Mexican American War

The war between the United States and Mexico in 1846 to 1848 was basically a struggle for land.

The United States wanted the "frontier". The U.S. felt that it was its right to become a transcontinental country and expand to the west coast. More land was wanted to accommodate a growing population, and this desired land was also rich in natural resources.

Mexico was on the defensive during the war. Its government claimed that the area that is now California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Wyoming, and Utah had long belonged to Mexico and that American settlers had no right to make their homes there.

When the war ended and the Treaty of Guadeloupe Hidalgo had been signed, the United States had gotten its wishes and was substantially larger geographically. The result of the war was that for the first time, the United States encompassed the entire continent from sea to sea.

Sample some of the following activities to learn more about the Mexican American War.


Places To Go    People To See    Things To Do    Teacher Resources    Bibliography

Places To Go

The following are places to go (some real and some virtual) to find out about the Mexican American War.

The Alamo - San Antonio, TX
The battle of the Alamo was part of the annexation of Texas from Mexico, which took place ten years before the Mexican American War. This annexation is believed to be one of the major factors leading up to the war. This official website has lots of information as well as pictures about this historic site.
The Battle of Buena Vista
The Battle of Buena Vista was lead by General Taylor. Find out how he and his horse escaped a cannon ball that was coming directly at him.
Fort Scott
Take a look at the support that this historic fort was in the Mexican American War.
History of the Marine's Hymn
During the Mexican-American War, a battalion of Marines, joined the forces of General Winfield Scott to capture the capital of Mexico.
Invasión Yanqui: The Mexican War
Check out several artist renditions of the war in this online gallery.
Mexico City National Cemetery
Virtually visit this cemetery in Mexico City where 750 U.S. soldiers who died during the battles for Mexico City or during its occupation from1847-1848 are buried in a mass grave.
Palo Alto Battlefield
Virtually travel to the site of the first battle of the Mexican American War. The location is close to Brownsville, Texas, and the battle took place on May 8, 1846. General Zachary Taylor defeated a Mexican force led by General Mariano Arista, who then retreated to Resaca de la Palma. 
Remembering the Alamo
Read some primary sources of information about the battle of the Alamo, fought 10 years before the war.

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People To See

Henry David Thoreau
Henry David Thoreau links: a concise, simple directory to resources on Henry David Thoreau, American author, poet and philosopher. More links to Thoreau's works including Civil Disobedience, Walden, Slavery in Massachusetts.
Kit Carson
Get to know more about Kit Carson and find out what role he played in the Mexican American War.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Ralph Waldo Emerson links: a concise, simple directory to resources on Ralph Waldo Emerson, American author, poet and philosopher.
Santa Anna
Make the acquaintance of Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, the Mexican president and general during the Mexican American War. He is also well-known for his role in the battle at the Alamo for Texas independence.
Winfield Scott: A North Georgia Notable
Meet General Winfield Scott. Like Zachary Taylor, he was a general in the Mexican-American War. Scott's nickname was "Old Fuss and Feathers" because of his impeccable military dress and manner.
Zachary Taylor
Meet Zachary Taylor. He was a general in the Mexican-American War and had the nickname "Old Rough and Ready". His fame as a war hero helped him win the presidency in 1848.

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Things To Do

Expansionism & Manifest Destiny
Learn about manifest destiny. It was a philosophy or attitude held by many Americans in 1800s. The basis of the belief was that the United States was destined and had a divine right to expand across the continent.
Mexican War
Find out what the issue of slavery had to do with the Mexican American War.
Texas War of Independence
Learn how the Texas War of Independence and the trouble at the Alamo helped to set the stage for sentiments that led to the Mexican American War.
The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo
The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo officially ended the war. This link has background information about this important treaty as well as digital copies of the original.
Treaty with Mexico
Read full text of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo which ended the Mexican-American War.
The U.S. Mexican War
Find maps of the battles of the war, a gallery of images relating to the war, full text of speeches, proclamations, treaties, battle reports, etc., a chronology of the war, and more.
US Mexican War
Find a timeline of the Mexican American War form this excellent site.
US Mexican War Monuments and Memorials
Find out if there are any monument to the Mexican American War that are located in Salt Lake City.  

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Teacher Resources

A Guide to the Mexican War
The Library of Congress has compiled an extensive list of resources in the government archives to help learn about the Mexican American War.
James K. Polk is Elected President
Learn a little about the president of the united states during the Mexican American War.
Lincoln's Spot Resolutions
Lincoln was not convinced that the "spot" that the first blood of the war actually spilt was on U.S. soil. He later introduced the Spot Resolutions. This website has the original pages of the resolutions as well as resources to teach about taking sides on an issue.
The Mexican American War
February 23rd is an important date in the Mexican American War. Find out why from this Library of Congress collection.
PBS: U.S. Mexican War: Educator Resources
These lesson plans and activities are designed for secondary students. One lesson includes a debate about Manifest Destiny, taking a look at both sides of the issue.
Remember the Alamo
This teaching guide was developed for a PBS special entitled "Remember the Alamo."

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  • Carter, Alden R. The Mexican War: Manifest Destiny. New York: F. Watts, c1992.
  • Collier, Christopher. Hispanic America, Texas, and the Mexican War, 1835-1850. Tarrytown, NY: Benchmark Books, c1999.
  • Gold, Susan Dudley. Land Pacts. New York: Twenty-first Century Books, c1997.
  • Mills, Bronwyn. The Mexican War. New York: Facts On File, c1992.
  • Nardo, Don. The Mexican American War. San Diego, CA: Lucent Books, c1999.