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The United States annexes "All Mexico", 1848

History Learner

Active member
Vice President George Dallas (the namesake of the Texan City), Secretary of the Treasury Robert Walker, and Secretary of State James Buchanan were all in favor of annexing Mexico during the Mexican-American War. More importantly, perhaps, is that a large and growing faction in the Senate, increasingly dominant in the Northern states and having split the South, was also in favor of annexing Mexico. To quote from The Slavery Question and the Movement to Acquire Mexico, 1846-1848 by John D. P. Fuller, The Mississippi Valley Historical Review Vol. 21, No. 1 (Jun., 1934), pp. 31-48:

In the Congress which assembled in December, 1847, the question of the acquisition of all Mexico appeared in the open for the first time. Among those who may definitely be numbered with the expansionists were Senators Dickinson and Dix of New York, Hannegan of Indiana, Cass of Michigan, Allen of Ohio, Breese and Douglas, of Illinois, Atchison of Missouri, Foote and Davis of Mississippi, and Houston and Rusk of Texas. The leadership in the fight, against imperialism fell not to the anti-slavery element but to pro-slavery Democrats. On December 15, Calhoun in the Senate and Holmes in the House introduced resolutions opposing the acquisition of Mexico. Other pro-slavery Democrats, Butler of South Carolina, and Meade and Hunter of Virginia, also registered their opposition.​

Further:
In the Congress which assembled in December, 1847, the question of the acquisition of all Mexico appeared in the open for the first time. Among those who may definitely be numbered with the expansionists were Senators Dickinson and Dix of New York, Hannegan of Indiana, Cass of Michigan, Allen of Ohio, Breese and Douglas, of Illinois, Atchison of Missouri, Foote and Davis of Mississippi, and Houston and Rusk of Texas. The leadership in the fight, against imperialism fell not to the anti-slavery element but to pro-slavery Democrats. On December 15, Calhoun in the Senate and Holmes in the House introduced resolutions opposing the acquisition of Mexico. Other pro-slavery Democrats, Butler of South Carolina, and Meade and Hunter of Virginia, also registered their opposition.

Between October, 1847, and the following February the theme of the story underwent considerable alteration. By the latter date, as noted above, the National Era was advocating the absorption of Mexico, insisting that it would be free territory, and citing along with other evidence, Calhoun's opposition to annexation as proof that the anti-slavery interests had nothing to fear from extensive territorial acquisitions. In other words, the National Era was convinced that if there had been a "pro-slavery conspiracy" to acquire all Mexico, it could not realize its ends even though the whole country were annexed. This conviction seems to have come largely as a result of the propaganda, which was streaming from the northern expansionist press and the opposition of Calhoun. The editor probably reasoned that since Calhoun was opposing absorption the expansionists at the North must be correct. If the main body of the anti-slavery forces could be converted to this point of view, the movement for absorption which was growing rapidly at the time would doubtless become very strong indeed.

Care should be taken not to exaggerate the anti-slavery sentiment for all Mexico. It is evident that some such sentiment did exist, but there was not sufficient time for it to develop to significant proportions. The Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo had already been signed in Mexico when the National Era took up the cry of all Mexico with or without the Wilmot Proviso. In a short while the war was over and whatever anti-slavery sentiment there was for all Mexico collapsed along with the general expansion movement. Had the war continued several months longer it is not improbable that increasing numbers from the anti-slavery camp would have joined forces with those who were demanding the acquisition of Mexico. Their action would have been based on the assumption that they were undermining the position of the pro slavery forces. It was, not to be expected that those abolitionists, and there were undoubtedly some, who were using the bogey of "extension of slavery" to cover up other reasons for opposition to annexation, would have ever become convinced of the error of their ways. They would hold on to their pet theory to the bitter end.

To summarize briefly what seem to be the conclusions to be drawn from this study, it might be said that the chief support for the absorption of Mexico came from the North and West and from those whose pro-slavery or anti-slavery bias was not a prime consideration. In quarters where the attitude toward slavery was all-important there was, contrary to the accepted view, a "pro-slavery conspiracy" to prevent the acquisition of all Mexico and the beginnings of an "anti-slavery conspiracy" to secure all the territory in the Southwest that happened to be available. Behind both these movements was a belief that expansion would prove injurious to the slavery interest. Had the war continued much longer the two movements, would probably have developed strength and have become more easily discernible. Lack of time for expansionist sentiment to develop was the chief cause of this country's, failure to annex Mexico in 1848. Even as it was, however, there might have been sufficient demand for annexation in February and March, 1848, to have wrecked the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo had it not been for the opposition of pro-slavery Democrats led by Calhoun. Their attitude divided the party committed to expansion in the presence of a unified opposition. Whatever the motives which may be attributed to Calhoun and his friends, the fact remains that those who feel that the absorption of Mexico in 1848 would have meant permanent injury to the best interests of the United States, should be extremely grateful to those slaveholders. To them not a little credit is due for the fact that Mexico is to-day an independent nation.
Often, when this is proposed, I see race cited as an issue against it but I don't think it is as much of a hindrance as often suggested. The media at the time propagated the idea of romance between American men and Mexican women as a means of assimilating the Mexicans, even going as far as to write poetry on such. These sentiments did not stop at rhetoric, however, as such inter-marriages were actually common in the parts of the Mexican cession that had existing, sufficiently large populations and were, apparently, considered respectable. Essentially, everyone outside of Calhoun's Pro-Slavery faction didn't really care and it was pretty well understood Calhoun's stance was born out of fears of additional free states entering the Union as opposed to his rhetorical concerns of a threat to the WASP ruling elite of the United States.

As far as Mexican sentiment on the issue, the Federalists, one of the two major Pre-War factions in Mexico, were in favor of annexation:


Winfield Scott also suggested this in his own correspondence:

[34] However, two years later, after the treaty of peace was signed at Guadaloupe on Feb. 2, 1848, and sixteen days later, after he was superceded in the command of the army by Butler, he could write, "Two fifths of the Mexican population, including more than half of the Congress, were desirous of annexation to the US, and, as a stepping stone, wished to make me president ad interim.'"​

The United States Army in Mexico City, by Edward S. Wallace (Military Affairs, Vol. 13, No. 3 (Autumn, 1949), pp. 158-166) also states a desire for annexation among the well off of Mexico City, and goes into detail about the relationships cultivated between American soldiers and Mexican civilians. Mexican opposition to slavery is also over-stated. To quote Noel Maurer, an economist for GWU and a former employee of the U.S. Federal Government stationed in Mexico:

We have an example of a populated area switching to American rule. New Mexico had a population about as large as Coahuila's and a little more than half of Nuevo León or Chihuahua. It provides a perfectly valid template for how those territories would have developed under American rule; with one wrinkle that I'll get to later. We also know what American troops experienced during the occupation. Mexican politicians in the D.F. were horrified at the level of indifference, shading over in many cases -- not least Nuevo León -- outright collaboration.

The wrinkle, which would make Coahuila and Nuevo León different from New Mexico, is that the elites in the northeastern states actively desired American annexation and the extension of slavery. We know this because they asked for it! Santiago Vidaurri wrote a letter to Richmond in 1861 volunteering Coahuila and Nuevo León to the Confederate cause. (Vidaurri annexed Coahuila to N.L. and installed himself as the governor of Tamaulipas.)

These sympathies predated the Civil War. In fact, Vidaurri had been perfectly happy in 1855 to return escaped slaves to Texas. The agreement failed because the Texans wanted to send in their own people to recapture the escapees, not principled opposition; ironically, he made a whole bunch of antislavery proclamations in 1857, only to reverse them and start sending slaves home in 1858. It is hard to believe that Vidaurri or the elites that supported him would have opposed slavery, given their opportunism and their incessant complaints about labor shortages.

More poignantly, Martin Robinson Delany, the biggest proponent of free black emigration to Mexico encouraged them to settle far away from the border; Mexicans in the north were not to be trusted. Moreover, the illegal status of the refugees meant that they were denied the most basic rights and often abused. (Rosalie Schwartz is the best source; I'd also look at Sarah Cornell if you're interested.)

There is a huge amount of fallow land at this time and no organized peasantry -- that's why there were labor shortages with migrants from the south brought up on indentures. So land grabs are not a problem. Moreover, the locals will control the state governments; the techniques that Anglos used in South Texas won't be applicable. Land grabs by slaveowning Anglos aren't the issue, although there will be some anger from smallholders. This could get particularly nasty in Chihuahua; thus our earlier speculation that Chihuahua would have strong Union sympathies. (Not unlike New Mexico.)
So, the PoD is Nicholas Trist being among the many Americans to die to Yellow Fever in late 1847 in Mexico. By the time a replacement is sent, the Pro-Annexationist crowd is in the majority and the we end up with Mexico in it's entirety being absorbed by the United States sometime in 1848. No insurgency pans out, as most Mexicans prove indifferent or even in favor of this change in political circumstances. What happens from here?

First and foremost in my mind is that the Civil War is likely averted, as the Missouri Compromise line can be easily extended to the Pacific with minimal fuss. Now, IOTL, both the Abolitionists and the Planters expected that slavery would fail to take root in Mexico but I'm not so sure. The more populated regions definitely won't see such occur, but the Northern tier is well suited to it. So firm slave states in what IOTL became Northern Mexico as well as a nominal slave state in the form of New Mexico and another solid one in IOTL SoCal (likely with Baja attached). Slavery could expand into the rest of Mexico but given the population on the ground and the limited number of slaves in the United States, I see this unlikely. This does not mean, however, that all of Mexico could not be firmly attached to Southern interests:

Rethinking the Coming of the Civil War: A Counterfactual Exercise by Gary J. Kornblith, Journal of American History (Volume 90, No. 1, June 2003):
"Yet without the Civil War, it seems highly unlikely that the states of the border South would have acted to abolish slavery anytime soon. Antislavery forces were growing weaker, not stronger, in the region at midcentury. In 1851 Cassius Clay, a gradualist, lost his bid for the governorship of Kentucky by an overwhelming margin. "Even in Delaware," Freehling acknowledged, 'where over fifteen thousand slaves in 1790 had shrunk to under two thousand in 1860, slaveholders resisted final emancipation"--and they did so successfully until 1865. Perhaps most revealing of all was President Lincoln's failure to persuade border South congressmen to support gradual, compensated emancipation. Had the United States followed the Brazilian path to abolition, the South's peculiar institution would almost surely have persisted beyond 1900."
This would assuage Southern fears about retaining power in the Senate, as well as likely convince Southern Whigs, who were the decisive vote on the Kansas-Nebraska Bill, to never support such a thing given the Compromise of 1850 would largely settle the issue. Speaking of the Whigs, without the aforementioned Bill they likely remain around and thus abort the Republican Party without the Bill to engender Northern anger like it did IOTL. Thus, sectional issues are largely resolved by the start of the 1850s, with the North free to settle the West and the South free to do whatever it may so desire in Mexico, both free of worry of the other intervening in their own affairs.

It's truly hard to conceive of an America without the experience of the Civil War, as that fundamentally reshaped the United States. Not only was slavery ended decades before it could be naturally ended with all that entails, it further resulted in a very clear shift in American perceptions best reflected in the the US was no longer referred to in a plural sense but in a singular one. Further, the swath of Civil War Amendments, in particular the 14th, forever changed conceptions of American law and further led to a whole host of political changes that continue to this day.

For some more specific examples of changes, one that immediately leaps to me is that the Vicksburg to San Diego railway gets built. The route was actually considered easier to build, which motivated the Gadsen purchase IOTL and the lack of a need to do it in this ATL is certainly a boon for it as well as the fact the center of the U.S. has shifted significantly South. Such would result in San Diego becoming the premier West Coast city while San Francisco and Los Angeles would ultimately die out. Vicksburg and New Orleans would also grow into a greater importance because with the rail connections West starting there and the lack of a Civil War to divert barge traffic onto lateral rail, the commerce of the Midwest will continue to come downriver to them. This would also likely lead to greater rail developments in the Deep South, likely fostering an early development of Birmingham in the 1850s. Indirectly it'd also keep the Midwest more aligned with Southern interests going forward as well.

As for culture, you'd probably see a lot of minor things, like Salsa emerging far earlier as a favored condiment and Spanish loan words entering into mass usage in the rest of the United States. However, I don't see language being an issue given that IOTL Hispanics have adopted English at faster rates than the Germans and other groups did; that the latter still assimilated is another factor to suggest the Ex-Mexicans would as well. Earlier Mexican communities in American cities would also lead to earlier introduction of Mexican cuisine, which could also lead to more regional variations on the same format as "TexMex" food. The biggest one, in my estimation, might be the abandoning of the "One Drop Rule" in favor of the Latin American Concept of Branciemento. Should such a concept gain national acceptance, it could over time come to be applied to other racial groups, which would be a change from IOTL; not a less racist America, mind you, but a different outlook all the same.
 

Dan1988

Sorry, sunshine, wrong place
First off, welcome. :cool: Make yourself comfortable - I just made some coffee and tea, if you're interested. (Don't mention it, but the water I used is not necessarily to people's liking at it's not enough to create fuzz inside the kettle.) There's also some seafood salad near the fridge, if you want some - I just took some out for my lunch.

Now, as for the annexing-all-of-Mexico thing - race is one part of it, but there was also a few things that were tied in with it, including religion (remember the Know-Nothings were at their height as a result of anti-Irish sentiments) and even some lingering effects of the Black Legend (the belief that the Spanish were of an unparalleled degree of brutishness compared with other Europeans). The Mexicans were assumed to be "more white" than they actually were, failing to take into account all the diversity within the country (which leaders in the South saw as dangerous - particularly, and especially, with the African element). The annex-all-Mexico bit was also never really taken all that seriously; IIRC some of the justification of how much of Mexico the US actually took was because it had few if any Mexicans in it. The reason for that is because, at the time, the thinking went something like non-WASP people are not predisposed to democracy American-style, so why bother going ahead with it. Furthermore, not all Mexicans would welcome US annexation - as you yourself noted, there were elements of the well-off that would be predisposed, but those were few and far between. Many of the well-off were heavily racist towards their own people, which would explain their views on that.

Most likely, the annexation would be followed by rebellion after rebellion until Mexico regained its independence, which could serve as a substitute for The Civil War (tm) and the OTL Reform War/Mexican Revolution. It wouldn't be an insurgency, but what it would be is a reaction to the end-results of the annexation - which would not be very good, if past practice in the Southwest IOTL is any indication. In most cases, the Mexicans (even the well-off ones) would be dispossessed of their land and forced into the bottom of the newly-formulated social hierarchy. To a large degree, it would be similar to Quebec (not entirely, but in broad strokes), the Porfiriato (but with the Anglos, not the majority of criollos, on top), or even the later Puerto Rican colonization (up to a point). There would also be more of a motive to retain Spanish instead of adopting English, so language would remain an issue (and one which would backfire), as would a greater resolve to resist assimilation. So the reality of annexation would be much different from the promise, and this would lead to Mexico wanting to get out of the US as soon as possible.
 

History Learner

Active member
First off, welcome. :cool: Make yourself comfortable - I just made some coffee and tea, if you're interested. (Don't mention it, but the water I used is not necessarily to people's liking at it's not enough to create fuzz inside the kettle.) There's also some seafood salad near the fridge, if you want some - I just took some out for my lunch.

Now, as for the annexing-all-of-Mexico thing - race is one part of it, but there was also a few things that were tied in with it, including religion (remember the Know-Nothings were at their height as a result of anti-Irish sentiments) and even some lingering effects of the Black Legend (the belief that the Spanish were of an unparalleled degree of brutishness compared with other Europeans). The Mexicans were assumed to be "more white" than they actually were, failing to take into account all the diversity within the country (which leaders in the South saw as dangerous - particularly, and especially, with the African element). The annex-all-Mexico bit was also never really taken all that seriously; IIRC some of the justification of how much of Mexico the US actually took was because it had few if any Mexicans in it. The reason for that is because, at the time, the thinking went something like non-WASP people are not predisposed to democracy American-style, so why bother going ahead with it. Furthermore, not all Mexicans would welcome US annexation - as you yourself noted, there were elements of the well-off that would be predisposed, but those were few and far between. Many of the well-off were heavily racist towards their own people, which would explain their views on that.

Most likely, the annexation would be followed by rebellion after rebellion until Mexico regained its independence, which could serve as a substitute for The Civil War (tm) and the OTL Reform War/Mexican Revolution. It wouldn't be an insurgency, but what it would be is a reaction to the end-results of the annexation - which would not be very good, if past practice in the Southwest IOTL is any indication. In most cases, the Mexicans (even the well-off ones) would be dispossessed of their land and forced into the bottom of the newly-formulated social hierarchy. To a large degree, it would be similar to Quebec (not entirely, but in broad strokes), the Porfiriato (but with the Anglos, not the majority of criollos, on top), or even the later Puerto Rican colonization (up to a point). There would also be more of a motive to retain Spanish instead of adopting English, so language would remain an issue (and one which would backfire), as would a greater resolve to resist assimilation. So the reality of annexation would be much different from the promise, and this would lead to Mexico wanting to get out of the US as soon as possible.
Thank you very kindly for your warm welcome, it is appreciated!

Specifically as to your points, outside of Fuller, I'd also include The United States and Mexico, 1847-1848 by Edward G. Bourne in the The American Historical Review, Vol. 5, No. 3 (Apr., 1900), pp. 491-502 as he largely came to the same conclusions as this aforementioned work did. Admittedly, both of these are dated, but I cite from them because they are specialized works focused on the central question/idea I'm presenting. Other, more recent scholarship has largely supported their conclusions, with Fuller in particular still widely cited positively to this day. Glyndon Van Deusen in The Jackson Era (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1959), states that the "formidable demand that the United States take over all of Mexico" was "coming to its peak in the winter of 1847-48....It is possible, even probable, that Trist's refusal to obey his final instructions prevented the absorption of Mexico by the United States". Thomas Bailey, in his Diplomatic History of the American People, concurs that Trist's refusal prevented the Annexation of Mexico. Finally, "Swallowing Mexico without Any Grease": The Absence of Controversary over the Feasibility of Annexing All Mexico by Timothy Evans Buttram, which is the most recent of all these (Ph.D Dissertation, University of New Hampshire 2008), is also in agreement with all of these and is available online:

This study contributes to the historiography of the "all Mexico" movement by showing that America's ability to annex its southern neighbor was never a part of the all Mexico debate. The thesis argues that common American perceptions of the United States and Mexico during the Mexican-American War undermined any grounds on which to challenge the achievability of annexation. Chapter I shows that no politician, regardless of his stance on the value of absorbing Mexico, questioned the feasibility of doing so. Chapter II then demonstrates that portrayals of the United States and Mexico in American newspapers supported confidence in the American ability to dominate its enemy. Finally, chapter III reveals that even American soldiers who came face to face with the realities of the occupation held similar perceptions and shared the common confidence in American capability.​
The only counter-argument I've seen is Frederick Merck's book on Manifest Destiny but, given the broad look at the historical literature stretching from the start of the 20th Century until contemporary times, shows it to be an outlier. At least on the American end, my personal opinion based on the available research shows the perceived feasibility was always in the positive and the central question of desire was moving in favor of Pro-Annexation forces.

Now, specifically on the sub-issues of "All Mexico", starting with race, Fuller takes the position that Calhoun's Senate speech concerning the racial issue was less than sincere, being motivated by concerns the new States would be Free-States and thus detrimental to Slave Power; Buttram's 2008 work is in agreement with this view. Even taking the position it was genuine, Fuller notes it didn't gain traction outside of the Eastern South, with Mississippi and Texas being notably in favor of expansionism. In the North, as I cited in the OP, the popular media was actually supportive of bringing the Mexican population into the Union, given the belief they could be easily assimilated by inter-marriage. The same is largely true for religion, as the prevailing opinion at the time was that the imposition of American Republicanism-officially secular-would remove the direct influence of the Catholic Church and American missionaries could then be used to convert the populace; notably, this same view would pop up again when a similar debate was held concerning annexing the Philippines. While this was the height of the Know Nothing Party, their influence tends to get over-stated, despite their best showing being when Fillmore received 21.5% of the popular vote in the 1856 presidential election and that was with him downplaying his membership in order to broaden his appeal.

Finally, on the Mexican side of the equation, while Winfield Scott and Edward S. Wallace both noted the Upper Classes in particular were in favor of annexation, both note it held broader appeal than just that one segment of Mexican society. Scott, for example, estimated support at 40% of the overall population while Wallace noted broad support among the Middle Classes too (shop owners, merchants, etc), due to the security and business the Americans brought with them. Perhaps more important is what Pedro Santoni, in his book Mexicans at Arms: Puro Federalists and the Politics of War, 1845-1848, outlines in that of the two factions in Mexico following the ousting of Santa Anna-the Moderates and the Federalists-there is reason to believe the latter were also insincere in their stances and actually angling to engender an annexation of Mexico by the United States! There was also geographic differences in Mexico concerning the issue too, with the Noel Maurer citation I provided earlier noting that generally speaking, the reception of Americans in Northern Mexico was either indifferent or in favor of them. This ultimately would lead to Santiago Vidaurri, who controlled the territory of the old Rio Grande Republic, to propose being annexed by the Confederacy in 1861.

Overall, then, resistance would be confined to Central Mexico and would be dependent upon the Moderates taking up arms against the occupation-given they were the ones most in favor of signing a treaty, however, it seems they would be unlikely to do such. As it were, it's worth noting how hard it would be to sustain such an insurgency, even if it had broad support throughout Mexico in its entirety; the one that was historically occurring in late 1847 was limited to attacking U.S. Army logistics running from Veracruz to Mexico City and existed solely from the ability of the Mexican Government to fund it. It lacked popular support and whenever issues with funding occurred, the "soldiers" in question often resorted to general banditry, which would turn the locals against them and in support of the Americans fairly quickly. Would there be issues Post-Annexation, with some radicalized to take up arms? Perhaps so, but I doubt-given the limitations that were already apparent in Mexican society at the time-it would seriously imperil American annexation and eventual integration of the region.
 
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History Learner

Active member
Did some more research on the proposed Southern Trans-Continental Railway, which I thought I would share. The citation is Official explorations for Pacific railroads, 1853‑1855 by G. L. Albright (University of California Publications in History, XI, Berkeley, 1921):

Delegates from twelve southern states and several northern and western states met at Memphis in October, 1849, to discuss the question of a transcontinental railroad and to urge upon Congress the necessity of immediate action.46 Lieutenant Maury, superintendent of the National Observatory at Washington, and a man well informed upon the western and Pacific regions, was elected president. Resolutions were drawn up stating: first, that it was the duty of the general government to provide at an early period for the construction of a national railroad from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean; second, that engineers should be appointed and surveys and the location of the route be completed by the general government; third, that for the construction of the road the public lands constituted a proper fund, and that it was the duty of Congress, after the building of the main trunk road, to aid by an appropriation from the national domain in the construction of branch railroads to connect with the Great Lakes and the great thoroughfares leading to the Atlantic, and also to aid in the construction of branches from the main trunk to suitable points on the Gulf of Mexico; and fourth, that in the event of the appropriation by Congress of a considerable portion of the public lands, or of the proceeds of the sales thereof, to the construction of a railroad, liberal appropriations of the public lands lying within the limits of the respective states should be made to aid in the construction.47

The proposed route, as advocated by the Memphis Convention, would commence at the port of San Diego, pursuing a direct line to the Colorado River; thence to the Gila and along the valley of the latter to El Paso del Norte; thence across the state of Texas to its northeastern boundary near the thirty-fourth parallel of north latitude, and terminating at some point on the Mississippi River between the mouth of the Ohio and the mouth of the Red, preferably at Memphis.48 The memorial of the Memphis Convention was referred to the House Committee on Naval Affairs, which reported August 1, 1850. The report of its chairman, Mr. Stanton, embodied the entire memorial and was accompanied by a bill providing for the survey of the proposed routes for a railroad across the continent.49

The St. Louis Convention, with similar objects in view, met in the same month and was attended by delegates from both northern and southern states. The guiding spirit of the meeting was Senator Benton, and it was due primarily to his influence that the following resolutions were passed: (1) "That, in the opinion of this convention, it is the duty of the General Government to provide, at an early period, for the construction of a central national railroad from the valley of the Mississippi to the Pacific ocean"; and (2) "That, in the opinion of this convention a grand trunk railroad, with branches to St. Louis, Memphis and Chicago, would be such a central and national one."50 To avoid state and local prejudices the Convention proposed that the government should confine its operations to the territory beyond the limits of the states, leaving the various branches to be built by the states through liberal grants of government lands. The Convention also urged the necessity of a thorough survey of all routes that might be considered practicable.
Finally, the plan of Robert Mills sought to mollify both sides with a compromise:

Mills' Central Route to the Pacific.—A route similar to that recommended by the Memphis Convention was in May, 1852, urged upon Congress by the memorial of Robert Mills.53 Mills had given the subject serious consideration for years, and had long sought to arouse and fix public attention upon it with a view to a practicable result. As early as 1847, he had mapped out a definite route and asked for a survey by the government.54 In his memorial he emphasized the necessity of immediate action, believing that sufficient information had been gathered from previous explorations to map out a practicable route. He proposed two main eastern branches, the terminus of one being at St. Louis, which would connect with all roads coming from the north, east, southeast, and as far south as Richmond, and that of the other at Memphis, which would connect with all southern railroads. After uniting near Van Buren on the Arkansas River, the main trunk would follow a direct line to El Paso del Norte, and thence by way of the Gila Valley to San Diego. Mills believed that the Gila route would prove more advantageous, even to San Francisco, than one by the Great Basin and Sacramento Valley, eight degrees further north. He proposed that the work be national in construction and ownership and urged that surveys be made so as to judge of the route "that would centralize advantages and give to each state an equal chance through branch connections."​

Although the citation in question does not have maps attached, I was able to find a copy of the proposal made by Mills online:

 
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History Learner

Active member
So, I am honestly thinking about a timeline based on this so I thought I'd share some of my ideas/expand upon ones I've already shared.

Politics and Economics of the United States -

The Compromise of 1850 did not last IOTL because it left the question of Western Territories unresolved, instead relying on the concept of Popular Sovereignty. This ultimately led the South as a bloc to pick a fight via pushing for the Kansas-Nebraska Act, an event which precipitated the collapse of the non-section Whig Party and its replacement with the aggressively Free Soil (with a strong Abolitionist faction to boot as well) Republican Party. Sectional tensions from there on only increased, ultimately leading to the Civil War. To quote from The Rise and Fall of the American Whig Party by Michael Holt, on pages 981-982:

"The death of the Whig Party thus had consequences, and none graver than the outbreak of the Civil War in April 1861. This is not to say that there never could have been a civil war had a bisectional Whig Party survived. If anything, this study should show how rapidly contingent events could change things. But surely the circumstances provoking that war and its chronology would be different. The historical Civil War, the one that started in April 1861, resulted primarily from the fact that an exclusively northern and overtly Anti-Southern Republican party, not a bisectional Whig party, benefited most from anger at the Democrats in 1856 and defeated Democrats for the presidency in 1860. That Southern fire-eaters who had unsuccessfully sought secession for decades could have exploited the election of a Whig president, supported by southern Whigs, to trigger disunion seems doubtful."
Further on, in pages 982-983, Holt further states that:

"...no Whig action did more to destroy the party and bring on the war than southern Whigs' easily avoidable support for the Nebraska Act in 1854, a mistake that many of them later rued."
Here, though, this has all been avoided because there is no need for Popular Sovereignty when all of former Mexico can be inducted into the Union on a Pro-Slavery basis, whether real or nominal. There's no need to fight over the status of Kansas or Nebraska in order to maintain a 1:1 balance in the Senate or the like when both sections can, via the extension of the Missouri Compromise Line to the Pacific, carve 10-15 states each out of their respective settlement/expansion regions in the West. The South had already long since conceded the North was going to dominate the House, their reliance was on the Senate to safeguard their regional interests and the fact that both parties would be Trans-Sectional would be a further consolation to dissuade Dis-Union. As for Northern interests, the elimination of the prospect of Slavery encroaching upon them before it can even be born as a perceived as a possible threat. Long term, I'd imagine Slavery gradually dies out between 1890-1910 due to a mixture of international pressure and changing economic structures, as it becomes more profitable factoring in everything to just switch to free labor.

So, with the Civil War avoided, the U.S. can focus from the early 1850s onward on Western settlement as well as the development of the economy. Did the Civil War Retard Industrialization? by Thomas C. Cochran makes this point beautifully, by providing a lot of statistics and figures which put the economic impact of the war into focus. Case in point is value added by manufacture, with Cochran citing the following in terms of increases:

1839-1849: 157%
1849-1859: 76%
1859-1869: 25%
1869-1879: 82%
1879-1889: 112%

That the 1860s decade was the lowest in the data set immediately stands out, which is continually reinforced by looking at other metrics. Although he does cite an exact number, total commodity output from 1839 to 1899 saw an elevenfold increase, averaging slightly below 50% a decade but the with the 1860s decade again, the lowest. For more clarity, pig iron-one of the main 19th Century commodities-shows this well:

1850-1855: 24%
1855-1860: 17%
1860-1865: 1%
1865-1870: 100%

Although yearly data is not available for earlier than 1850, the 1840-1850 rate of growth was 97% and the 1870-1880 was 130%. Again, we see the 1860s standing out for its low growth rates. Finally, we look at railroads, where Cochran shows that 1851 to 1855 saw 11,627 miles of trackage laid, slowing to 8,721 miles for 1856-1860, to finally just 4,076 miles during 1861 to 1865-despite the 1862 Act authorizing the Trans-Continental Railway! After the war, the rate jumps back up to 16,174 miles of railway construction for 1866-1870. Putting it into percentages, the rate of 1840-1860 was around 70% and for 1870-1890 it was 75%; for 1860-1870 it was just 15%.

Given all of this, I think it's fair to say that without the Civil War (and perhaps the boost of Mexico being in the U.S.) that the U.S. will become the world's largest economy by GDP (PPP) in the 1860s instead of the 1870s as historical, displacing the UK in most economic categories by the 1870s instead of 1880s as historical and finally will close out the 19th Century as unquestionably the largest economy in essentially all respects. In particular, the railroad building-especially the proposed Southern route with its Charleston to Vicksburg line-could have emerge impacts; it's likely Birmingham, Alabama will be developed sooner as @Jared once noted, while West Virginia could be economically tied into the rest of Virginia to jump-start the industrialization of Virginia and Richmond by enabling easy access to the resources of the area.

This, combined with the annexation of Mexico as a whole will definitely have impacts in foreign affairs, but I'll get to that later.

For now though, I'd like to address one final domestic point for the United States, and that is of the Abolitionists and their political/social culture. Historically, after their success in the Civil War in ending the institution of Slavery, the political drive of Abolitionists and others in their vein turned to other social causes. Many went on to lay the foundations of the Prohibition movement, to support educational causes, or the like; there was overlap between the American Missionary movement of the late 19th Century and Women's Suffrage was well. Here, though, I can't help but wonder what the end result of the Slavery question being settled in the 1850s would entail for them. Most, I'd imagine, would still go onto other causes once it becomes clear the political headwinds just aren't in their favor to continue to press on this issue, in both the North and the South. Many, however, might be so disgusted as to leave the United States and thus we would have an enlarged missionary movement in the closing decades of the century. That can have a lot of impacts, which leads into my next section.

China -

I assume most of the readers are familiar with the Taiping Rebellion, the bloodiest war of the 19th Century and one of the bloodiest in the history of warfare as a whole. From 1850 to 1864, the conflict consumed millions of lives and threatened to drive the Qing over the edge and become a general Han revolt, with only the heterodox nature of the Taiping system probably preventing this, given their extreme opinions and actions on a variety of topics that offended the sensibilities of much of the Chinese population; it should be noted that Hong Rengnan did try to alleviate this with sweeping reforms, but they came too late to turn the tide. Regardless, it should be noted that the Taiping were not the only rebels at this time, and the issues for the Qing were widespread in this regard, as they began to enter what became their terminal decline:


Given all this, I'm content to say some sort of major revolt against the Qing was inevitable given the strategic framework of the times engendered by the underlying conditions present. That it would take the same shape as that of the Taiping, however, is not a given nor is it necessary that it too would fail just as the Taiping did and the other Anti-Qing forces did. Such brings me to the point I was suggesting earlier in terms of impact from a large American missionary movement from roughly 1850 on: could they have an impact on this?

American missionaries would bring with them obviously their religion, which-given the quasi Christian nature of the Taiping-could have some impact on its political development. If nothing else, they would bring with them education structures that could aid in modernization efforts, as well as help to diffuse Western technologies and serve as intermediaries between the wider Western World and the rebellion itself or Chinese society at large. If Hong Rengnan is empowered earlier and sooner, that could have serious effects on its own; he re-introduced Confucius to civil service exams in Taiping territory as well as offered increased trading access to Western nations in order to mollify the populations under Taiping rule and to seek to curry Western favor for the revolt at large in the case of the latter.

Perhaps equally or more important is that the indirect (or possibly direct, given the right advice given at the right time) effects could be felt even if the influence of our hypothetical larger missionary community is not as large. To this I mean, perhaps, a successful Northern Expedition which sees the Taiping go straight for the jugular of the Qing Empire by taking Beijing, instead of bogging itself down in Tianjin. Most modern writing on the conflict suggests this was a major missed opportunity and it's one that the Qing took very seriously, resulting in them making preparations for leading a rump state from Manchuria itself should their worst fears have come to pass. The end result of such a retreat would be the effective death of their Empire, as their (very ironic, it must be said, given the obvious comparisons of their ATL fall to their historical rise) retreat would be a definitive loss of the Mandate of Heaven and preclude a return to power, given the economic and political realities of their new position.

Now, postulating such an event, one must wonder what comes next. Obviously, outside of the Taiping, the various other revolts ongoing would be able to achieve success in the face of the disintegration of the Qing armies fighting them as their source of pay, manpower and weapons dries up. The Taiping would be too busy establishing themselves to immediately confront them either, which would give the other rebellions the ability to solidify their control over their territories themselves. That alone stipulates some degree of "balkanization" of China, at least in the same sense as the 1910s-1930s OTL when the KMT was only able to exercise direct control over a part of China rather than the whole. Perhaps, however, it would get even worse than that. The Taiping were not exactly stable as the Tianjing Incident of 1856 shows, and here their victory has come before such could occur. Thus, the end result of this whole mess could be the collapse of the Qing just for the Taiping to fall apart too and now, from the late 1850s onward China is a mess of warring states that lay open to exploitation by the European powers.

Alternatively, perhaps the Taiping could surprise us or, in the event figures like Hong Rengnan are able to secure their power sooner and thus head off the above mentioned issues, we could have a brighter future ahead for China. Perhaps the Taiping will re-conquer the lost areas in the long run the same as the Qing managed, or perhaps they won't and instead embrace a specifically Han-centric idea of their new Chinese state. Regardless of what happens there, the main effect is that the Taiping-by claiming the Mandate of Heaven from the Qing-represent a totally new system and thus aren’t as tied down by centuries of historical precedent as the Qing were as well as their handicap of being Manchus ruling over a majority Han state. The end result of this could be an earlier, faster modernization of China compared to OTL and thus we get a "Meiji China" in the same way we saw Japan manage to do so historically.

What do you see as most likely here, audience?

Japan and Korea (And France?) -

Staying in the East Asian region but tying it into Europe and events in the Americas, is the question of what the lack of the French Empire's historical 1860s campaign in Mexico could mean. Now, it's well known that the Emperor Napoleon III was a man wanting to turn his Empire into the top global power and that he held a lot of grandiose schemes to get it there, as the Mexican Expedition in of itself showed. However, here that opportunity doesn't exist because, well, Mexico itself doesn't; the U.S. is unlikely to default here (or even take such loans in the first place) nor was Napoleon willing to pick a fight with an undivided (i.e. no Civil War) United States without backing from other players, such as the UK which has no reason to support such anyway. That forces our plucky Emperor to look elsewhere for his efforts, and East Asia immediately leaps out to me as one such area.

Historically, in the early 1860s the domain of Chōshū took the Sonnō jōi edicts to their logical extent, resulting in a four power alliance of the United States, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and France conducting the Shimonoseki campaign against them. Here, Napoleon III could see his chances with this opportunity and take it for all it's worth, a he did with Mexico under a similar setup in OTL. It is important to note here that France historically was more supportive of the Tokugawa Shogunate than the Meiji coalition, which was more British aligned/back. Given that context, France going in as much as possible against the Chōshū would thus derail the OTL Satsuma–Chōshū Alliance that enabled the Meiji Restoration in the first place; thus, an automatic win for the French-backed Shogunate.

With France taking the historical place the UK held in Japan, this not only increases French influence in East Asia in of itself, it also provides the ability to wield it effectively; perhaps the French expedition to Korea of 1866 will here be successful, allowing Paris to establish a protectorate over the Joseon dynasty? If not, could a French-backed Tokugawa Shogunate have its own version of the Seikanron debate in the early 1870s, resulting in an earlier conquest of the peninsula by Japan? Here, there is no prospect of Qing intervention, while France supporting them could make them feel more secure vis-a-vis the Western Powers.

Canada -

Finally, we turn to the last, most obvious foreign policy effect I can think of from this initial POD by returning to North America and the issue of Canada. Historically, the Civil War-with its rampant militarization of American society and numerous war scares with the UK as a result-was the main contributing factor to the push for Confederation, as it was rightfully judged that unifying all of the Canadian colonies into one would enable them to better withstand American pressure going forward as well as make defense easier with a unified military establishment, should the need arise. Obviously, here, I have argued that no Civil War has happened by the U.S. has, by military means, conquered Mexico and that it will soon economically overtake the UK will be obvious and weigh on the Anglo-Canadians as something to consider. Could this be enough to jumpstart the formation of Canada to the 1850s? I would think yes, as it would seem such an obvious move but it might be too early, needing to wait until the early 1860s for the need to be become obvious with the increasing American power to the South.

Would, however, this also have effects on the Crimean War, presuming that still happens? Might the British seek to secure Alaska for themselves (and the future Canada, by extension) so as to keep it out of American hands, thus preventing the continual "strategic encirclement" of Canada by American territory? Or, should the unspoken agreement between the Russians and the UK stand, with Alaska left alone but the U.S. successfully purchasing it in 1854? If there has, as of yet ITTL, been no significant progress on forming Canada until such a point, it is likely to jumpstart such given the American expansion would appear even more of a threat than it already is.
 
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Creekmench

A shade of indigo
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Hi, I think you are overstating America's powers vis a vis Mexico 17 Million Americans vs 10 million Mexicans in terms of assimilating people like the planters of the South were major hispanophiles and the poor whites of the South would migrate south along with the Irish in order to get into that mexican middle class life style and as this post argues with Mexico in the Union would be a boon for development and stability let alone increasing tensions for the coming Civil War in this ATL: https://www.alternatehistory.com/fo...s-look-like-today.455285/page-2#post-17861600
 

History Learner

Active member
Hi, I think you are overstating America's powers vis a vis Mexico 17 Million Americans vs 10 million Mexicans in terms of assimilating people like the planters of the South were major hispanophiles and the poor whites of the South would migrate south along with the Irish in order to get into that mexican middle class life style and as this post argues with Mexico in the Union would be a boon for development and stability let alone increasing tensions for the coming Civil War in this ATL: https://www.alternatehistory.com/fo...s-look-like-today.455285/page-2#post-17861600
Assimilation in terms of the former populace adopting English and the like? Yes, that is likely long term, i.e. a century or more of development/settlement. I'd imagine Spanish would still be large, at least as a second or co-main language until close to the 21st Century, if not until TTL's 2021. If by assimilation you mean political settlement, in terms of their willingness to accept the annexation as a whole/becoming Americans, that's a different matter. As for the Civil War, I just cannot see it happening without the Kansas-Nebraska Act and the resulting dissolution of the Whig Party along sectional lines.
 

Creekmench

A shade of indigo
Pronouns
He/him
Assimilation in terms of the former populace adopting English and the like? Yes, that is likely long term, i.e. a century or more of development/settlement. I'd imagine Spanish would still be large, at least as a second or co-main language until close to the 21st Century, if not until TTL's 2021. If by assimilation you mean political settlement, in terms of their willingness to accept the annexation as a whole/becoming Americans, that's a different matter. As for the Civil War, I just cannot see it happening without the Kansas-Nebraska Act and the resulting dissolution of the Whig Party along sectional lines.
If there's no civil war, how does the USG mandate english throughout the country since they'd be no strengthening of the government in Washington, like even Louisiana and NOLA would be dominated by a francophone elite and with massive investments into Mexico, I'd dare say NOLA would be like a deep south Chicago, and power would be more southern in this ATL.
 

zaffre

At the same time, a Space Bug
Location
Massachusetts
It seems pretty indisputable at this point that Trist's presence resulted in a less unjust treaty for Mexico, whereas Polk also wanted Baja California, a line closer to Tampico, etc. etc. but even if Trist obeys his dismissal, All Mexico is pretty far from the likely outcome. Outside of some macho political posturing in the Senate, Southern Democrats were reluctant (as noted, because of the impossibility of expanding slavery to Mexico) Northern Whigs were outright opposed (probably some of this was anti-catholicism but we can also take, say, the Spot Resolutions as a helpful reminder that some politicians did oppose just invading and colonizing other countries) and Polk himself was enough of a realist not to go for it - I think it's pretty telling how many of the people advocating for All Mexico (Dallas, Davis, Buchanan, Douglas, Cass) had no actual responsibility for governing Mexico but did have an interest in running for President in the next year or so.

But assuming treaty negotiations break down and the U.S. ends up somehow clinging to all of Mexico, American confidence and Mexico's recurring political crises aside, I think colonization is both a medium to long-term failure (at least going off of the only close-ish analogue to this, the Philippines) and going to inevitably accelerate the Civil War, since Mexican territory will become 'slave' territory in principle, frustrating the North, while also being essentially unenforceable territory for slavery in practice, enraging the South. It's just the poisoned pill of Kansas on a continental scale.
 

History Learner

Active member
If there's no civil war, how does the USG mandate english throughout the country since they'd be no strengthening of the government in Washington, like even Louisiana and NOLA would be dominated by a francophone elite and with massive investments into Mexico, I'd dare say NOLA would be like a deep south Chicago, and power would be more southern in this ATL.
Probably no formal law to do such, as the U.S. even at the height of immigration didn't legislate English into existence as the official language of government. They'd probably rely on mass media and cultural diffusion to do it, although American missionaries would do a lot of it too.
 

fluttersky

Well-known member
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Probably no formal law to do such, as the U.S. even at the height of immigration didn't legislate English into existence as the official language of government. They'd probably rely on mass media and cultural diffusion to do it, although American missionaries would do a lot of it too.
Worth bearing in mind that in reality non-English languages were still very common until WW1, when the anti-German-language campaign started.

In my opinion the increased non-Anglophone population and established status of Spanish in Mexico would be unlikely to be challenged- federal politicians would of course have to be bilingual, but I don't think the English language would become the main conversational language.

On the contrary, the lack of civil war and spread of bilingualism might not only lead to French remaining in Louisiana as mentioned above, but could even result in stuff like Dakota becoming primarily German-speaking. With English's status in those states analogous to the role of English in the EU.
 

History Learner

Active member
It seems pretty indisputable at this point that Trist's presence resulted in a less unjust treaty for Mexico, whereas Polk also wanted Baja California, a line closer to Tampico, etc. etc. but even if Trist obeys his dismissal, All Mexico is pretty far from the likely outcome. Outside of some macho political posturing in the Senate, Southern Democrats were reluctant (as noted, because of the impossibility of expanding slavery to Mexico) Northern Whigs were outright opposed (probably some of this was anti-catholicism but we can also take, say, the Spot Resolutions as a helpful reminder that some politicians did oppose just invading and colonizing other countries) and Polk himself was enough of a realist not to go for it - I think it's pretty telling how many of the people advocating for All Mexico (Dallas, Davis, Buchanan, Douglas, Cass) had no actual responsibility for governing Mexico but did have an interest in running for President in the next year or so.

But assuming treaty negotiations break down and the U.S. ends up somehow clinging to all of Mexico, American confidence and Mexico's recurring political crises aside, I think colonization is both a medium to long-term failure (at least going off of the only close-ish analogue to this, the Philippines) and going to inevitably accelerate the Civil War, since Mexican territory will become 'slave' territory in principle, frustrating the North, while also being essentially unenforceable territory for slavery in practice, enraging the South. It's just the poisoned pill of Kansas on a continental scale.
First, thank you for taking the time to give a thoughtful critique and I apologize for just now getting the time to respond to you. To answer your points, I defer to Fuller, who has this to say concerning the Whig opposition:

6 Democratic expansionist organs at the North charged that the Whig "cant" about slavery in Mexican territory was insincere. By recalling the opposition of northern Whigs to the acquisition of all of Oregon, and pointing out the fact that even pro-slavery leaders were aware that slavery had no chance in Mexico, the attempt was made to prove that partisanship rather than slavery was at the bottom of the Whig opposition. (Boston Post, March 13, 1847; Detroit Free Press, March 22, 23, 1847.)

There is some evidence which seems to show that northern Whigs were not so concerned about slave territory as appearances would indicate. No man was more extreme in his protests against the extension of slavery than Joshua R. Giddings of Ohio. Giddings seems to have thought that nothing could put a stop to conquests in Mexico. His chief concern, however, appears to have been not the slavery problem but the fact that if the Whig party became identified with the supporters of the war it would mean political disaster. Giddings to Greeley, September 7, 1847, George W. Julian, The Life of Joshua R. Giddings (Chicago, 1892), 215-16. It is possible that Giddings used the slavery club to hold northern Whigs in the straight and narrow path that would lead to political safety. Senator John M. Clayton, of Delaware, declared on the floor of the Senate that if all Mexico were annexed, slavery would be "voted down" as a result. Cong. Globe, 30 Cong., 1 Sess., 162. Although Clayton represented a slave state he was identified with the northern Whig element.

Another Whig champion, one Daniel Webster, asserted in September, 1847, that "'even if new acquired territory should be free territory, I should deprecate an great extension to our dominions." Niles' Register, LXXIII (1847-48), 106. It is a well known fact that one of the chief arguments in Webster's famous speech, March 7, 1850, in favor of the compromise of 1850 was based on his assumption that slavery could nlot exist in the territory which had been taken from Mexico. Since Webster probably knew or suspected this in 1848, his opposition to westward expansion was based on other grounds than slavery. There were other New Englanders in addition to Webster who opposed westward expansion, not so much on aucount of the s1avery issue but because they believed that as the United States became larger New England would become relatively less im- portant. New Englander, V (1847), 317-18, 604-605, 613; VI (1848), 292-94, 587-88. 47 January 6, 1848.
Now, I know the obvious response to the above is probably something along the lines of "so?", which is understandable; opposition is still opposition. However, if the Whig opposition was based largely on partisan reasons rather than any deep seated issue, it would certainly be malleable in the face of the emerging situation of late 1847/early 1848, which Fuller goes on to note:

As a further illustration of the belief that the interests of slavery and expansion were not identical, there appeared early in 1848 an incipient demand for all Mexico from anti-slavery sources. Speaking of the annexation of all Mexico, the Washington correspondent of the New York Herald wrote: "The abolitionists will scarcely offer it a serious opposition. Mexico will all be free, and consequently the North will have no interest in opposing her annexation." 4 On January 5, George Hatcher, a northern clergyman, described to Calhoun the situation as he saw it in the ranks of the anti-slavery forces:

From what I can gather I think I am safe in asserting that the project of an extensive acquisition of Mexican Territory is fast gaining ground among anti-Slavery men at the North. Familiar as I am with political and religious factions at the North I was not a little surprised to see how rapidly this idea is making a favorable lodgment in the public mind. . . I refer now not simply to nominal Abolitionists but to that large portion of anti-Slavery men at the North who do not belong to Abolition organizations technically so called. It is this class of men and to the South the most formidable class who are fast be- coming converts to the idea of extensive annexation. In their view the more extensive the better. Whether Slavery be extended over this territory or not they think its annexation will ultimately overthrow the institution. Mind you, however, they connect this effect with extensive annexation. They are coming to adopt this ground -" Territory with-out slavery if they can, but with it rather than not have the territory. " On the supposition that large territory be acquired and slavery extended over it they reason thus: " In proportion as you extend slavery over a greater area in that proportion you weaken it."​

Hatcher then went on to explain exactly why the abolitionists thought extensive annexations would weaken slavery even though the institution were not kept out of the new territory."8
If we acknowledge that Northern Democrats were generally in favor of expansion, that Southern Democrats were split and that much of the Whig opposition was based on political reasons which could be shifted by the emerging currents in political thought at the time, then a large-politically dominant, even-bloc to achieve All Mexico comes into focus:

Cass, Buchanan, and Dallas were politicians, listening intently to the voice of public opinion. Northern Democrats, so it seemed to them, were ready to cast aside the Wilmot Proviso. Hence Democratic aspirants for office could safely take a stand in opposition to agitation on the subject of slavery. It is safe to assume, however, that neither Cass, Buchanan, nor Dallas had any idea that the adoption of the Missouri Compromise line or "popular sovereignty" would result in an increase in the area of slavery. Doubtless there were many at the North who were of the same mind.'3

At the South some men along with Jefferson Davis appeared highly gratified at the prospect of the passing of the Wilmot Proviso.1" Others did not think that the South was in any better position as regards slavery than before. John A. Campbell, of Alabama, was convinced that Mexican territory would be free anyhow and for that reason he was opposed to territorial acquisitions under any conditions.1" The Charleston Mercury contended that in effect the doctrine of Cass was no different from that of Wilmot. The latter desired that Congress should prevent slave property from going to the territory while the former suggested that "the people of the new territory shall be supported in refusing permission to the slaveholder to locate there." 16 In other words the Mercury thought that under the principle of popular sovereignty the people of the new territory would themselves exclude slavery. Where such opinions were held the expected demise of the Wilmot Proviso could not arouse any enthusiasm for expansion.

It appears, then, that the slavery question which during the first year of the war acted in most instances as a deterrent to the forces of expansion, was by the fall of 1847 no longer such an obstacle to the acquisition of territory. Increasing numbers of people at the North were becoming convinced that the Wilmot Proviso was not an indispensable prerequisite for the addition of free territory to the Union. Such being the state of public opinion, would-be presidential candidates among northern Democrats, who had been forced to exercise caution at the beginning of the war, could now condemn the Wilmot Proviso and enlarge their schemes of conquest without fear of committing political suicide. This they immediately proceeded to do.17 On the other hand, at the South there were evidences that opposition to the acquisition of territory was increasing. Insofar as slavery was a determining factor, northern approval and southern disapproval of expansion was, based on a, common belief that slave institutions could not be extended into the territory which the expansionists were proposing to annex. This belief had been gradually established by propaganda during 1847. It cannot be maintained that generalizations, on this subject are any more valid than generalizations on any other subject. In the Southwest for instance, the Wilmot Proviso seems never to have caused any great amount, of alarm.18 Moreover, many southerners were perfectly satisfied, provided the Wilmot Proviso were not adopted, to acquire all the territory it was possible to secure. On the whole it may be said that in the fall of 1847 conditions were more favorable for expansion than at any time since the beginning of the war. Just at this juncture events in Mexico seemed to play into the hands of the expansionists with the result that the movement for the absorption of all Mexico became a recognizable force in the United States.
Finally, for the validity of holding onto Mexico in the long run, what do you see as obstacles to that? I would probably need to understand your viewpoints on this better in order to give a proper response, if you want one? Otherwise, we can agree to disagree on it if you prefer.
 
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zaffre

At the same time, a Space Bug
Location
Massachusetts
First, thank you for taking the time to give a thoughtful critique and I apologize for just now getting the time to respond to you. To answer your points, I defer to Fuller, who has this to say concerning the Whig opposition:



Now, I know the obvious response to the above is probably something along the lines of "so?", which is understandable; opposition is still opposition. However, if the Whig opposition was based largely on partisan reasons rather than any deep seated issue, it would certainly be malleable in the face of the emerging situation of late 1847/early 1848, which Fuller goes on to note:




If we acknowledge that Northern Democrats were generally in favor of expansion, that Southern Democrats were split and that much of the Whig opposition was based on political reasons which could be shifted by the emerging currents in political thought at the time, then a large-politically dominant, even-bloc to achieve All Mexico comes into focus:
I would rather not defer to a source from 1934 (or 1900) when trying to fairly evaluate questions of race, slavery, or American imperialism toward Mexico, especially since Fuller spends the last sentence of his article literally crediting the independence of Mexico to slave-owners. And unsurprisingly, if we look at something more current like "New Territory versus No Territory": The Whig Party and the Politics of Western Expansion, 1846-1848 by Michael A. Morrison, Western Historical Quarterly, Vol. 23, No. 1 (Feb., 1992), pp. 25-51:

Following Polk's lead, historians, too, have been generally dismissive of Whig dissent. Assuming the inevitability of western expansion, they have characterized it as either ambiguous, vacillating, irrelevant, obstructionist, or seditious...Taken separately and together, these views of Whig dissent ignore the ideological matrix of the party's antiwar critique and, by extension, its alternative vision of empire and national progress. Each, moreover, begs a larger and potentially revelatory issue. Opposition to a popular and successful war forced Whigs to legitimize their dissent in such terms so as to resonate with established beliefs and principles. That Whigs believed it was rational to emphasize the threat of the president's ambitions to the principles and structure of republican government is more important—and more suggestive—than that they tried to exploit the war for partisan gain.
In brief, the war was both popular and successful and Whigs opposed its political objectives anyway - it makes little to no sense to treat their opposition as shallow or insincere rather than motivated by genuine disagreements with Polk's prosecution of the war and his imperial goals w/ regards to Mexico. Whig opposition to the war was not consistently based in anti-slavery sentiment, but that does not mean that it was baseless and at any given moment they were going to roll over and endorse All Mexico.

In fact, if we look at Polk's own assessment of the political tides c. 1848, again per Morrison, he has a much less sanguine perspective on the prospects of a groundswell for annexation than Fuller does:

On Monday morning, Polk told his cabinet that he intended to submit the treaty for ratification, recommending only minor revisions. Polk acknowledged that present conditions in Mexico perhaps warranted a larger cession, but the treaty did conform, in the main, to Trist's instructions. More importantly, however, were the likely consequences of rejection. The Whig Party, Polk claimed, was already fully arrayed against the administration and unremitting in its attacks on the war. If he were now to reject a treaty made on his own stated terms, the president anticipated that Congress would grant neither men nor money for the war. Enthusiasm alone could not sustain the army; and American forces "constantly wasting and diminishing in numbers" would, in all probability, have to be withdrawn. As a result, New Mexico and Upper California would be lost. If, then, the Whigs should succeed in carrying the fall's presidential election, the country forever "would loose [sic] all the great advantages secured by this treaty."
I actually still don't think it's impossible for All Mexico to be attempted - if Polk dies in 1847 or so, there are better than decent odds that President Dallas tries to go through with it - but I do think Whig opposition to to it was, on its own merits, fairly enduring, principled and sincere.

Finally, for the validity of holding onto Mexico in the long run, what do you see as obstacles to that? I would probably need to understand your viewpoints on this better in order to give a proper response, if you want one? Otherwise, we can agree to disagree on it if you prefer.
Oh, this bit is just math.

Seventy thousand people lived in the entire Mexican Cession in 1848. Seven million people lived in Mexico.

If there’s another time the United States successfully 'held onto' an independent nation of seven million people with another language, religious differences, and no history of shared government at all, I'd be happy to hear it.
 
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History Learner

Active member
I would rather not defer to a source from 1934 (or 1900) when trying to fairly evaluate questions of race, slavery, or American imperialism toward Mexico, especially since Fuller spends the last sentence of his article literally crediting the independence of Mexico to slave-owners. And unsurprisingly, if we look at something more current like "New Territory versus No Territory": The Whig Party and the Politics of Western Expansion, 1846-1848 by Michael A. Morrison, Western Historical Quarterly, Vol. 23, No. 1 (Feb., 1992), pp. 25-51:

In brief, the war was both popular and successful and Whigs opposed its political objectives anyway - it makes little to no sense to treat their opposition as shallow or insincere rather than motivated by genuine disagreements with Polk's prosecution of the war and his imperial goals w/ regards to Mexico. Whig opposition to the war was not consistently based in anti-slavery sentiment, but that does not mean that it was baseless and at any given moment they were going to roll over and endorse All Mexico.

In fact, if we look at Polk's own assessment of the political tides c. 1848, again per Morrison, he has a much less sanguine perspective on the prospects of a groundswell for annexation than Fuller does:

I actually still don't think it's impossible for All Mexico to be attempted - if Polk dies in 1847 or so, there are better than decent odds that President Dallas tries to go through with it - but I do think Whig opposition to to it was, on its own merits, fairly enduring, principled and sincere.
Fuller's work is indeed from 1934, but is still cited as an authoritative source to this day. A Diplomatic History of the American People by Thomas A. Bailey (1940), Glyndon Van Deusen's The Jackson Era (1959) and Timothy Evans Buttram's Ph.D Dissertation (2008) are other sources that I have that both cite and agree with Fuller's assessment. Fuller's contention of the importance of Calhoun's Pro-Slavery faction, however uncomfortable it may be, is also cited by works contemporary to our time. This isn't to say any source that does so is condoning slavery, but noting the historical truth which even Abolitionist sources at the time were noting in terms of their effect on the ending of the Mexican American War. Amy S. Greenberg's 2012 biography A Wicked War is one such contemporary source that I have that also covers such.

Specifically for the charges Morrison makes, I do believe his characterization of the war is inaccurate. To quote Greenberg:

Not that it would be easy. While national support for the war was on the wane, and the Whig Party felt empowered by its new majority to bring the war to a conclusion, there were plenty of Whigs and Democrats who believed, like Robert Winthrop, that it was wrong to condemn an American war while it continued. As the ambivalent reception of Henry Clay’s speech proved, opposition to an American war was tantamount to treason in the minds of many Americans. Furthermore, the war continued to be popular in some portions of the West and South. At the same time, agitation for the annexation of all of Mexico continued to grow, even in some quarters where enthusiasm for the war had previously been flagging.​
The people of South Carolina, for example, had never evinced much enthusiasm for the fight against Mexico. Relatively few South Carolinians responded to the call for volunteers, and their leading Democrat, John C. Calhoun, had vocally opposed the war from its outset. Calhoun had become a thorn in Polk’s side, warning that an invasion of central Mexico would lead to a “war between the races” that would “end in the complete subjugation of the weaker power.” He also cautioned Polk that to annex large portions of Mexican territory to the United States would “subject our institutions [meaning slavery] to political death.”8 On October 13, 1847, the Georgetown, South Carolina, Winyah Observer declared the conflict “probably the most unfortunate and disastrous war” in American history. But three weeks later, after receiving news of Scott’s capture of Mexico City, the newspaper changed its tune, recommending that the United States annex the entire country and “make Mexico do us justice.” With Manifest Destiny seemingly vindicated by the conquest of Mexico, even many of Calhoun’s supporters believed that the no-territory position was madness. Aggressive expansionists were happy to endorse Polk’s plan to continue fighting if it brought the entire nation of Mexico under the American flag.9​
Abraham Lincoln’s Illinois was the center of western pro-war fervor. His state sent more volunteers to Mexico than any except Missouri. And he was representing “John Hardin’s” district, as people annoyingly insisted on calling it. While there were western Whigs who were now willing to oppose the war openly, there were also some, such as George Grundy Dunn, a newly elected Whig representative of Indiana, who refused to speak out against the war because he believed it would cost him his seat. Lincoln knew what was at stake.​

As an aside, Greenberg actually states that Fuller is the leading scholar of the All Mexico movement, for the record. Now, as for Polk's reading of the situation, it's important to note that came after the Treaty had already arrived in Washington, which Fuller notes derailed the All Mexico movement:

Care should be taken not to exaggerate the anti-slavery sentiment for all Mexico. It is evident tha.t some such sentiment did exist, but there was not sufficient time for it to develop to significant proportions. The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo had already been signed in Mexico when the National Era took up the cry of all Mexico with or without the Wilmot Proviso. In a short while the war was over and whatever anti-slavery sentiment there was for all Mexico collapsed along with the general expansion movement. Had the war continued several months longer it is not improbable that increasing numbers from the anti-slavery camp would have joined forces with those who were demanding the acquisition of Mexico. Their action would have been based on the assumption that they were undermining the, position of the pro-slavery forces. It was, not to be expected that those abolitionists, and there were undoubtedly some, who were using the bogey of "extension of slavery" to cover up other reasons for opposition to annexation, would have ever become convinced of the error of their ways. They would hold on to their pet theory to the bitter end.​

Basically, the Treaty arrived when the trend towards All Mexico was just starting to grow and it's "good enough" terms derailed the movement, as it was sufficiently satisfying.

Oh, this bit is just math.

Seventy thousand people lived in the entire Mexican Cession in 1848. Seven million people lived in Mexico.

If there’s another time the United States successfully 'held onto' an independent nation of seven million people with another language, religious differences, and no history of shared government at all, I'd be happy to hear it.
The Philippines, a nation of 6.5 million and largely Catholic or Muslim, in 1900. If we drop the addendums, the ex-Confederate States in 1865.

I know the obvious retort to such, but that's kind of what I'm getting at here; the U.S. didn't hold onto the Philippines for particular reasons, which is why I'm asking what reasons would exist to preclude Mexico from being successful. The numbers argument introduces a circular logic of "Because it didn't happen, it couldn't have, and being it couldn't have, it didn't" and which kind of invalidates the entire existence of Alternate History as a genre on a wider note. When looking at a scenario, we consider the reasons why (X) action could be done plausibly or not, which is what I think needs to be done when looking at this specific issue.

Yes, the Philippines didn't work out in the long run, but would those same factors exist with Mexico? To answer that, I'd think we'd need to define the reasons for the former and then speculate upon the issues for the latter, then contrast them to see. My personal opinion is the weight of evidence is in favor of Mexico being successful in the long run, on the basis of much stronger annexationist sympathy within Mexico as compared to the Philippines, a strong annexationist belief in the United States itself which didn't really exist for the Philippines, and, finally, the obvious economic and logistical changes compared between to the two. The Philippines is far away in the Pacific, and thus never really would see much settlement or economic integration with the mainland, while Mexico OTL has a shared border with strong economic ties even in independence.
 

Burton K Wheeler

The G.O.A.T. That Can't Be Got
Location
Tr'ondëk
Did some more research on the proposed Southern Trans-Continental Railway, which I thought I would share. The citation is Official explorations for Pacific railroads, 1853‑1855 by G. L. Albright (University of California Publications in History, XI, Berkeley, 1921):



Finally, the plan of Robert Mills sought to mollify both sides with a compromise:

Mills' Central Route to the Pacific.—A route similar to that recommended by the Memphis Convention was in May, 1852, urged upon Congress by the memorial of Robert Mills.53 Mills had given the subject serious consideration for years, and had long sought to arouse and fix public attention upon it with a view to a practicable result. As early as 1847, he had mapped out a definite route and asked for a survey by the government.54 In his memorial he emphasized the necessity of immediate action, believing that sufficient information had been gathered from previous explorations to map out a practicable route. He proposed two main eastern branches, the terminus of one being at St. Louis, which would connect with all roads coming from the north, east, southeast, and as far south as Richmond, and that of the other at Memphis, which would connect with all southern railroads. After uniting near Van Buren on the Arkansas River, the main trunk would follow a direct line to El Paso del Norte, and thence by way of the Gila Valley to San Diego. Mills believed that the Gila route would prove more advantageous, even to San Francisco, than one by the Great Basin and Sacramento Valley, eight degrees further north. He proposed that the work be national in construction and ownership and urged that surveys be made so as to judge of the route "that would centralize advantages and give to each state an equal chance through branch connections."​

Although the citation in question does not have maps attached, I was able to find a copy of the proposal made by Mills online:

So it's the Southern Pacific. Which was dealt with by buying a little bit of worthless desert in 1853.
 

History Learner

Active member
So it's the Southern Pacific. Which was dealt with by buying a little bit of worthless desert in 1853.
The Southern Pacific route chosen IOTL varied a lot from what was being proposed in the 1840s and 1850s. For one, it terminated at San Diego instead of bypassing it in favor of travelling all the way up to San Francisco, which was a specifically forced concession to protect the importance of the latter city as the premier West Coast city of the time. Likewise, the Southern Pacific did not have two east branches either, for another difference.
 

Venocara

[Space for something nice and patriotic]
Pronouns
He/him
Finally, for the validity of holding onto Mexico in the long run, what do you see as obstacles to that? I would probably need to understand your viewpoints on this better in order to give a proper response, if you want one? Otherwise, we can agree to disagree on it if you prefer.
I'm surprised that no-one has mentioned this before, but I don't think Britain, France and Spain are going to particularly OK with the Americans swallowing Mexico whole. Realistically if this happens, the next logical step is all of Central America along with Puerto Rico, Cuba and Hispaniola (all of which the Spanish have interests in), and I'm sure the Europeans will want to stop the Americans well before this lest they become too powerful.
 

History Learner

Active member
I'm surprised that no-one has mentioned this before, but I don't think Britain, France and Spain are going to particularly OK with the Americans swallowing Mexico whole. Realistically if this happens, the next logical step is all of Central America along with Puerto Rico, Cuba and Hispaniola (all of which the Spanish have interests in), and I'm sure the Europeans will want to stop the Americans well before this lest they become too powerful.
France is about to be under the affects of the 1848 Revolutions, while Spain lacks the sort of power projection capabilities needed to oppose such a movement. On the British side, American military success killed off any desire to intervene and the merchant classes were pleased by the American Army providing the security needed to do business effectively in Mexico.
 

Elektronaut

Opinions from the Student Union
As far as I can see, the evidence in favour of notable annexationist sympathy in Mexico here is a) political opponents casting shade on Mexican liberals, or Americans saying 'Well, they probably want the war to be lost so they can return to power and they're quite pro-American, but they have to put on a patriotic face at the mo', b) an American source in the shape of Winfield Scott guesstimating only 2/5ths of the population wanted annexation (And uh, people wanted him as President) and c) that treasonous (and given what they were proposing, mad) elements in Northern Mexico during the US civil war were hoping for Confederate annexation and their own empowerment.

This is not remotely compelling evidence towards the notion that Mexicans wouldn't have behaved like most conquered people have behaved like when their national independence is extinquished from abroad. That notion feels very Murica, tbh.
 
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