Assignment: The purpose of this assignment is for students to write an argumentative (also called persuasive) essay in response to the historical question below:
The issues surrounding the Mexican-American War (1846-1848) are still contested and debated. These issues include diplomatic intrigue, possible deliberate provocation, and long simmering border disputes. Texas was admitted as a state in 1845 and critics of President Polk argue he deliberately initiated the war because he wanted Mexico to sell or give up much of their northern territory to the U.S. (which eventually occurred, after surrender, for $15 million). He may have been a scheming politician obsessed with manifest destiny or an astute economic executive who saw in the western territory many possibilities to strengthen and expand the U.S. either way, it would mean antagonizing a newly independent (from Spain in 1821) neighboring country, Mexico, already economically and militarily weakened.
Question: Was the U.S. war with Mexico inevitable?
Some questions you might ask yourself: Why was President Polk doing things in secret? Having just acquired Texas as a state the year before, what part did the idea of manifest destiny play in U.S. negotiations with the Mexican government? What part did nationalism and propaganda in the U.S. play? What was going on in Mexico at the time?
Read Thomas Chávez, New Mexico: Past and Future, pgs. 111-117
Read pgs. 315-316 Pursuing War with Mexico AND Document Project, pgs. 319-325, Claiming Texas, with several primary source documents in the PDF in the assignment box AND
U.S. Grant, Ulysses S. Grant Recalls the Mexican War, Personal Memoirs, 1885-1886, http://www.bartleby.com/1011/12.html AND
Mexican Views of the Mexican-American War (1850) http://college.cengage.com/history/world/bulliet/earth_peoples/2e/students/primary/mexicanwar.htm
Remember, you are answering if you think the Mexican-American War was inevitable be sure to consider what was going on in Mexico at the time.
You must use and correctly cite at least 3 sources in your essay. You may use 2 of the readings above if you wish, but you must find a 3rd relevant source yourself, for a total of at least 3 sources.
NO Wikipedia there are plenty of college level scholarly sources you can use (hint: look for .edu or .org for mostly reliable sources. If you are unsure, check with me first through the outline assignment.) No encyclopedias, opinion, or cultural website. Legitimate historical websites set up by states are usually a safe bet.
In response to the question above you must form an answer that provides a judgment this is your argument. This is subjective (personal to you) so there is no wrong answer but your essay must also include an opposing viewpoint (a counter argument) and a strong conclusion reaffirming your argument. Use the outline for Essay #3 as your guideline.
In your essay, based on the historical question, include the following:
o Explain how individuals, groups, or countries experienced history differently.
o Analyze why the individuals, groups, or countries acted as they did.
o Explain how individuals, groups, or countries involved relate to the larger scope of history – did they set the stage for future historical events or were they responding to events already in motion?
o Relate the essay question to previous and future historical events or times think about how this debate was relayed to the public and if either side made use of the debate as propaganda
Include and expand the following in the essay:
What argument do you want to make in response to the assignment question: Was the U.S. war with Mexico
My argument in regards to the assignment question is yes, I think that ultimately the US war with Mexico was
What are three or four reasons you can think of to support your argument?
The U.S. and Mexico could not come to an agreement after endless failed negotiations.
The U.S. was not going to give Texas up, and Mexico was not going to accept the loss of Texas.
With the propaganda and rhetoric going on at the time, If Mexico were to not fight they would be viewed as
What objections or opposing viewpoints have you identified in response to your argument?
One objection or opposing viewpoint Ive identified to help support my response is the argument that The US and
Mexico could have simply just come to a compromise instead of starting a war.
How will you answer these objections or opposing viewpoints and what evidence will you provide to counter
I will answer these objections with the fact that neither Mexico or the US could come to a negotiation or mutual
agreement without feeling like one side is compromising or leaving with the short end of the stick