Skip to main content

The Border Landed On Us

What factors led to the invasion of Mexican territory by American settlers? How did Manifest Destiny justify this assault?
There are many varieties of this question. However, I think this version best captures what is necessary for a comprehensive answer like what I am to give here.
However, I think this question warrants its due before a related question catches steam or whatever. We need to talk about this now! The answers to the particular questions highlighted above are as follow:
Q1: What factors led to the invasion of Mexican territory by American settlers?
A: Racism from what I am coining ‘racial narcissism’ and treason according to the U.S. Constitution Article III, Section 3.
Q2: How did Manifest Destiny or MD justify this assault?
A: Depends on what the question intends to ask. If what is intended is 'how did the means to pursue Mexican Territory justify its seizure, then the answer could suggest an air of collective (racial) narcissism; a metaphysical conception underpinning this historical precedent and by extension much of what is arguably intergenerational turmoil that continues to emanate from it, to be sure (I’ll explain with added depth what this means later, hold tight).
*A: Alternatively, if what is being asked is 'how did the principle underscoring MD or the consequences from it justify the seizure of Mexican Territory, then the answer is: it didn’t, and it never has, and never will.
I have observed some repugnant answers (as well as some decent ones) to this question and its many varieties. Yet, for some unknown reason, one stands out to me, and it is written by a self-professed Libertarian-Capitalist whose answer is nothing but a revisionist fantasy based on alternative facts (thank postmodernism for these, ironically), which I linked under ‘fiction’ at the conclusion of this post, wrote this particular answer.
In the post under scrutiny, this gentleman cites the rebellions in Texas as beginning with the settlers’ dissatisfaction “with how the Mexican government had been controlling the provinces”. Full stop. Hmm…I am a nice guy, so I’ll do him a favor and correct this part with some facts. What our friend conveniently omits is what precisely the settlers were dissatisfied with. I am sure this is merely an oversight, though. After all, the work in question could not possibly have been insinuating that the Mexican people were somehow less capable than the Anglo settlers or the Anglo U.S. Government to govern their own land. That would be a bit racist like the quote below:
“’Your ancestors, they landed on Plymouth and dealt with the Indians by cheating them out of their land.’ ‘Now the Mexicans are no better than the Indians, and I see no reason why we should not go the same course and take their land.’”
—Sam Houston at an “All of Mexico” Rally
Sources: (Hixson, 2013 & 2015; Greenburg, 2005)
The quote above is a direct admission that Manifest Destiny was a movement of thievery, one that was predicated on overt racism. And if that were not enough, this admission of thievery derives from a hero of the revisionist, Sam Houston. And to think, this man has a major metropolitan city named after him! Nonetheless, thievery, a buzzword of the libertarian, is considered by most including (nay especially) the libertarian as being wholly immoral. Naturally, this raises a question: Were the land transfers of the Mexican territories morally justified, even by a conservatively libertarian standard? And, depending on the answer: Is the U.S./Mexico border legitimate?
All things equal, let us play by the libertarian rules:
Enter the Entitlement Theory. The concept of ‘Justice in Holdings’ consists of three major topics. This is a particular process. Consider ‘transfer of holdings,’ which Nozick says transpires via a process of transferring previously held things from one person to another. Finally, there is the ‘principle of justice in transfer’, which concerns the legitimacy of the transfer of a given holding. In particular, the transfer of a holding must be characterized by a ‘legitimate first move’. Legitimate first moves are characterized by the principle of justice in acquisition. Accordingly, Nozick argues, that which arises from a just set of circumstances is by virtue also just. To put it another way, it is not enough for a just situation to be possible.
Conversely, ‘a thief’s victims could have voluntarily presented him with his score as gifts. But that “does not entitle the thief to his ill-gotten gains”.
Arguably, what Nozick had his mind on when giving the argument above were things like taxes, taxed monies (taxation is thievery...blah blah blah, derp derp derp….), et cetera. However, since Nozick was a very careful philosopher, it does not follow that something like transferred land was somehow an unintended consequence. Anyway, it would not matter even if it was unintended, as such is philosophy and deduction after all. All this would mean would be a gaping hole, a flaw in his argument or theory.
So, let us see this in a formal sampling:
1. A person who acquires a holding in accordance with the principle of justice in acquisition is entitled to that holding.
2. A person who acquires a holding in accordance with the principle of justice in transfer from someone else entitled to the holding is entitled to the holding.
3. No one is entitled to a holding except by (repeated) applications of 1 and 2.
Applied to what endorsers of the Manifest Destiny claim to the contemporary U.S./Mexico border might argue, we get this extraction:
(1) It is the case that the U.S. acquired a holding in accordance with the principle of justice in acquisition is therefore entitled to that holding.
(2) The U.S. acquired a holding in accordance with the principle of justice in transfer, from Mexico and is thereby entitled to the holding.
(3) The U.S. is entitled to a legitimate claim to the border that favors their immigration policies (among other things) since they received the transfer of land through applications of 1 and 2.
As the narrative goes (I am not a postmodernist, BTW, yuck!), the U.S. expanded westward via manifest destiny—as if by some divine providence. You see, the Creator of the universe, world and Savior of humanity chooses favorites, namely based on race and ethnicity. But I digress.
Scholarship is virtually unanimous in attributing the rebellions in Alta California and Santa Fe de Nuevo Mexico, and Texas to what were mostly squatters that
(I) Took it upon themselves to revolt and override the discretion of their Mexican landlords,
(II) Mostly chose not to pay for their settlements and so most of the so-called settlers were
(III) What many Americans like to call illegal “aliens”, and
(IV) As “illegal aliens” refused to learn Spanish,
(VII) Disrespected customs and laws, including their insistence on their right to a practice of a very un-Mexican practice—i.e., slavery.
Upon consideration of (VII), recall that the U.S. Civil War, which was largely predicated on slavery, commenced soon after the end of this conflict. Owning slaves was a practice that Mexico formally renounced and then subsequently put into law. Accordingly, Mexico’s anti-slavery stance is what triggered the rebellions in the first place.
Scholarship is virtually unanimous in attributing the rebellions in Alta California and Santa Fe de Nuevo Mexico, and Texas to what were mostly squatters that (I) took it upon themselves to revolt and override the discretion of their Mexican landlords, (II) mostly chose not to pay for their settlements and so most of the so-called settlers were (III) illegal aliens, and (IV) these “illegal aliens” refused to learn Spanish, (VII) disrespected customs and laws, including their insistence on their right to a practice of a very un-Mexican practice (VIII) owning slaves, a practice that Mexico formally renounced,[1] and then subsequently put into law.[2] Accordingly, Mexico’s anti-slavery stance is what triggered the rebellions in the first place.
To be precise, Texas declared itself independent but was annexed to the U.S. nine years later. It is also worth noting that Mexico obliged advice given from Britain to not try and recapture Texas, to which they agreed but only if the U.S. did not annex it. The U.S., nevertheless, violated this condition under President, James K. Polk. In addition, the U.S. instigated war with Mexico immediately after by first crossing over the border area Mexico had actually agreed to, the Nueces River, and then eventually moving up to the Rio Grande. That was the catalyst for the Mexican-American war and the subsequent capturing of Santa Fe de Nuevo Mexico and Alta California. Essentially, Polk needed to provoke the Mexicans to attack in order to gain congressional approval for what was otherwise an unpopular motive for westward expansion later known as manifest destiny. U.S. House Member Abraham Lincoln and the Whig Party, in general, decried Polk’s intentions as immoral while also citing the war it elicited as unconstitutional. Up to this point, I think the charge of immorality is already substantiated. Let us, then, hold a brief discussion over its unconstitutionality.
Many restrictionists have a predilection for averring their love of the constitution. Curiously, though, most who invoke it into conversations about immigration give conveniently forgetful or otherwise revisionist accounts of the Mexican-America War and Texas independence or annexation. Save for reasons stemming from epistemic arrogance, viz, common sense, there is very good reason for simply ignoring the inconvenient facts as well as the U.S. constitution—inasmuch they render the contemporary borders unconstitutional! To be sure, Article 2, Section 1, (A2, S2) explicitly states, “The executive power shall be vested in the President of the United States of [America]”, while (A2, S2) is equally explicit in its assertion of the President role as Commander in Chief of the military of the United States, and the Militia of the several states. However, the Constitution is just as explicit in a couple other sections, including the follow-up paragraph to the previous passage asserting, “[He] shall have power, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate to make treaties, provided two-thirds of the House concur.”[3] By provoking the war with Mexico, Polk did so with the intention of pursuing a treaty for the Mexican territories. Moreover, recall that the Senate was largely against these plans to continue expanding, namely, by means of another war. The only reason Polk eventually got his official two-thirds approval by the Senate was through provoking or otherwise “levying” war with Mexico against the U.S. According to (A3, S3), levying war against the United States is treason, which not only renders Polk impeachable,[4] but it also means that the Mexican-American war was and—in fact—remains unconstitutional.
And so that which derives from something unconstitutional ought to be considered likewise if we are to grant authority to the constitution. The Southwestern border derives from the Treaty of Hidalgo, and so manifested through unconstitutional means. Thus, the contemporary Southwestern border between the U.S. and Mexico restricting what was once the Mexican territories of Santa Fe de Nuevo Mexico and Alta California is unconstitutional.
The border restricting the landmass formerly composing Tejas is also controversial. But is it also unconstitutional? First, realize that the constitution of the U.S. is by definition, a document intent on establishing justice and ensuring tranquility in domestic affairs within the United States. Accordingly, U.S. legislative power does not extend beyond its borders or its domains in land or sea. Mexico likewise had its own constitution and a negative right not to have that constitution superseded by foreign interests. As of May 14, 1836, the Mexican Constitution of 1824, in spite of Santa Anna’s alleged repeal, still chartered the law within its borders. That means Jose Justo Corro, not Santa Anna, held ‘supreme executive power’.[5] This is the case because the Mexican people elected Corro, not Santa Anna.[6] While the Constitution privileged military officers to their own fueros, it is not the case that the military or even the Roman Catholic ecclesiastics could simply override the President or the legislative power of the general Congress.[7] So, it does not follow that the treaty of Hidalgo is even valid, much less constitutional if we are granted the Mexican constitution equal consideration. What is more, Abraham Lincoln recalled that Polk never actually called the signed documents ‘treaties’ in the first place, save for a decade subsequent to the latter’s presidency. Accordingly, then, it seems we find yet another violation of the U.S. Constitution, but this time in the Treaties of Velasco. And so it follows that Texas’ independence was in violation of both the Mexican and U.S. constitutions, which makes its unconstitutionality ubiquitous. Inasmuch as the subsequent annexation of Texas by the U.S. was the indirect result of the unconstitutionality of Texas independence, the annexation of Texas as the 28th state has an arguably prima facie unconstitutionality about it as well.
At the bottom is a timeline that chronicles what I just unpacked in the foregoing. Below this section and above the noted timeline, I shall offer a brief analysis of these events, which I think underscores the Mexican-American War in general, and colonialism in particular, a thing I shall elaborate on in-depth sometime in the future. The analysis is based on something that I extracted from the original timeline, which I omitted from my extracted representation (only because I think its particular tone offsets the prevalent one in the timeline).
A TIMELINE FROM ANNEXATION TO HIDALGO OF GUADALUPE
SOURCE: University of Dayton School of Law. https://academic.udayton.edu/race/02rights/guadalu3.htm
Early 1845
–   James Polk promises Texas he will support moving the historical Texas/Mexico border at the Nueces River 150 miles south to the Rio Grande provided Texas agrees to join the union. "The traditional border between Texas and Mexico had been the Nueces River...and both the United States and Mexico had recognized that as the border." (Zinn, p. 148)
•    June 30, 1845
James Polk orders troops to march south of the traditional Texas/Mexico border into Mexican inhabited territory, causing Mexicans to flee their villages and abandon their crops in terror.
"Ordering troops to the Rio Grande, into territory inhabited by Mexicans, was clearly a provocation." (Zinn, p. 148)
"President Polk had incited a war by sending American soldiers into what was disputed territory, historically controlled and inhabited by Mexicans." (John Schroeder, "Mr. Polk's War")
•    Early 1846
Colonel Hitchcock, commander of the 3rd Infantry regiment, writes in his diary: "...the United States are the aggressors....We have not one particle of right to be here....It looks as if the government sent a small force on purpose to bring on a war, so as to have a pretext for taking California and as much of this country as it chooses....My heart is not in this business."
•    May 9, 1846
President Polk tells his cabinet: "...up to this time...we have heard of no open aggression by the Mexican Army."
•    May 10, 1846
•    Violence erupts between Mexican and American troops south of the Nueces River. Of course, Polk claims Mexicans had fired the first shot, but in his famous "spot resolutions" Congressman Abraham Lincoln repeatedly challenges President Polk to name the exact "spot" where Mexicans first attacked American troops. Polk never met the challenge.
•    May 11, 1846
President Polk urges Congress to declare war on Mexico.
•    1846
Congressman Abraham Lincoln, speaking in a session of Congress "...the president unnecessarily and unconstitutionally commenced a war with Mexico....The marching an army into the midst of a peaceful Mexican settlement, frightening the inhabitants away, leaving their growing crops and other property to destruction, to you may appear a perfectly amiable, peaceful, unprovoking procedure; but it does not appear so to us."
•    After the war is underway, the American press comments:
February 11, 1847.
The "Congressional Globe" reports "...We must march from ocean to ocean....We must march from Texas straight to the Pacific Ocean....It is the destiny of the white race, it is the destiny of the Anglo-Saxon Race."
The New York Herald: "The Universal Yankee Nation can regenerate and disenthrall the people of Mexico in a few years; [and] we believe it is a part of our destiny to civilize that beautiful country."
•    American Review writes of Mexicans "yielding to a superior population, insensibly oozing into her territories, changing her customs, and out-living, exterminating her weaker blood."
•    1846-1848
U.S. Army battles Mexico, not just enforcing the new Texas border at the Rio Grande but capturing Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Colorado, and California (as well as marching as far south as Mexico City).
•    General Ulysses S. Grant calls this war
"The most unjust war ever undertaken by a stronger nation against a weaker one." (date unknown)
Ultimately, Santa Anna signed the “treaties” of Velasco, which was composed of a public treaty and a secret treaty. However, the Mexican government ratified neither treaty because he had signed the documents under coercion, under lethal threat as a prisoner.
Representative (at the time) Abraham Lincoln vehemently decried these actions, since he pointed out that the documents were not even referenced as "treaties” by Andrew Jackson (nor anyone else) until a decade later when James K. Polk in attempting to justify his continuance of westward expansion.
•    SOURCE: A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation: U.S. Congressional Documents and Debates, 1774 - 1875
A CRITICAL ANALYSIS OF COLONIALISM AND BY EXTENSION...MANIFEST DESTINY
•    May 12, 1846
•    : Horace Greeley writes in the New York Tribune: "We can easily defeat the armies of Mexico, slaughter them by thousands, and pursue them perhaps to their capital; we can conquer and "annex" their territory; but what then?
•    Who believes that a score of victories over Mexico, the "annexation" of half of her provinces, will give us more Liberty, a purer Morality, a more prosperous Industry...?
Late Anthropologist Ernst Becker, who in agreement with consensus of many of his colleagues, argues that colonialism [was] (more like ‘is’…) a reaction to the colonizers had to a feeling of guilt over their humanity: a thing that dooms them to a fate as mere animal, a thing destined to die and then decompose, and therefore destined to be forever inconsequential in a vast and (possibly) infinite universe. According to Becker et al, human beings are a frightened lot that creates a delusional grandiose view of themselves as the center of the universe. Though, in Becker’s view, this is mostly true of the colonialist. As for primitive man (as Becker called them unassumingly referred to this kind), he was not so much afraid of death as he was simply preoccupied with day-to-day survival. On that note, this is why primitive societies were (and those that remain are largely) egalitarian, yet simultaneously inequality did exist at least somewhat in favor of people like warriors and shaman. However, the so-called “civilized” man seemed (and still is) obsessed with eliminating his immortality. And this is where I think Becker et al get this wrong, in that guilt is not the preoccupation of the colonizers, both old-world and neo. I think the preoccupation of the colonizer is ‘shame’. Preoccupations of guilt and shame are what separate most people from narcissists. The distinction is that while most people tend to feel guilty about a specific negative aspect of their person or about a particular negative event, e.g. that part of me needs improvement or what I did was bad, the narcissist with the exact same baggage feels shame about his/her global self, e.g., I am bad, horrible, terrible for having done that thing.
Scan back to Horace Greely’s extracted quote above: “Who believes that a score of victories over Mexico, the "annexation" of half of her provinces, will give us more Liberty, a purer Morality, a more prosperous Industry...?
Capture that, think about it: a purer morality. This correlates with our amendment of Becker’s idea of the colonialist: a frightened animal who feels guilt shame for his global humanity, one he tries to mitigate with his religion and his race. All things equal, I have the honor of presenting what is the beginning of a theoretical framework with all of you: The colonialist as a racial/ethnic-narcissist. I hope to work this theory into more formal discussions in the near future.
What about the legitimacy the border?
Upon a reasonable interpretation of the facts, neither Jackson nor Polk or the U.S. as a group transferred the Mexican land holdings from what Nozick called a “legitimate first move” insofar as what transpired was and remains a stark violation of the condition that a transfer involves no act of thievery. Recall, that Polk at very least successfully levied war on his own country, which is treasonous and therefore constitutionally illegal. Further, the treaties were all signed under coercion even when one of these instances included the exchange of money. I mean imagine someone holds you up, but you fight for your belongings, yet you are subsequently overpowered. Bloodied and Bruised, you hand over your belongings, and as the thief leaves with your stuff he tosses money at you. Is this acquisition just? I think not! The first move is illegitimate.
Hence:
Not-1. A person who acquires a holding in accordance with the principle of justice in acquisition is entitled to that holding.
As stated, in one of the transfers, there was money exchanged, yet it isn’t obvious that the money was unwanted in favor of retaining the territories. After all, a war was fought to prevent the transfer. What is more, the treaties were all signed under coercion.
Hence:
Not-2. A person who acquires a holding in accordance with the principle of justice in transfer, from someone else entitled to the holding, is entitled to the holding.
Therefore:
Not-3. No one is entitled to a holding except by (repeated) applications of 1 and 2.
Applying this argument to our case and then putting it through the G.E. Moore Shift, we get the following:
(not-3) The U.S. is entitled to a legitimate claim to the border that favors their immigration policies (among other things).
Note: On the Moore Shift, we charitably accept (2)
(2) The U.S. acquired a holding in accordance with the principle of justice in transfer, from Mexico and is thereby entitled to the holding.
(not-1) (Therefore) It is not the case that the U.S. acquired a holding in accordance with the principle of justice in acquisition is therefore entitled to that holding through steps 1 and 2.

Finally, recall that Santa Anna is widely noted to have not possessed the legitimate authority to sign over any documents requiring executive representation, as he was and still is not recognized as the legitimate President of Mexico upon the signing of the Treaties of Velasco. Santa Anna was simply humoring his captors in order to save his own life. All things equal, I think it’s time to amend the discussion of so-called “illegal aliens” and “anchor babies”.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Gloria Lucas, Part 3 of 4 : A Chicana Girl Leading Women to Colonize the Collective Body of Her People

****This part of the series was accepted for workshopping and presentation at the Public Philosophy Writing Workshop at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, which took place between May 18-19th****
For part 3, I'm to redirect our focus a bit from Lucas and her Nalgona Positivity [Pride] by addressing concerns about the body positivity movement in general. Imagine I drive a pickup truck, say, a 1998 Chevy, which requires the action of consuming more fossil fuels than most other types of vehicles. Now, assume I'm a member of a Late-model Chevy Truck Club, whose slogan reads: “Loving my truck means unapologetically filling it with as many fossil fuels as I want.” Clearly, mass consumption of fossil fuels is bad for the environment. However, assume my conscious intent is NOT to pollute the environment, but merely to have fun with my beloved truck. Yet also assume that I'm aware of the negative effects that mass consumption of fossil fuels has on the environmentPerh…

Gloria Lucas Part 2 of 4: A Chicana Girl Attempting to Lead Women

By Jeremy Watkins-Quesada
Recall 'Part 1" of this series in which I offered an anecdote about the spreading of misinformation. The misinformation or 'fake knowledge' in question arose from none other than a world-class, world-renowned expert in evolutionary biology and ethology. Nonetheless, according to Philosopher Erik Reitan, also recall, Dawkins is not an expert in Philosophy, much less the Philosophy of Religion (PoR). This raises the most salient point for our discussion here, for it is not necessarily the case that Reitan's adjudication is the lone basis for doubting Dawkins's philosophic expertise. You see, although Dawkins is a well-trained and likewise skilled evolutionary biologist, he lacks the same kind formal education in Philosophy (in general) and PoR (in particular). Yet, there Dawkins was speaking through his untrained or underdeveloped philosophic skill set as though he were some kind of expert, thereby permeating or spreading through his rea…