October 19, 1847 – New York Herald Editor Reconsiders His Praise of Imperialism and Rape

For months in 1847, the U.S. debated on the merits of acquiring large swaths of Mexican territory. In particular, Democratic newspapers in the New York were advocating annexation. On October 8, 1847, the New York Herald exulted:

It is a gorgeous prospect, this annexation of all Mexico. Like the Sabine virgins, she will soon learn to love her ravishers.”

The Rape of the Sabine Women by Giambologna, in  Florence, Italy

The Rape of the Sabine Women by Giambologna, in Florence, Italy

Eleven days later, on October 19, the editor decided to publish an amendment to his previous statement:

When the bride is reluctant, the marriage is generally ill-starred and unhappy.”

I’m guessing his own marriage got a bit unhappy after the first declaration….

The New York Sun editor was probably wiser sticking with the ever-popular racism angle, opining on October 22:

The [Mexican] race is perfectly accustomed to being conquered, and the only new lesson we shall teach is that our victories will give liberty, safety, and prosperity to the vanquished, if they know enough to profit by the appearance of our stars.”

Source: Manifest Destiny and Mission in American History by Frederick Merk, Harvard University Press, 1995


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