commanders and company leader that proved crucial to American victory. With the Americans on the outskirts of Mexico City, Scott assaulted the last bastion protecting the Mexican capitol: Chapultepec Castle, a formidable fort that sat atop a 200-foot high hill. Scott laid siege to the castle and captured it. The next day, American troopsmarched triumphantly into Mexico City. With them was Nicholas Trist, a U.S. government official assigned to negotiate peace and land terms with the Mexican government. However, after defeat at Chapultepec, Santa Anna resigned as president and fled the city, leaving Trist with no one to negotiate with. This proved a dangerous situation for U.S. forces, leaving them trapped deep in Mexico and surrounded by a potentially hostile population that might mount a guerilla war to slowly strangle Scott’s army. Fortunately, the Mexican congress appointed a special commission to parley with Trist. Under intense pressure at home from the anti-war Whigs and worried about GeneralScott’s political aspirations (Scott was also a member of the Whig Party), Polk fired Trist and ordered him to return home. Trist ignored the recall and concluded the TREATY OF GUADALUPE HIDALGOon February 2, 1848. In the treaty, Mexico agreed to the Rio Grande as a boundary for Texas. It also ceded California, New Mexico, most of Arizona, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming and Colorado to the United States (525,000 square miles, 42 percent of Mexican territory) to the U.S. According to the treaty, Mexicans in the annexed areas had the choice of relocating to Mexico or receiving American citizenship
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with full rights. For its part, the U.S. government agreed to pay $15 million to Mexico. Though furious over Trist’s insubordination, Polk decided to submit the treaty to the Senate because it met his minimum instructions concerning boundary lines and because continuation of the war risked serious disunion. The Senate approved the treaty with the required two-thirds majority. Nevertheless, Polk refused to pay Trist beyond the October 1847 date when he had fired him.There was significant opposition to the Mexican War. Democrats generally supported it but the Whigs did not. New England (naturally) was the center of anti-war sentiment largely because they did not want to see more farmer dominated, Democratic Party-supporting states added to the Union that would dilute their power in Congress. HENRY DAVID THOREAUvoiced his opposition to the war with his essay, “On Civil Disobedience.” Abraham Lincoln, a freshman Whig representative from Illinois, also voiced his opposition to the war and became unpopular for it. He lost his re-election bid in 1848 and returned to his law practice. In 1848, just one month before the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was signed, gold was discovered at SUTTER’S MILLin California, touching off the CALIFORNIA GOLDRUSH. This unearthing of gold flooded lightly populated California with new residents.
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