- Historic Sites
May/June 1998 | Volume 49, Issue 3
The second question is easy: What is the most underrated war in American history? The Mexican War of 1846. How many modern wars have ended in cutting one country almost in half and adding 25 percent to the area of the victor? And this with relatively little bloodshed or disruption. Then there’s the political and moral side of it. The principled opposition (well, partly principled) by the Whigs to Polk’s expansionism foreshadowed in many ways opposition to the U.S. role in the Philippine insurrection early in this century and, far more dramatically, to Vietnam in the latter part of this century. When Rep. Abraham Lincoln rose in the House and demanded details of the alleged Mexican atrocities toward American citizens, he was anticipating by a century and a quarter those who questioned Lyndon Johnson on the Tonkin Gulf incident.
The annexation may well have made the Civil War inevitable, and it certainly was a blooding for that war’s generals—Lt. U.S. Grant and Capts. Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee, to name only three. Think of it: Had the Whigs had their way, Hollywood might today be speaking Spanish. Given the continuation of present demographic trends, it may yet. But the war delayed that by a couple of centuries.
I don’t know that there is one, but the American fascination with the Civil War has certainly given that conflict more than its fair share of ink.