Commemorating the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo

163 years ago today, the US and Mexico signed a treaty that ended a two-year war between the two countries and added an extensive tract of land to the US.  We have now come to know this land as the states of California, Nevada, Utah, New Mexico and Arizona, in addition to parts of Kansas, Wyoming and Colorado. 

Politico wrote a brief article about the agreement that forever changed the history of each country as well as the nature of the relationship between them.

If Texas is also taken into account — Mexico had recognized neither the Texans’ declaration of independence in 1836 nor the republic’s annexation by the U.S. in 1845 — Mexico lost about 55 percent of its prewar territory as a result of the conflict. The treaty extended U.S. citizenship to Mexicans living in the newly acquired territories, unless they specifically declared their intention to remain Mexicans.

A few weeks ago, The New York Times ran an opinion piece that examines the initial interactions after the US-Mexican War during the early years of the Lincoln administration. Lincoln’s Mexican Visitor is a great read; it puts the historical facts in a social and human context. Below a short excerpt:  

Despite four decades of rancorous relations with her northern neighbor, no other nation welcomed the Lincoln presidency with more hope and sincerity than Mexico. The Mexican leadership remembered the Congressman from Illinois who questioned President James Polk’s belligerency in the Mexican-American War by challenging whether the conflict’s first bloodshed took place on American soil. They noted the similarities between the Kentucky-born president-elect and their own Benito Juarez, two wise men of North America who had risen up from poverty on the force of profound intellects.

While the US-Mexico War feels like distant history for those of us north of the Border, it still colors the relationship for many Mexicans, and is very present in the nation’s collective national memory. At a time when a positive, productive relationship with our Mexican neighbor is so crucial, we ought not forget history, either.