Independent Indigenous and the USA Mexican War

Looking at different correspondence from the 19th Century, we can trace different movements in Mexico around this period. The correspondence in this exhibit reveals complex factors leading up to, during, and in the wake of the US-Mexican War that contributed to the conflict and shaped its outcome on Mexican society, politics, and economy. Traditional public-school history classes tend to ignore the role Independent Indians played in setting the ground for an eventual US victory over Mexico. Our first letter showcases the negative economic impact of raids from Indians and other groups on the Mexican government before the outbreak of the War. Our second set of letters give insight into Mexican politics and society during the war,offering two different perspectives on the Mexican government. Comparing the point of view of the Mexican president at the time to the point of view of a soldier in the army allows for us to see class distinctions. The legacy of the war on Mexican politics, specifically, can be revealed through the last letter, one that discusses the Mexican presidential election of 1850.Researching the US-Mexican War in light of this correspondence allows for students to develop a more thorough understanding from the Mexican perspective and offers a dynamic approach for the general public to broaden their knowledge about the war and the history of US Mexico relations.

Circular regarding measures to counter the rebellious Anglo colonists of Texas

“Whatever the sights of the settlers, Mexico should not allow the dismantling of its territory” writes the Mayor of Alamos, Sonora, Mexico, Jose Maria Felix in a letter to top national officials on December 30, 1836. This letter came in response to a flurry of raids in Northern Mexico by indigenous groups and Texians – a term used to describe residents of Mexican Texas and, later, the Republic of Texas. Felix’s letter indicates the urgent need for funds to respond to what the governments in the regions outside the areas directly affected by the raids believed to be an insurrection by native Mexicans. Leaders in these regions viewed the insurrection sympathetically, as they believed the brutality of Spanish colonial rule had created disadvantages within these groups that the newly established independent Mexican government needed to respond to. This letter counters traditionally taught narratives of the Mexican government in the first half of the 19th century and provides early context for the US-Mexican War, where the Mexican government continued to struggle to finance their military objectives.

Letter to Valentín Gómez Farías on the presidency and ambitions, page 1

This letter details complex aspects of the highly contested 1850 presidential election in Mexico that was held shortly after the end of the Mexican-American War (1846-1848). The winner, General Mariano Arista, in office 1851-1853, was one of 15 candidates in the election. General Arista was a popular name during the Mexican-American War. Arista lead Mexican troops in a harsh loss against Former US President Zachary Taylor in the Battle of Palo Alto, the first major battle of that war. This correspondence between Sinaloa Governor Pormposo Verdugo and former Mexican President, Valentin Gomez Farias, a member of the puros faction and also a candidate in the 1850 election, helps shed light on Mexico’s political climate after the war. This letter articulates the sentiments of Sinaloans toward General Arista as a candidate, his membership in the rival moderados faction, and his failures as General during the Mexican-American War.

Letter to Valentín Gómez Farías regarding financial matters

Typed on sheer, almost see-through paper, the above letter was sent by Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna during the US-Mexican War while he led the Mexican army against the U.S. Santa Anna, (in)famous for leading the Mexican army at the Battle of the Alamo, sent this letter to Valentin Gomez Farias, Vice President of Mexico requesting more funds for his troops in January of1847. Since he knew that the Mexican economy at the time was “in a pitiful situation,” he requested that the government sell properties owned by the Catholic Church and give the profits to his army. When Farias followed through and sent him the profits, elites and church leaders in Mexico City, also known as polkos, revolted and demanded that Farias be removed from office. Santa Anna complied with popular opinion and removed Farias from office two months later.