“When they were safely out of the city, one of the angels ordered, ‘Run for your lives! And don’t look back or stop anywhere in the valley!…’” —Genesis 19:17
Marines Capture Los Angeles, January 10, 1847
ith the election of President James K. Polk came Texas annexation and the advancement of American “Manifest Destiny,” a widely accepted theory that the United States was destined to control the North American continent from the Atlantic to the Pacific Oceans. After Mexico rebuffed the offer by the American government to purchase Mexican land — including California and the Southwest — American troops moved into the territory between the Rio Grande and Nueces Rivers, a much disputed area claimed by both Texas and Mexico. Fighting broke out between soldiers and civilians of the two nations, and Congress declared war on Mexico.
Westward the Course of Empire Takes Its Way, or simply Westward Ho!, by Emmanuel Leutze depicts the popular notion that America’s borders were destined to stretch from the Atlantic to the Pacific
The United States’ War with Mexico included a number of little “battles” in various parts of the province of California. In most cases, the Mexican authorities capitulated or evacuated the targeted towns without incurring any casualties. Because of the sparse population of California — which included both Mexicans and Americans — neither side actually had active military forces on site at the beginning of the war. Eventually U.S. troops, official and unofficial, banded together to overthrow the titular authorities of the region. The final engagements took place in the Los Angeles area, securing the entire province for the United States.