The Spot Resolution – Mexican American War

Lincoln the Congressman Spot Resolution


The Spot Resolution – Mexican American War

In August 1846 Abraham Lincoln was elected to Congress as the Whig representative for his Illinois district and officially embarked on his national political career. When he took his seat in December 1847 he was a freshman representative he found himself in quite a quandary.  Most of his supporters back home were supporters of the current Mexican-American War, Lincoln not so much.

While he was not outright opposed to the war he did question how it was being fought and the reasons why it was being fought. Sort of an early version of “I support the troops, but not the war” that has been all the rage the last twenty years by people in Washington. For Lincoln though one particular thing sort of stuck out to him. In most ways the Mexican War was fought over the disputed border between Texas, now a state, and Mexico.  Tensions ran hot on both sides.  It was not until a unit of the US Army was “bushwhacked’ by the Mexican Army on American soil did the war actually start-up. At least that was the story given by President Polk in 1846 when he asked Congress for a declaration of war.

Lincoln and The Spot

Lincoln decided to challenge the President’s version of events. He requested to be shown on a map the exact spot where the soldiers had been killed. The Spot Resolution, as it became known, was Lincoln’s first real taste of the national stage. It did not go over well. His own party sort of back away from any support for him.  The Democrats accused him of being unpatriotic for questioning the President.  The resolutions were tabled, never debated or voted upon. Lincoln only ended up serving one term in the House before retiring back to his law practice.

For the record it should be noted that the “spot” of the actual ambushed happened well inside the disputed area. So “technically” the attack happened on Mexican soil. Truth be told it was not the first, nor the last time the US went to war under questionable circumstances.