Spanish settlement of the west


International borders have always been centers of conflict, and the
U.S.-Mexican border is no exception. With the European colonizing the New
World, it was a matter of time before the powers collided. The Spanish
settled what is today Mexico, while the English settled what is to day the
United States. When the two colonial powers did meet what is today the
United States’ Southwest, it was not England and Spain. Rather the two
powers were the United States and Mexico. Both Counties had broken off from
their mother countries. The conflict that erupted between the two countries
where a direct result of different nation policies. The United States had a
policy of westward expansion, while Mexico had a policy of self protection.
The Americans never had a written policy of expansion. What they had was
the idea of "Manifest Destiny." Manifest Destiny was the belief that the
United States had the right to expand westward to the Pacific ocean. On the
other hand, Mexico was a new country wanting to protect itself from outside
powers. Evidence of U.S. expansion is seen with the independence of Texas
from Mexico. The strongest evidence of U.S. expansion goals is with the
Mexican-American War. From the beginning, the war was conceived as an
opportunity for land expansion. Mexico feared the United States expansion
During the 16th century, the Spanish began to settle the region. The
Spanish had all ready conquered and settled Central Mexico. Now they wanted
to expand their land holdings north. The first expedition into the region,
that is today the United States Southwest, was with Corando. Corando
reported a region rich in resources, soon after people started to settle the
region. The driving force behind the settlement was silver in the region.
The Spanish settled the region through three major corridors; central,
western and eastern. The first settlements were mainly through the central
corridor. The Spanish went thorough what is now the modern Mexican state of
Chihuahua into the U.S. state of New Mexico. Eventually the Spanish
established the city of Santa Fe in 1689. The eastern corridor was through
modern day Texas and led to the establishment of San Antonio. The eastern
expansion was caused by the French expansion into modern day Louisiana. The
Spanish crown wanted a buffer between the French in Louisiana and central
Mexico. The last corridor of expansion was in the west, through the sea,
which led to the establishment of San Diego in 1769 and Los Angles in 1781.
The Spanish were not the only European power to colonize the new world;
French, English and the Dutch also settled North and South America. The
Spanish and the French settled what is present day U.S.-Mexico border region.
The French settled modern day U.S. midwest, while the Spanish settled
present day Mexico and U.S. southwest. As time went on, European influence
in the region diminished.. The French sold there claims to the United
States, in 1803 with the Louisiana Purchase. Mexico gained independence
from Spain in 1821. Once the United States bought the Louisiana Purchase,
western expansion began. This set the stage for major conflict in the
The United States gained independence from England in 1775. After 1775, the
Americans started to expand west. By the time Mexico gained independence,
the United States had reached the Mexican frontier. Mexico needed to protect
its northern borders. To protect the border region, Mexico needed to
populate the area. Mexico continued the policy started by Spain of allowing
Americans to settle Texas. The Americans had to follow Mexican law, religion
and customs. The settlement of Texas played into the United States’
expansion plans.
Eventually Mexico City closed Texas from more Americans from entering.
This angered the Americans wanting to enter and Americans already living in
Texas. Texas revolted from Mexico in 1833. Mexicans did live in Texas, and
fought for the independence of Texas. The majority of Texans were Americans
and fought for their independence. After the war the Americans intentionally
or non-intentionally forced most Mexicans out of Texas. The ones that stayed
faced racial tensions that continue to today.
After gaining independence from Mexico, Texas wanted to join the United
States immediately. The U.S. Congress voted against Texas from joining the
Union. Congress was worried that annexation of Texas would anger Mexico.
Mexico had never officially recognized Texas as independent. Congress was
concerned that annexation would start a war with Mexico. Mexico’s repose to
American annexation was not the only factor in deciding against annexation.
If Texas was to become a state, it would be a slave state. At the time, the