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Singing the Dream: American Sheet Music at the British Library: Part 2

Introduction | Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3
Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7
Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10

The Mexican-American War, 1846-48

The Mexican-American War was the first conflict driven by the idea of America's "Manifest Destiny"; that is, its God-given right to expand its borders and "civilize" the entire continent. This notion of Manifest Destiny did not necessarily call for violent expansion. Indeed, in 1803 the US had acquired Louisiana from France for $15 million, thereby doubling its territory.

In 1835 the United States government offered to purchase California from Mexico for $5 million, but the offer was rejected. Ten years later, the year that Texas, a breakaway Mexican province, became a U.S. state, this offered was repeated at an increased value of $25 million, but was once more rejected by the Mexican government.

In 1846, the undefined U.S.-Mexican border became a major issue, with the U.S. claiming its border as the Rio Grande River, and Mexico claiming territory much further north. Both nations sent troops to enforce their claims, and on April 25, 1846, a clash occurred on soil claimed by both countries.

The war that followed cost the U.S. over $100 million, and more than 13,000 American troops lost their lives. The Mexican casualty figures have never been fully known, but it is generally believed to be more than 25,000.

The peace treaty of Guadaloupe-Hidalgo was signed on 2 February 1848 and resulted in the cession by Mexico of the lands now constituting all or most of the states of California, Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, and Colorado. In return, the U.S. agreed to pay Mexico $15 million as compensation for the seized territory.

Rio Grande Quick March

Rio Grande Quick March 12kb
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Andrews, John C. Rio Grande Quick March. New York, 1846. h.1459.n.(2)
Copyright © The British Library

This march is 'respectfully dedicated to Major General Z. Taylor, Commander of the Army of Occupation'. Zachary Taylor, who later became the twelfth President of the United States, led the Army of Occupation to the Rio Grande in 1846. After winning two decisive victories against the Mexicans, Taylor, facing overwhelming odds, defeated General Santa Ana at Buena Vista in 1847. When it became clear that Taylor's army of 6,000 had triumphed over a Mexican force of 20,000, Taylor became a national hero; the following year he became the Whigs' presidential nominee. He defeated Democrat Lewis Cass in the national election, and became the first U.S. President never to have held any prior office.

 

Matamoras Grand March

Matamoras Grand March (8kb)
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Chadwick, Henry. Matamoras Grand March. Brooklyn, N.Y., 1846. h.1459.n.(40)
Copyright © The British Library

Like the 'Rio Grande Quick March', this song is also respectfully dedicated to Major General Zachary Taylor. Following the declaration of war by Congress, Taylor led the invasion of Mexico and quickly took both Monterrey and Matamoras. Believing that Taylor then failed to capitalise on this success, President Polk subsequently diverted part of Taylor's force to Winfield Scott who was charged with taking Mexico City. It is now generally recognised that Taylor's caution lay in his lack of supplies, trained men, and dependable transportation. However, in spite of his setbacks "Old Rough and Ready" won the decisive victory at Buena Vista and became a national hero.

Introduction | Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3
Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7
Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10


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