• The Mexican American War

    Fueled by land hunger and a quest for adventure, Americans wanted to move further west across North America. Many people, including President James K. Polk, believed in the idea of “Manifest Destiny,” that God had given North America to them and it was the country’s destiny to spread across the continent to the Pacific Ocean.

    The Mexican government did not agree with Americans’ ideas about Manifest Destiny, especially when it came to Texas, New Mexico, and California. The U.S. government attempted to buy these lands but Mexico refused. Conflicts over border lines increased and in April, 1846, Mexican soldiers attacked American soldiers, killing twelve men. President Polk asked Congress to declare war.


    Fun Facts

    • The Mexican American War was the first American war fought on foreign soil.
    • The Mexican army was ill-prepared to fight against the Americans. The U.S. won most of the battles.
    • Less than two years later, on February 28, 1848, the two countries signed a peace treaty. The U.S. paid Mexico $15 million, plus damages, for Texas, California, and all its territory north of the Rio Grande River. Mexico lost one-third of its territory in this deal.


    1. Destiny: fate; a belief that somethings happen that are beyond our control
    2. Declare: to formally announce

    Treaty: an agreement, typically between two governments

    Questions and Answers

    Question: Did the Battle of the Alamo occur during the Mexican American War?

    Answer: The famous Battle of the Alamo occurred ten years earlier during Texas’s rebellion to gain independence from Mexico. Two hundred men took control of the Alamo, a fort, which had previously been a mission. The men fought for 13 days against a Mexican army that included thousands of soldiers before finally surrendering. The commanding Mexican general commanded that no prisoners be taken and almost everyone in the fort was killed, including the famous frontiersman, Davy Crockett. Later that year, Texas did gain independence from Mexico and was annexed by the United States.

    Learn More

    Visit PBS to learn more about the Mexican American War.


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