Week 12: Mexican-American War


Thought Provoker

Think about the United States’ relationship with Mexico today. If the United States were to go to war today with Mexico, what would be the cause? Would it be a popular war? Why or why not?

Optional Starter

Listen to this podcast episode about Americans in Mexico in the 1830s (transcript here). Think about the causes that this episode puts forward for the Mexican-American War.

Non-Optional Activities

Listen to this podcast about the Mexican-American War, or read the transcript. In your response, select one of the primary sources at the end of the transcript, explain what it is, and tell me where it fits into the story of the war (you might need to do a wee bit of research to figure it out). Then write about how this war connects to today, and something that was surprising to you in the episode.

Bonus content

Last semester, in an attempt to cheer everyone up, I made a version of one of those primary sources in the podcast episode. So, if you want to hear it, here it is. If you’re feeling ambitious, you could make one of your own! (Hint hint: You could use something like this as Small Project #7…)

Optional reading

  • Doyle, Robert C. “Manifest Destiny versus Nativism: Mexico, 1846–1848.”In The Enemy in Our Hands, 69–88. University Press of Kentucky, 2010. http://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt2jcngh.10.
  • Dull, Jonathan R. “Trade Protection and War with Mexico, 1815–1861.” In American Naval History, 1607-1865: Overcoming the Colonial Legacy, 65–82. University of Nebraska Press, 2012. https://doi.org/10.2307/j.ctt1d9nqgf.8.
  • Greenberg, Amy S. A Wicked War: Polk, Clay, Lincoln, and the 1846 U.S. Invasion of Mexico. Knopf, 2012.
  • Ruiz, Octavio Madigan, Amy Sanders, and Meredith Sommers. “Mexico’s Loss of Land: Perspectives from Mexico and the United States.” OAH Magazine of History 10, no. 2 (1996): 24–35.
  • Silverstone, Scott A. “The Mexican War and Territorial Expansion.” In Divided Union, 157–201. The Politics of War in the Early American Republic. Cornell University Press, 2004. http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7591/j.ctv2n7gkh.8.


For today, read over the Final Project Guidelines, and then answer the poll in Slack about which project you think you’re going to choose to expand. (This is not a binding choice.)