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The Mexico of Santa Anna



I said: " When Santa Anna came to power, Mexico was the dominant power in North America. When he died, Mexico lagged dismally behind the United States". John Hart explains one defeat: "At Buena Vista the Mexicans ran out of ammo and withdrew under the cover of night. Had Santa Anna not withdrawn, his critics would have even more to say". Hank Greely says:

"Mexico was the dominant power in North America in 1833? I hope my view of history is not too dominated by the history of my country, but your statement seems unlikely. The US, augmented by the Louisiana Purchase, was spreading across about 2 million square miles of area, which I suspect was more than Mexico, even with its northern territories. It was beginning to expand towards the Northwest, creating territorial disputes with England. My guess is that the populations of the two countries were not greatly different. Agriculture, industry, and trade were thriving in the US. The dawning of the railroad era would soon further enhance US strength. Militarily, it had held the British, battle-hardened by the wars with Napoleon, to a draw in the War of 1812, though not without much incompetence and dishonor. It had announced, albeit in much weaker form than later asserted, the so-called Monroe Doctrine. I am confident that, in spite of the implications of my high school history textbooks, it was not ranked by Europe as a first class power, let alone widely viewed as a country with a high destiny. On the other hand, I would be very surprised if it was not considered stronger and of more potential international importance than Mexico".

But I recognize that I could be surprised. One test might be to count the inches of news coverage of the two countries in newspapers in Paris or in other important European capitals (though perhaps setting Madrid off against London). Another might be to examine the diplomatic histories of the era to see which country got less attention. I would be interested in any further information on this point from WAISers".

RH: Hank presents an American view. I stick by my statement; In 1823 Mexico City was the largest city in the Americas, and Mexico was settled as far north as San Francisco, Santa Fe, and even further north. I too would be interested in any informed comments on this. However, I do not accept the rather wild statements some Mexicans have sent me.

Ronald Hilton - 11/24/02


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