HomeSearch this site   English Espanol

The Aftermath of War

A Legacy of the War Between the United States and Mexico

by Miguel Ángel González Quiroga
Universidad de Nuevo Leon

Photograph of building interiorIn viewing the war between the United States and Mexico from a perspective far removed from geopolitical concerns -- we get a different feeling about what was gained and what was lost. It has been said that the United States got land and Mexico got lessons. But the sudden acquisition of land became a burden. We return again to Walt Whitman. In his song of the open road in 1856, he wrote, "It is provided in the essence of things that from any fruition of success, no matter what, shall come forth something to make a greater struggle necessary." Can this be a premonition of the fast approaching civil war?

And what of Mexico? Granted she gained some valuable lessons, not least of which was a growing sense of nationalism. But she did not rise like the Phoenix from the ashes of the conflict as did Germany and Japan in this century. Indeed she had not flown very high in the thirty year period before the war. In some ways we are still awaiting her rise.

And many among our people still lament the land that was lost. I think we should stop worrying about it. A nation is not finally measured in the quantity of its land but in the quality of its people and in the strength of its institutions. Have not island nations become world empires?

After a century and a half, we are far enough away from the conflict to analyze it with serene intelligence, conscious of its many complexities, mindful of the passions it has raised, but steadfast in our mission to seek the truth.