Mexican American War

General Santa Anna's return
General Santa Anna's return ©Image Attribution forthcoming. Image belongs to the respective owner(s).
1846 Aug 6

General Santa Anna's return


Mexico's defeats at Palo Alto and Resaca de la Palma set the stage for the return of Santa Anna, who at the outbreak of the war, was in exile in Cuba. He wrote to the government in Mexico City, stating he did not want to return to the presidency, but he would like to come out of exile in Cuba to use his military experience to reclaim Texas for Mexico. President Farías was driven to desperation. He accepted the offer and allowed Santa Anna to return. Unbeknownst to Farías, Santa Anna had secretly been dealing with U.S. representatives to discuss a sale of all contested territory to the U.S. at a reasonable price, on the condition that he be allowed back in Mexico through the U.S. naval blockades. Polk sent his own representative to Cuba, Alexander Slidell MacKenzie, to negotiate directly with Santa Anna. The negotiations were secret and there are no written records of the meetings, but there was some understanding that came out of the meetings. Polk asked Congress for $2 million to be used in negotiating a treaty with Mexico. The U.S. allowed Santa Anna to return to Mexico, lifting the Gulf Coast naval blockade. However, in Mexico, Santa Anna denied all knowledge of meeting with the U.S. representative or any offers or transactions. Rather than being Polk's ally, he pocketed any money given him and began to plan the defense of Mexico. The Americans were dismayed, including General Scott, as this was an unexpected result. "Santa Anna gloated over his enemies' naïveté: 'The United States was deceived in believing that I would be capable of betraying my mother country.'" Santa Anna avoided getting involved in politics, dedicating himself to Mexico's military defense. While politicians attempted to reset the governing framework to a federal republic, Santa Anna left for the front to retake lost northern territory. Although Santa Anna was elected president in 1846, he refused to govern, leaving that to his vice president, while he sought to engage with Taylor's forces. With the restored federal republic, some states refused to support the national military campaign led by Santa Anna, who had fought with them directly in the previous decade. Santa Anna urged Vice President Gómez Farías to act as a dictator to get the men and materiel needed for the war. Gómez Farías forced a loan from the Catholic Church, but the funds were not available in time to support Santa Anna's army.

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