s denouncing the Mexican-American War
, put forth by Abraham Lincoln
James K. Polk rode into the White House on a groundswell of manifest destiny - the U.S. electorate put him in power with the understanding that he would expand American territory. He campaigned promising to annex Texas into the Union - Texan politicians had wanted this since they had achieved independence from Mexico in 1836, but a number of influential Congressmen were opposed, worrying that it would inflame sectional conflict. With Polk's election, however, the annexation would finally occur.
Texas had territory that remained disputed with the Mexican government, between the Nueces and Rio Grande Rivers. The United States had previously recognized the Nueces as the border, but after the annexation, switched to the Texan position, which was that Mexico's northern border was farther south, at the Rio Grande.
Refusing monetary enticements to see things the U.S.'s way, Mexico left Polk with no peaceful ways to get the territory in Texas and California he desired, and so he sent Zachary Taylor to cross the Nueces, and into disputed territory. Taylor's men were attacked, and Polk sent a message to Congress on May 11, 1846, saying, "Mexico has passed the boundary of the United States, has invaded our territory and shed American blood upon America's soil," and asking Congress to declare war. They did so overwhelmingly two days later.
Abraham Lincoln was at the time a freshman Congressman, a Whig from Illinois. Later in the war, he became more and more vocal in his opposition to the war, and on December 22, 1847, introduced what were known as the "Spot Resolutions," demanding that Polk show Congress where American blood had been shed on American soil. Although never voted on, the resolutions represented a critique of Polk's justifications for war, entered into the country's record. The full text, taken from "The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln," Volume 1, Edited by Roy P. Basler, as quoted at http://www.animatedatlas.com/mexwar/lincoln1.html, follows:
December 22, 1847
Whereas the President of the United States, in his message of May 11th. 1846, [leading to a Declaration of War against Mexico] has declared that "The Mexican Government not only refused to receive him" (the envoy of the U.S.) "or listen to his propositions, but, after a long continued series of menaces, have at last invaded our teritory, and shed the blood of our fellow citizens on our own soil"
And again, in his message of December 8, 1846 that "We had ample cause of war against Mexico, long before the breaking out of hostilities. But even then we forbore to take redress into our own hands, until Mexico herself became the aggressor by invading our soil in hostile array, and shedding the blood of our citizens"
And yet again, in his message of December 7- 1847 that "The Mexican Government refused even to hear the terms of adjustment which he" (our minister of peace) "was authorized to propose; and finally, under wholly unjustifiable pretexts, involved the two countries in war, by invading the teritory of the State of Texas, striking the first blow, and shedding the blood of our citizens on our own soil"
And whereas this House desires to obtain a full knowledge of all the facts which go to establish whether the particular spot of soil on which the blood of our citizens was so shed, was, or was not, our own soil, at that time; therefore
Resolved by the House of Representatives, that the President of the United States be respectfully requested to inform this House--
First: Whether the spot of soil on which the blood of our citizens was shed, as in his messages declared, was, or was not, within the teritories of Spain, at least from the treaty of 1819 until the Mexican revolution
Second: Whether that spot is, or is not, within the teritory which was wrested from Spain, by the Mexican revolution.
Third: Whether that spot is, or is not, within a settlement of people, which settlement had existed ever since, long before the Texas revolution, until it's inhabitants fled from the approach of the U.S. Army.
Fourth: Whether that settlement is, or is not, isolated from any and all other settlements, by the Gulf of Mexico, and the Rio Grande, on the South and West, and by wide uninhabited regions on the North and East.
Fifth: Whether the People of that settlement, or a majority of them, or any of them, had ever, previous to the bloodshed, mentioned in his messages, submitted themselves to the government or laws of Texas, or of the United States, by consent, or by compulsion, either by accepting office, or voting at elections, or paying taxes, or serving on juries, or having process served upon them, or in any other way.
Sixth: Whether the People of that settlement, did, or did not, flee from the approach of the United States Army, leaving unprotected their homes and their growing crops, before the blood was shed, as in his messages stated; and whether the first blood so shed, was, or was not shed, within the enclosure of the People, or some of them, who had thus fled from it.
Seventh: Whether our citizens, whose blood was shed, as in his messages declared, were, or were not, at that time, armed officers, and soldiers, sent into that settlement, by the military order of the President through the Secretary of War--and
Eighth: Whether the military force of the United States, including those citizens, was, or was not, so sent into that settlement, after Genl. Taylor had, more than once, intimated to the War Department that, in his opinion, no such movement was necessary to the defence or protection of Texas.