|The War's Significance
|Digital History ID 3268|
The story of America's conflict with Mexico tends to be overshadowed by the story of the Civil War, which began only a decade and a half later. In fact, the conflict had far-reaching consequences for the nation's future. It increased the nation's size by a third, but it also created deep political divisions that threatened the country's future.
The most significant result of the Mexican War was to reignite the question of slavery in the western territories. Even before the war had begun, philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson had predicted that the United States would "conquer Mexico, but it will be as the man who swallows the arsenic which will bring him down in turn. Mexico will poison us." The war convinced a growing number of Northerners that Southern slaveowners had precipitated the war in order to open new lands to slavery and acquire new slave states.
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