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Mexico: A Biography of Power, by Enrique Krauze I read this back in high school and learned a lot from it!
I just searched and found that one of the books I cited (albeit a bit changed) is available in English:
To answer I am going to dive your question on two parts:
- Did the notion of "Mexico" not command as much loyalty then? (I am going to approach it in a sense of nationalism and Mexican image)
- How accurate were US contentions that Mexico only had a tenuous grasp on the lands that would be forfeited under the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo?
First, Mexican nationalism took a long time to form and is quite difficult to understand as we come from a mixed-race tradition. In fact even today some people view people from the south (sureños), center (sometimes called chilangos but this notion is diminishing) and north (norteños) as different kind of people and perhaps they receive discrimination because of that. But even if there are a lot of different things about them one truth is that they will fiercely stand all united to defend their land, their family and their religion (even if they have to die). This sentiment inspired a good part of the independence and other wars that Mexico had with foreign powers. A common notion was that if they not fought then their wives and daughters were going to be raped and their lands would be ransacked (that indeed happened during the Mexican American War). I cannot affirm that the lower class had a notion or loyalty of being Mexican and defend the homeland as the upper class had. The criollos had a well thought and educated notion of nationalism (born out of Jesuit thought and teachings) as most of them were educated before the independence war, criollos made the bulk of generals and officers of the Mexican army (like Santa Anna). Perhaps the criollos were able to develop this nationalistic way of thought in their troops but in my opinion the soldiers were fighting for what they loved, each one granting a unique sentiment on what nation is.
On the second we enter on a matter of discussion. The Mexican government states that the US took (or even stole) the northern territories from Mexico but the truth is quite simple. After the independence Mexico held a centralist government (this changed after Mexico lost Texas in 1846), if any governor wanted to make a big decision then they had to consult with the President and the senate before committing any action. For states nearby Mexico City this was simple but for states like California, Texas, Guatemala, etc. the action of sending a message and receiving an answer took months so they were on themselves most of the time. Government help was scarce and the only ones that reached so far away from the center were catholic missions that most of the times failed. That is why when the US took over a lot of territories they had to deal with indigenous tribes and not with Mexican population. A lot of the sentiment of "the US stole land from Mexico" comes from the fact that today Texas, California, etc. are economic and cultural titans; is funny to see how these people never talk on how Mexico lost Belice or Guatemala, of course you can add many things to the table as the US is no saint and commited quite a few war crimes. So yes, Mexico only had a tenuous grasp on the lands that would be forfeited under the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, I would even go so far as to say that Mexico did not lost any land as it was never truly theirs.
No one is going to mention Enrique Krauze?
I’m in the midst of reading this