognized the Texas Revolution of 1836 or the annexation of Texas by the U.S. in 1845), Texas can be added to that staggering list of Mexican cessions. The U.S. also agreed to settle claims by American citizens against Mexico that amounted to about $3.25 million.
Here are two contemporary newspaper accounts of the Senate ratifying the treaty. The first was published by the Washington Union and reprinted by the Alexandria Gazette (Alexandria, Virginia) on March 13, 1848:
The Treaty Ratified by the Senate
Friday night, 10 o’clock.
The Senate adjourned tonight, a few minutes past nine o’clock, after a session in closed doors of nine hours. The labors of the Senate have been very severe for several days.
We congratulate the country on the result of their deliberations. The treaty has been ratified, it is understood, by a vote of 38 to 15—three senators, of course, being absent.
The Constitution provides that “He (the President) shall have power, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, to make treaties, provided two-thirds of the senators present concur.” This treaty is, therefore, ratified by more than the constitutional majority of two-thirds.
It is also understood that the votes both of the majority and minority are made up of both political parties.
It is said that the original treaty has been ratified with some modifications—as proposed by the President, or adopted by the Senate.
The seal of secrecy has not been removed; and, in fact, we do not understand that any proposition was made to that effect. It cannot, therefore, be expected that we should at this time enter into any specifications of the precise modifications that have been adopted, or of the names of the senators who voted in the affirmative or negative. It is presumed, however, that the boundary line, as said to have been originally specified by the treaty, or the amount of the money to be paid, has not been changed by these modifications.
We congratulate the country upon the result—as furnishing some hope and some augury of the restoration of peace. We trust that the Mexican government will not be so blind to the true interests of both countries as to refuse its final ratification of the treaty, now about to be sent back to them. We have obtained glory enough by our valor. We shall rejoice if the blessings of peace shall now succeed to the clash of arms.
We shall wait, of course, with some anxiety for the decision of the President and Congress of Mexico. We presume that intelligence of the general result will be immediately forwarded by a special express to our commanding officer in Mexico—to be followed, as soon as possible, by an authentic copy of the ratified treaty, and with accompanying instructions.
The Senate have adjourned over till Tuesday next, for the purpose of enjoying some relaxation after the severe labors to which they have been subjected for these two weeks past.
This article was published by the Philadelphia Inquirer (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) on March 13, 1848:
Peace with Mexico
We congratulate the friends of peace on the ratification by the United States Senate of the treaty recently negotiated by Mr. Trist and the Mexican Commissioners. Various modifications have been made; but it is hoped and believed that they will be promptly sanctioned by the Mexicans, and that thus amicably relations between the two countries will be fully restored. We shall rejoice most sincerely at such a consummation. War is an appalling national calamity, and should be avoided whenever it may be with magnanimity and honor. The conflict between the United States and Mexico has been lamentable in many points of view. The two countries are Republics and neighbors, are Christian and civilized, both occupy conspicuous positions in the New World, and should by peace and good will, by courtesy and forbearance, by virtue and justice, rather strive to exhibit themselves to the rest of the world as national examples, than present instances of violence, passion, conflict and bloodshed. The treaty, as originally negotiated, was no doubt grossly imperfect. The fact, too, that it was determined upon by an individual, Mr. Trist, after he had been deprived of all official authority, was a serious ground of objection. Hence the Senate hesitated. The members of that body occupy an exalted position, not only before their countrymen, but to some extent in the eyes of the world. A large majority are no doubt friendly to peace, and were so from the beginning. But the national honor was in a great measure confided to their keeping the moment that the President submitted the treaty to their ratification; and they deemed it right, wise, decorous and dignified, to avoid hasty or premature action. We have great faith in the Senate. We have all confidence in the integrity and patriotism, as well as in the ability and sagacity of such men as Clayton, Crittenden, Benton, Dix, Corwin, Calhoun and the other prominent leaders. Such men would never postpone or peril the prospect of peace, but for considerations every way entitled to deliberation and respect. Doubtless, the treaty was objectionable, as first presented, to such an extent, that the nation, had it been ratified, would have denounced the Senate as false to its duty. And yet the members of that body were unwilling to lose the opportunity of adjusting the difficulties between the two countries. They therefore took up the matter calmly, discussed it from day to day, analyzed every section and feature, and made such modifications as were deemed essential. In this form it was passed by a vote of 38 to 15, several more than a constitutional majority. It will be immediately dispatched to Mexico, under charge, as we may presume, of a Special Agent, fully qualified to act. Two or three months will probably elapse, before we hear the decision of the other party. That it may be favorable, must be the prayer of every friend of humanity. The two Republics have already been torn and agitated too long, and although our sacrifices have been as nothing compared with those of Mexico, we must not forget that the hearths of many American homes have been made desolate; that husbands, fathers and brothers, not by hundreds but by thousands, are among the victims, and that with peace promptly and fully consummated, the annals of the campaign will detail the loss on the battlefield or by sickness, of at least twenty thousand precious human lives.
Click here for more articles about the Mexican-American War.