Texas Annexation

Questions and Answers


Q: Why didn't Mexico recognize Texas independence?

A: Mexico did not recognize Texas independence after the Texas Revolution in 1836. Instead, Mexico continued to consider Texas as a province in rebellion against the mother country. It was not until 1848 that Mexico recognized the loss of Texas (by then part of the United States) in the treaty that ended the U.S.-Mexican War—a war that cost Mexico not only Texas, but California and the entire Southwest.

Many in the Mexican ruling elite had urged a settlement to the Texas problem for years. They felt that Santa Anna was overconfident about Mexican military strength. To re-conquer Texas, Mexico would probably need a well-trained army of at least 20,000 men and a navy capable of blockading the Gulf Coast—military assets that it sorely lacked. And even if Texas were somehow retaken, how would Mexico retain long-term control over the territory? The people there were almost all Americans; even Santa Anna could not kill them all or somehow compel them to become Mexican. Others warned that Texas should be encouraged to become independent before the United States displayed a renewed interest in annexation. While an independent Texas might be a thorn in the side of Mexico, it would be better than annexation and a disastrous war with the United States.

In retrospect, these arguments appear prophetic. But Mexico had many reasons for not settling the conflict with Texas, not least of which was a deep national pride. Mexicans had overthrown the Spanish and wanted to prove they were capable of running all the territory they had won from Spain. Mexico also feared a domino effect—that giving up Texas would lead to the loss of their other northern territories.

Many Mexicans also distrusted the other powers involved in the Texas dispute. Even while allowing the British to mediate a possible peace treaty, they worried that Britain was trying to keep Mexico backward for their own gain. When France offered to help broker an agreement, they remembered the French attack on Vera Cruz, in which Santa Anna had lost his leg. When the United States vacillated on whether to pursue annexation, they delighted in the resulting sectional animosity between North and South.

The final reason why Mexico never recognized Texas independence lay in the unstable nature of Mexican politics. Because no leader or political party ever ruled Mexico for long, it made sense for those in power to take the short-term view. Thus, leaders like Santa Anna had every reason to grandstand and very little incentive to work out a statesman-like solution from which they might not ever personally benefit.

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Page last modified: April 5, 2011