By: William H. Tucker, Publisher.
Today’s illegal Mexican immigration problem started in 1836, when Texas declared its independence from Mexico that eventually led to the Mexican-American War of 1846. This war would result in the United States forcibly taking the territory of Texas, California, Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah and parts of Colorado.
Immediately after American settlers in Texas felt secure with their victory over General Santa Anna and the Mexican army, many turned their thoughts to annexation with the United States. In August 1837, the Texas Minister to the United States, Memucan Hunt, Jr., submitted an annexation proposal to President Martin Van Buren’s administration.
The Van Buren administration had too many domestic, economic and political problems to seriously consider annexing Texas and risking war with Mexico. Martin Van Buren became the eighth president of the United States in March 1837, just five weeks before the Panic of 1837 that devastated that country’s economy. It was one of the worst financial crises in U.S. history. The monetary crisis was followed by a five-year depression, with bank failures and record-high unemployment. The crisis was caused by land speculation financed with derivative documents that could not later be negotiated and became worthless. In addition to the US financial crisis, the Van Buren administration had a problem with the British government over disputed territory in Canada and Oregon. The United States was also engaged in a second war against the Seminoles in Florida, which was unpopular. The forced migration of the Native American people to reservations in the west was a monumental domestic problem.
Instead of settling the financial dispute between American citizens in Texas and the Mexican government by force, President Van Buren sought a diplomatic solution, so in August 1837, Van Buren denied Texas’ formal request to join the United States. It would take 10 years for Texas to become the twenty-eight state of the United States.
President Martin Van Buren served only one term in office, from 1837 to 1841, and was easily defeated by William Henry Harrison, the ninth President of theUnited States. Harrison died in office on April 4, 1841, one month after his inauguration and was succeeded by his vice president, John Tyler, who became the tenth President of the United States on April 6, 1841. The most famous and significant achievement of Tyler’s administration was the annexation of the Republic of Texas, which concluded in 1845.
Starting in 1843, President Tyler entered into negotiations with the Republic of Texas for an annexation treaty, which he submitted to the U.S. Senate on June 8, 1844. The treaty was defeated 16 to 35, well below the two-thirds majority necessary for ratification. In November of 1844, James K. Polk, a known expansionist, was elected the eleventh President of the United States (1845-1849). The Tyler administration realized that public opinion was in favor of annexation. He consulted with President-elect Polk, and they set out to accomplish the annexation by means of a joint resolution. On February 26, 1845 six days before Polk took office, Congress passed the joint resolution. The citizens of Texas approved the new constitution and the annexation in October 1845. Polk signed the documents formally integrating Texas into the United States on December 29, 1845.
The annexation of Texas by the United States provided the spark that fueled the desire of politicians to continue their territorial expansion, and by 1850 the United States had included what are now Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Nevada, Colorado and California into its territory –and thus, our immigration problem began.
To be continued.
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