Inside out and outside in

Father Marcello Domeco Jarauta stood before a firing squad in Guanajuato, Mexico on July 19, 1848. His crime had been to continue resisting the US invasion of his homeland.

Father Marcello Domeco Jarauta stood before a firing squad in Guanajuato, Mexico on July 19, 1848. His crime had been to continue resisting the US invasion of his homeland.

The forced signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo had officially ended the Mexican American War on February 2nd or as it is called south of the Rio Grande or Rio Bravo del Norte depending on which side you are on, the ‘North American Intervention’. This treaty ceded 55 per cent of the original territory of Mexico to an expansionist USA. Prior to 1848, treaties recognized a Mexico stretching north to the border of its state of Alta California and the Oregon Territory of the United States.

Father Domeco was certainly not alone in his continued opposition to this unjust war of aggression. Drumhead court-martials and trials feigning legality permanently silenced leaders like Pablo Montoya of New Mexico. Montoya’s capital crime, the occupying army said, was treason. Lewis H. Garrard, who was present when Montoya’s death verdict was read out later wrote “I left the room, sick at heart. Justice! Out upon the word when its distorted meaning is a warrant for murdering those who defended to the last their country and their homes.”

A who’s who of Americans enlarged on Garrard’s critique. Abraham Lincoln almost a one-term Congressman because of his opposition to the war, and Henry David Thoreau, whose essay Civil Disobedience would influence later leaders like Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr., were among them.

Ulysses S. Grant, who served as a junior officer in Mexico and later the 18th president of the United States, would decades later write in his Personal Memoirs of that the war, “as one of the most unjust wars ever waged by a stronger against a weaker nation. It was an instance of a republic following the bad example of European monarchies, in not considering justice in their desire to acquire additional territory.”

Canada, more specifically British Columbia, actually has a strong connection to the Mexican American War. American expansionist sentiment under the banner of “Manifest Destiny” bought a narrow electoral victory for James Polk in the 1844 presidential campaign. The slogan “Fifty-four Forty or Fight” focused US territorial ambitions in the Pacific northwest on all the territory up to the border with Russian America. Needless to say, this put the United States into direct conflict with the British Empire.

Facing the possibility of two simultaneous wars, President Polk accepted the compromise position of the 49th parallel as the boundary from Manitoba west to the Pacific Ocean with the exception of the whole of Vancouver Island remaining north of the international line. Britain equally had no desire for a third war with the United States in 70 years. Plus facing the food crisis, now known as the Irish Famine, imports of American wheat were essential.

So it was that the way was paved for the eventual admission of British Columbia into the Canadian confederation as is sixth province on July 20, 1871 and Polk got to wage war on Mexico. Slavery, gold and British naval supremacy can be counted among a host of other factors playing into these events as well.

With the benefit of historical hindsight we can see and judge the conflicts that have devastated lands and wrecked havoc on peoples. How do we do this for the troubles swirling around us now? What socio-political precautionary principle should be develop to weigh any potential involvement in struggles afflicting our planet now?

A strong value base plus critical analysis skills are essential to turning the problems before us inside out and outside in before we put the wealth and human resources of our land in harms way. What would Lincoln, Thoreau and Grant, let alone Gandhi and King, say about the conflicts being waged in today’s world?

Michael Dougherty is co-chair of the social justice committee of Sacred Heart Cathedral of Whitehorse. Contact pazypan@yukon.net.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A Copper Ridge resident clears their driveway after a massive over night snowfall in Whitehorse on Nov. 2, 2020. Environment Canada has issued a winter storm warning for the Whitehorse and Haines Junction areas for Jan. 18. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Winter storm warning for Haines Junction and Whitehorse

Environment Canada says the storm will develop Monday and last until Tuesday

Maria Metzen off the start line of the Yukon Dog Mushers Association’s sled dog race on Jan. 9. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News)
Mushers race in preparation for FirstMate Babe Southwick

The annual race is set for Feb. 12 and 13.

The Yukon government is making changes to the medical travel system, including doubling the per diem and making destinations for medical services more flexible. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Subsidy for medical travel doubled with more supports coming

The change was recommended in the Putting People First report endorsed by the government

Chloe Sergerie, who was fined $500 under the <em>Civil Emergency Measures Act</em> on Jan. 12, says she made the safest choice available to her when she entered the territory. (Mike Thomas/Yukon News file)
Woman fined $500 under CEMA says she made ‘safest decision’ available

Filling out a declaration at the airport was contrary to self-isolation, says accused

Yukon University has added seven members to its board of governors in recent months. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
New members named to Yukon U’s board of governors

Required number of board members now up to 17

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: Your Northern regulatory adventure awaits!

“Your Northern adventure awaits!” blared the headline on a recent YESAB assessment… Continue reading

Yukoner Shirley Chua-Tan is taking on the role of vice-chair of the social inclusion working group with the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences’ oversight panel and working groups for the autism assessment. (Submitted)
Canadian Academy of Health Sciences names Yukoner to panel

Shirley Chua-Tan is well-known for a number of roles she plays in… Continue reading

The Fish Lake area viewed from the top of Haeckel Hill on Sept. 11, 2018. The Yukon government and Kwanlin Dün First Nation (KDFN) announced they are in the beginning stages of a local area planning process for the area. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Local area planning for Fish Lake announced

The Government of Yukon and Kwanlin Dün First Nation (KDFN) announced in… Continue reading

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

Fire damage, photographed on Jan. 11, to a downtown apartment building which occurred late in the evening on Jan. 8. Zander Firth, 20, from Inuvik, was charged with the arson and is facing several other charges following his Jan. 12 court appearance. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News)
More charges for arson suspect

The Inuvik man charged in relation to the fire at Ryder Apartments… Continue reading

The grace period for the new Yukon lobbyist registry has come to an end and those who seek to influence politicians will now need to report their efforts to a public database. (Mike Thomas/Yukon News file)
Grace period for new lobbyist registry ends

So far nine lobbyists have registered their activities with politicians in the territory

Most Read