How Close Yucatan Came to Becoming Part of the U.S.? Very close!

Know How Close Yucatan Came to Becoming Part of the US. Old map of Mexico
In the turbulent 19th century, the Yucatán Peninsula twice declared independence from Mexico, forming the short-lived Republic of Yucatán. This forgotten chapter of history nearly saw the Peninsula become part of the burgeoning United States.

The first Republic, established in 1823, swiftly joined the Mexican Federation. However, tensions resurfaced, leading to a second declaration of independence in 1839. Amidst internal strife and a U.S. naval blockade, Yucatán’s president, Santiago Méndez Ibarra, made a desperate plea to Washington. He offered the “dominion and sovereignty” of Yucatán to the United States in exchange for military aid and an end to the blockade.

President James Polk, eager to expand U.S. territory and preempt European influence, championed the cause. The U.S. House of Representatives even passed a “Yucatan Bill,” which paved the way for potential annexation. However, concerns about Yucatán’s internal conflicts, the ongoing Mexican-American War, and the prospect of a protracted war with the Maya people ultimately stalled the bill in Congress.

Thus, Yucatán’s flirtation with U.S. statehood ended, and the Peninsula rejoined Mexico in 1848. This near-miss annexation remains a fascinating “what if” scenario in the intertwined histories of Mexico and the United States.

Not only did Congress fail to act on the bill, but they were also concerned about extending a military already engaged in the war with Mexico and feared a drawn-out conflict with the Mayas.

After coming within a vote from the U.S. Congress of potentially being absorbed into the republic to the north, the Republic of Yucatán would return again to Mexico after less than a decade of intermittent independence.

Considering that the presidents of both Yucatán and the United States were in agreement, it’s striking how close Yucatán came to becoming part of the US.

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