The Mexican-American War of 1846-1848 was a combination of Mexican unwillingness to recognize Texas independence, the desire of Texans for statehood, and American desire for westward expansion.
Tensions between Mexico and the United States had been building ever since the Mexican government invited Anglo settlers into Texas in the 1820s.
When Texas formally declared independence and defeated Santa Ana at the Battle of San Jacinto, Santa Ana did not specifically recognize Texan independence.
The United States government claimed the Mexican authorities were abusing American vessels and citizens at the ports. Mexico failed to pay the United States for the claims.
The United States wished to expand to the Pacific Ocean. The term “Manifest Destiny” described how most Americans felt about the rights of their nation to acquire more territory.
The Mexican government in the years leading up to the war was highly unstable, which kept Mexico from maintaining a consistent foreign policy. Between 1821 and 1846, the Mexican government changed hands eleven times, usually as a result of a palace revolution.
The Mexicans maintained an ongoing border disagreement with Texas from 1836 until the outbreak of the war. Texas claimed the Rio Grande River as its southern boundary while Mexico claimed the Nueces River that was almost 100 miles further north as the boundary.
The United States’ quick offer of annexation to Texas enraged the Mexican government and seemingly left them no choice but to follow through on their threats of war.
America and Texas were determined that Texas should join the union, and Mexico was equally determined to prevent that from happening. Mexico might have recognized Texas independence and eventually even the annexation by the United States. What brought on war was the quickness of American action combined with the Mexican efforts to prevent the annexation of Texas by the United States.
Source: The Causes and Reasons for the Mexican-American War
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