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Mexican Views of 1848: The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo Through Mexican History

Richard Griswold del Castillo


The Mexican War (1846-1848) was one of the pivotal events in the history of United States-Mexico relations. As a result of this conflict the United States acquired the valuable lands and natural resources that accelerated its industrial growth into the twentieth century. Among Mexican elites the end of the war precipitated a period of self-criticism, self-examination, and debate that culminated in the reform movement of Benito Juárez and a civil war beginning in 1857. The disastrous military defeat in 1848 forced both conservatives and liberals to reevaluate the consequences of their political programs in hopes of finding ways to strengthen the nation (Hale 1957:153-174). The Mexican War set in motion political forces that would drastically change Mexico's future.

Given the importance of this war and treaty for the history of Mexico, one would expect Mexican historians to give it a great deal of study. By and large, however, Mexican intellectuals have generally ignored or neglected it. This essay examines the way in which Mexicans have interpreted the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo since the fateful year 1848 when the treaty was signed. I have chosen to focus on the treaty rather than on the war for reason of economy. In fact, the way any historian has interpreted the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo inevitably has been conditioned by their view of the Mexican War. There are many Mexican historians of the war but few of them have studied in any detail the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. In selecting Mexican authors for this essay my criterion has been to choose those historians that have significantly written about the treaty.

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Print ISSN: 0886-5655
Online ISSN: 2159-1229