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Mexican-American War

James Polk

Mexican-American War: James Polk was the 11th American President who served in office from March 4, 1845 to March 4, 1849. One of the important events during his presidency was the Mexican American War.

Definition and Summary of the Mexican-American War
Summary and definition:
The Mexican American War, also known as the Invasion of Mexico, lasted just under 2 years from April 25, 1846 – February 2, 1848. The Mexican American War grew out of unresolved border disputes between the Republic of Texas and Mexico after the Texas Annexation by the United States.

The Mexican American War was fought in  Texas, New Mexico, California and Central, Northern and Eastern Mexico including Mexico City. It ended in 1848 with the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in which Mexico was forced to sell Alta California and New Mexico to the United States for $15 million.

What were the Causes of the Mexican American War?
What were the Causes of the Mexican American War? The causes of the Mexican American War were:

  • The goal of James Polk for American territorial expansion

  • The ideals of the Manifest Destiny

  • Cultural differences between the Mexicans and the Americans settlers in the area

  • The refusal of Mexico to acknowledge the independence of Texas and its admission to the United States

  • Border disputes - Mexico claimed the Nueces River as its northeastern border, while the U.S. claimed the Rio Grande River

Mexican American War: Manifest Destiny
Mexico never acknowledged the independence of Texas and protested against its admission to the United States and disputed the border. Offers were made by the US to purchase the land but Mexico refused.  President James K. Polk, with his belief in the Manifest Destiny of the United States (the conviction that Americans were divinely ordained to expand and dominate the continent) ordered General Zachary Taylor to march to the Rio Grande and occupy the disputed territory. Taylor was attacked by  the Mexicans and the United States declared war on Mexico

The Mexican American War Summary for kids
The summary of the Mexican American War can be divided into three parts:

  • The seizure of California led by Stephen Kearny (detailed info can be found in the article on the Bear Flag Revolt and the California Republic)

  • The Mexican campaign headed by General Zachary Taylor across the Rio Grande

  • The Mexican campaign headed by General Winfield Scott that ended in the capture of the City of Mexico

The Mexican American War Summary: The General Zachary Taylor Campaign
The Mexican campaign led by General Zachary Taylor in the Mexican American War started with his orders from President James Polk The objective of the Taylor's campaign was to  preserve the line of the Rio Grande and then to advance into Mexico. The May 8, 1846 Battle of Palo Alto, the Siege of Fort Texas and the May 8, 1846 Battle of Resaca de la Palma were fought before the actual declaration of war on May 13, 1846 and resulted in victories for the United States. These victories achieved Taylor's first goal of maintaining the line of the Rio Grande. General Taylor crossed the Rio Grande in September 1846 and outnumbered by the Mexican army, faced a series of defeats. The General Taylor took his revenge at the Battle of Buena Vista on February 22-23, 1847. His victory at the Battle of Buena Vista was the last combat during Zachary Taylor's campaign.

The Mexican American War Summary: The General Winfield Scott Campaign
The goal of the Mexican campaign led by General Winfield Scott in the Mexican American War was that he should land at Vera Cruz, march 200 miles to the city of Mexico and capture Mexico city and force the Mexicans to make peace. Between August-September 1846 U.S. volunteers assemble under General John E. Wool and join General Zachary Taylor and his troops. General Winfield Scott, although still considerably outnumbered,  captured Veracruz with the help of the US navy in the Siege of Veracruz from March 9-29, 1847. Other victories followed en route to the City of Mexico. On August 20, 1847, the troops of General Scott beat the Mexicans in three pitched battles, and on September 14, 1847 he entered the city with his army. The Mexican American War continued with a few minor battles but the Mexican American War had been won by the United States and their victory sealed in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo on March 10, 1848.

Mexican American War Timeline and Facts for kids
The Mexican American War Facts and Timeline for kids is detailed below. The history of the Mexican American War is told in a factual timeline sequence consisting of a series of short facts providing a simple method of relating the famous people and events surrounding the Mexican American War. 

1821: The Mexicans won their independence from Spain and founded the Mexican Republic. Immigrants from the US settled in Texas and Alta California

April 6, 1830: The Mexican government bans US immigration

October 2, 1835: The Texas Revolution began and on March 2, 1835 Texas declares independence from Mexico

March 3, 1837: United States recognizes the Republic of Texas

March 4, 1845: James Polk becomes US President. His goal is American territorial expansion to the Pacific coast

1845: John O’Sullivan initiates the phrase 'Manifest Destiny'

1845: President James Polk offers to purchase the lands but the Mexican government refuses to sell the land at any price

December 29, 1845:  President Polk signs the Joint Resolution admitting Texas as a  state - refer to Texas Annexation.

Mexico refuses to acknowledge the independence of Texas and its admission to the United States. Disputes arose regarding the southern boundary of Texas

U.S. forces invade Mexican territory on two main fronts. U.S. cavalry under Stephen W. Kearny invades western Mexico, reinforced by a Pacific fleet under John D. Sloat. Zachary Taylor and John E. Wool invade the south of Mexico as far as Monterrey

May 8, 1846: U.S. troops defeat the Mexicans at the Battle of Palo Alto, the first official battle of the war

The Battle of Resaca de la Palma when Mexican troops attack Fort Texas

May 13, 1846: Congress declares war on Mexico

June 14, 1846: The start of the Bear Flag Revolt and the California Republic launched by American settlers (the Bear Flaggers) against Mexico in the Mexican territory of Alta California. The Bear Flag Revolt lasts 25 days

June 14, 1846: William B. Ide is made the first, and only, President of the California Republic for 25 days

June 23, 1846: John C. Fremont arrives in California with 60 American soldiers

July 7, 1846: John D. Sloat leads the US navy to victory at the Battle of Monterey and issues a proclamation announcing that California was now part of the United States.

July 9, 1846: William B. Ide and the other "Bear Flaggers" joined John C. Fremont and the U.S. armed forces in taking possession of California from Mexico.

July 9, 1846: The Bear Flag revolt ends due to the California Annexation by the United States.

August 8,1846: The amendment known as the Wilmot Proviso was introduced in the US Congress to the $2million appropriations Bill to finance the settlement of the Mexican American War

September 20, 1846: General Zachary Taylor captures the Mexican city of Monterrey. Between August-September 1846  U.S. volunteers assemble under General John E. Wool and join General Taylor and his troops

September 25, 1846: Stephen Kearny sets out for California on with a force of 300 men to assist in the conquest of California

September 22-30, 1846: Mexican Victory at the Siege of Los Angeles

September - December 1846: Mexican victories at the Battle of Chino, the Battle of Dominguez Rancho and the Battle of San Pasqual

December 1846: Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna returns from exile in Cuba, stages a coup against the government and declares himself the new President of Mexico

January 10, 1847: Stephen Kearny's dragoons, Robert Stockton's marines, and two companies of John Fremont's California Battalion win the battles of San Gabriel and the La Mesa and retake control of Los Angeles

February 23, 1847: The U.S. under General Zachary Taylor wins the Battle of Buena Vista against General Santa Anna

March 9-29, 1847: American victory at the Siege of Veracruz

April 17-18, 1847: The U.S. wins the Battle of Cerro Gordo under the leadership of General Winfield Scott

July 1847: U.S. diplomat Nicholas Trist is unsuccessful at reaching an agreement with Santa Anna and the war continues

August-September 1846: U.S. volunteers assemble under General John E. Wool and join General Taylor and his troops.

September 13-15, 1847: American victory at the Siege of Los Angeles

September 14, 1847: The U.S. under General Scott wins the Battle of Mexico City.

January 13, 1848: The Californio forces in California capitulated to John C. Fremont and his California Battalion.

January 13, 1848: The informal Treaty of Cahuenga ended the fighting of the Mexican–American War in Alta California

January 24, 1848: The California Gold Rush started with the discovery of gold by James W. Marshall at Sutter's Lumber Mill in Coloma

February 2, 1848: Mexico formally ceded  territories to the United States under the terms of the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo

March 10, 1848: The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, is ratified by the U.S. Senate on March 10th

May 25th, 1848: The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo  is ratified by the Mexican Congress on May 25th

US American History
1841-1850: Westward Expansion

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