1850-1930 was a dangerous time in America-an era during which problems were often solved with a revolver and a shallow grave. American Lawmen puts a lens on the brutal outlaws who posed a direct threat to society, leading to the birth of law enforcement in America. As told from the perspective of the men and women who fought to create justice and establish order, each episode chronicles the story of brave citizens who first picked up a badge to protect the innocent, and establish a safer society during a violent and turbulent time.
Runtime: 60 minutes
American Lawmen - Mexican–American War - Netflix
The Mexican–American War, also known as the Mexican War in the United States and in Mexico as the American intervention in Mexico, was an armed conflict between the United States of America and the United Mexican States (Mexico) from 1846 to 1848. It followed in the wake of the 1845 American annexation of the independent Republic of Texas, which Mexico still considered its northeastern province and a part of its territory after its de facto secession in the 1836 Texas Revolution a decade earlier. Mexico obtained independence from the Kingdom of Spain and the Spanish Empire with the Treaty of Córdoba in 1821, and briefly experimented with monarchy, becoming a republic in 1824. It was characterized by considerable instability, leaving it ill-prepared for international conflict only two decades later, when war broke out in 1846. In the decades preceding the war, Native American raids in Mexico's sparsely settled north prompted the Mexican government to sponsor migration from the United States to the Mexican province of Texas to create a buffer. However, the newly named “Texians” revolted against the Mexican government of President/dictator Antonio López de Santa Anna, who had usurped the Mexican Constitution of 1824, in the subsequent 1836 Texas Revolution, creating a republic not recognized by Mexico, which still claimed it as part of its national territory. In 1845, the Texan Republic agreed to an offer of annexation by the U.S. Congress and became the 28th state in the Union on December 29 that year. In 1845, newly elected U.S. President James K. Polk made a proposition to the Mexican government to purchase the disputed lands between the Nueces River and the Rio Grande river further south. When that offer was rejected, President Polk moved U.S. troops commanded by Major General Zachary Taylor further south into the disputed territory. Mexican forces attacked an American Army outpost (“Thornton Affair”) in the occupied territory, killing 12 U.S. soldiers and capturing 52. These same Mexican troops later laid siege to an American fort along the Rio Grande. Polk cited this attack as an invasion of U.S. territory and requested that the Congress declare war. U.S. forces quickly occupied the capital town of Santa Fe de Nuevo México along the upper Rio Grande and the Pacific coast territory province of Alta California (Upper California). They then invaded to the south into parts of central Mexico (modern-day northeastern Mexico and northwest Mexico). Meanwhile, the Pacific Squadron of the United States Navy conducted a blockade and took control of several garrisons on the Pacific coast farther south in lower Baja California Territory. The U.S. Army, under the command of Major General Winfield Scott, after several fierce battles of stiff resistance from the Mexican Army outside of the capital, Mexico City, eventually captured the city, having marched west from the port of Veracruz, where the Americans staged their first amphibious landing on the Gulf of Mexico coast. The 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, forced onto the remnant Mexican government, ended the war and specified its major consequence, the Mexican Cession of the northern territories of Alta California and Santa Fe de Nuevo México to the United States. The U.S. agreed to pay $15 million compensation for the physical damage of the war. In addition, the United States assumed $3.25 million of debt already owed earlier by the Mexican government to U.S. citizens. Mexico acknowledged the loss of their province, later the Republic of Texas (and now the State of Texas), and thereafter cited and acknowledged the Rio Grande as its future northern national border with the United States. Mexico had lost over one-third of its original territory from its 1821 independence. The territorial expansion of the United States toward the Pacific coast had been the goal of Polk, the leader of the Democratic Party. At first, the war was highly controversial in the United States, with the Whig Party, anti-imperialists, and anti-slavery elements strongly opposing. Critics in the United States pointed to the heavy casualties suffered by U.S. forces compared to earlier American wars, and the conflict's high monetary cost. The war intensified the debate over slavery in the United States, contributing to bitter debates that culminated in the American Civil War (1861–1865). In Mexico, the war came in the middle of continued domestic political turmoil, which increased into chaos during the conflict. The military defeat and loss of territory was a disastrous blow, causing Mexico to enter “a period of self-examination... as its leaders sought to identify and address the reasons that had led to such a debacle.” In the immediate aftermath of the war, some prominent Mexicans wrote that the war had resulted in “the state of degradation and ruin” in Mexico, further claiming, for “the true origin of the war, it is sufficient to say that the insatiable ambition of the United States, favored by our weakness, caused it.” The shift in the Mexico-U.S. border left many Mexican citizens separated from their national government. For the indigenous peoples who had never accepted Spanish or Mexican rule, the change in border meant conflicts with a new outside power.
American Lawmen - Desertion - Netflix
Desertion was a major problem for the Mexican Army, depleting forces on the eve of battle. Most soldiers were peasants who had a loyalty to their village and family, but not to the generals who had conscripted them. Often hungry and ill, under-equipped, only partially trained, and never well paid, the soldiers were held in contempt by their officers and had little reason to fight the Americans. Looking for their opportunity, many slipped away from camp to find their way back to their home village. The desertion rate in the U.S. Army was 8.3% (9,200 out of 111,000), compared to 12.7% during the War of 1812 and usual peacetime rates of about 14.8% per year. Many men deserted to join another U.S. unit and get a second enlistment bonus. Some deserted because of the miserable conditions in camp. It has been suggested that others used the army to get free transportation to California, where they deserted to join the gold rush; this, however, is unlikely as gold was only discovered in California on January 24, 1848, less than two weeks before the war concluded. By the time word reached the eastern U.S. that gold had been discovered, word also reached it that the war was over. Several hundred U.S. deserters went over to the Mexican side. Nearly all were recent immigrants from Europe with weak ties to the U.S.. The Mexicans issued broadsides and leaflets enticing U.S. soldiers with promises of money, land bounties, and officers' commissions. Mexican guerrillas shadowed the U.S. Army and captured men who took unauthorized leave or fell out of the ranks. The guerrillas coerced these men to join the Mexican ranks. The generous promises proved illusory for most deserters, who risked being executed if captured by U.S. forces.
American Lawmen - References - Netflix