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Robert F. Kennedy's Remarks on Mexican War Cause Furor

Feb. 17, 1962 - Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy found himself in the center of a Texas twister last night because of an impromptu 22-word opinion he gave on the war between the United States and Mexico, 1846-48. “Some from Texas might disagree,” the Attorney General told a student in Indonesia on Wednesday, “but I think we were unjustified. I do not think we can be proud of that episode.” As Mr. Kennedy foresaw, “some from Texas” do disagree. Tempers are boiling from San Antonio to Washington. Gov. Price Daniel of Texas, a Democrat, said, “I cannot believe it.” Senator John G. Tower, Texas Republican, said Mr. Kennedy’s “glaring ignorance” of history was a “shocking surprise to many Texans who voted for his big brother for President.” Mr. Tower called for an apology to the Lone Star State and all its inhabitants. One of the loudest complaints came from “Battle Line,” a publication of the Republican National Committee. It said: “If Bobby holds to his views when he gets home, perhaps he will recommend that the Alamo be torn down to make way for an urban renewal project.” In fact, the Alamo fell in 1836, 10 years before the Mexican War began. Between that year and 1845, Texas was an independent republic. A border dispute with Mexico followed the U.S. annexation of Texas in December 1845. Fighting that began in May of 1846 led to what has been described as the first successful offensive war in American history. Combat experience was gained by many officers who subsequently won more lasting fame in the Civil War: Lee, Grant, Jackson, Longstreet, Beauregard, Sherman, McClellan and Hooker. Out of the conflict, the U.S. gained territory that became Arizona, New Mexico, California, Nevada, Utah, and part of Colorado.

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