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Welcome to our site. We hope you’ll sign up to follow our blog, and click to share with your friends and followers on Facebook and Twitter. You can learn more details about the book Abraham Lincoln and Mexico by clicking the link for the title to see international acclaim from historians and authors, and where you can “look inside” the Kindle version on Amazon. Thanks.PORTADA Abraham Lincoln and Mexico

Honoring African-American Soldiers During Black History Month

usct_7

Photo courtesy of Library of Congress

Celebrating Black History Month is a great opportunity to honor African-American soldiers who served in wartime. One group that is sometimes overlooked is the original US Colored Troops formed during the Civil War, where they were an important part of success by Union Troops.

Some historians have written about African-American soldiers during the Civil War, notably William A. Dobak in “Freedom by the Sword.” Historian and educator Michael Hogan is one of the few to document the role of the USCT in helping exiled Mexican President Benito Juárez end French occupation of North America. His research of archival documents resulted in a chapter in his book “Abraham Lincoln and Mexico” about USCT troops fighting alongside Mexican troops.

Several key online sources contain more facts about African-American soldiers in the 1860s.

The website for the U.S. Army Center of Military History summarizes the origin and history of the USCT: “With the enactment of the Emancipation Proclamation on 1 January 1863, Lincoln not only declared most of the slaves in the Confederacy free, but he also authorized the use of black men as soldiers ‘to garrison forts, positions, stations, and other places.’

The official military history site also states that “Nearly 180,000 black soldiers served in the USCT, comprising about 10 percent of the Union Army’s manpower total.” During the war, these black troops played key roles in several battles, 25 received the Congressional Medal of Honor for their bravery and sacrifice, and several had command roles. According to the website, Sgt. Maj. Lewis Douglass of the 54th Massachusetts was a son of the abolitionist Frederick Douglass. You can read more at https://history.army.mil/news/2015/150200a_bHistory.html

The University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley recognizes the contributions of the USCT along the Texas border: “By May 1865, nearly 16,000 USCT veterans of the 25th Corps arrived at Brazos … where they were assigned to prevent former Confederates from establishing their defeated government and army in Mexico.” You can listen to a 90-second audio history clip at http://www.utrgv.edu/civilwar-trail/civil-war-trail/colored-troops/index.htm

As the Civil War was ending, as documented in Dr. Hogan’s book, many of these black troops joined forces inside Mexico to help fight French occupation forces. “After the war the USCT was disbanded. However, many of these demobilized black freemen, finding little work at home and much prejudice, joined the Americans fighting in Mexico as part of the American Legion of Honor recruited in late 1865 and early 1866.  They saw action in the last battles of the Franco-Mexican War including the battle of Zacatecas, the final siege at Querétaro, and triumphal march to Mexico City.”

Mexico honors the contribution of these troops, and the African-Americans soldiers among them, in Mexico City.

“There is a gravesite in Mexico City where those who fell in this conflict are interred,” Dr. Hogan states. “Many, however, survived and went on to settle in Mexico and have families; others returned to the United States and served in the military or returned to civilian life. They had, in the vernacular of the day, ‘seen the elephant’.”

His book about Lincoln’s legacy of support for Mexico is in the Lincoln Presidential Library and in private university libraries from Harvard and West Point to public university systems in Texas, Arizona, and California. His research documents that the American Legion of Honor had approximately 3,500 men who served in Mexico from 1865 through the final siege of Mexico in 1867. Additional history he has discovered about the Legion of Honor in Mexico, including its African-American members, is the subject of a forthcoming book.

Even more history about the USCT is available on the website for the Civil War Trust at https://www.civilwar.org/learn/articles/united-states-colored-troops

 

 

 

 

 

Historians, educators, and more guide LAMP efforts

Photos (l-r): Robert DiYanni, New York City; Janet Heinze, Guadalajara, MX; Gen. Clever Chavez Marin, Zapopan, MX; Heribert von Feilitzsch, Washington DC area; author Michael Hogan with Emb. Carlos Gonzalez-Magallon, Lake Chapala

The Lincoln and Mexico Project (LAMP) is honored that many people have become members of its international Advisory Council, and we look forward to more members in 2018.

The primary purpose of the Advisory Council is to guide our efforts to inform people about historical connections between the USA and Mexico as a way to improve future relationships. We also hope that classroom discussions about US-Mexican relations will lead to a generation of young people with more informed and productive perspectives about both nations. 

Outreach efforts began in January 2016 with historians and educators vetting the manuscript by historian and educator Michael Hogan for Abraham Lincoln and Mexico: A History of Courage, Intrigue and Unlikely Friendships. The manuscript had its origins in a 2012-2013 Advanced Placement US History (APUSH) course Dr. Hogan taught at the American School Foundation of Guadalajara, where students wanted to learn more than what was in the textbooks.

Now, the resulting book is in university libraries across the USA including Harvard, MIT, West Point, Brown, University of Texas, University of Arizona, UC-San Diego, the California State University system, and the University of San Diego, as well as public libraries from New York City to Los Angeles. It’s also in the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library, was nominated for the prestigious William M. LeoGrande Prize for best book about US-Latin American relations, and every member of the US Senate has received a complimentary copy.

Enthusiastic audiences have attended multiple presentations about the book in Guadalajara, Chihuahua, El Paso, Austin, Los Angeles, and Chicago. And the book inspired a three-act play that wowed audiences in Mexico where it premiered. All of this—the book, the presentations, and the play—forms the foundation for expanded outreach efforts this year, including classroom discussions about Lincoln’s legacy of support for Mexico.

We’re identifying and contacting potential Advisory Council members every week to guide our outreach efforts. The people we’re inviting to join represent a mix of educators, historians, Mexican consulate officials, history activists, students, and digital learning proponents—all of whom have read Dr. Hogan’s book and support the LAMP goals.

If you, or someone you know, are interested in joining the Advisory Council just send a note to lamp@lincolnandmexicoproject.org and we’ll follow up.  We’ll update the names as people commit, and profile new members a few at a time in the newsletter throughout the year. Here’s the initial list, some of whom the LAMP blog profiled last year:

  1. Ronald Barnett, Ph.D. historian and former professor, Jocotopec, MX
  2. Gen. Clever Chavez Marin, historian and Mexican military expert, Zapopan, MX
  3. Noor Chehabeddine, Advanced Placement US History (APUSH) student, American School Foundation of Guadalajara (ASFG), Guadalajara, MX
  4. Sylvia N. Contreras, businesswoman, history activist, and LAMP PR representative, Long Beach, CA
  5. Robert DiYanni, Ph.D. Professor, and instructional consultant, Center for the Advancement of Teaching at NYU, New York City
  6. Heribert von Feilitzsch, historian, author, and business executive, Washington DC area
  7. Emb. Carlos Gonzalez-Magallon, retired Mexican foreign service official, Lake Chapala, MX
  8. Jorge Haynes, retired California State University administrator, Austin, TX
  9. Janet Heinze, international education consultant, Guadalajara, MX
  10. Cindy A. Medina Gallardo, history activist, genealogist, and LAMP senior PR representative, Austin, TX
  11. Luciana Mendez, computer sciences student at DePaul University, Chicago, IL
  12. Liam O’Hara, high school Social Studies Department Head, ASFG, Guadalajara, MX
  13. Stacy Ohrt-Billingslea, Theatre Director, ASFG, Guadalajara, MX
  14. Brenda Prado, APUSH student, ASFG, Guadalajara, MX
  15. Mark Sconce, author and retired businessman, Baja California, MX
  16. Jason Silverman, Ph.D. retired university history professor, Rock Hill, SC
  17. Philip Stover, historian and retired deputy superintendent of San Diego Unified School System, Chihuahua, MX
  18. Isaias Torres, APUSH teacher, ASFG, Guadalajara, MX

The Lincoln and Mexico Project has volunteer coordinators in Guadalajara, San Diego, Los Angeles, Austin, and Chicago. This year, we’re planning to expand to Washington DC, New York City, and Boston. If you’re interested in helping arrange events, and perhaps speak on behalf of LAMP, just let us know. Meanwhile, you can click here to follow our Facebook page where posts often reach more than 10,000 people on five continents.

Best regards, and thanks for your interest and support as we expand in 2018.

How a US Republican President and a Mexican Youth Ended a French Monarchy in North America

Photos: President Abraham Lincoln and Mexican Envoy Matìas Romero

Article reprinted by permission from Alterinfos America Latina (http://www.alterinfos.org/spip.php?article7761)

By Michael Hogan

On April 10, 1863, Maximilian I and his wife Charlotte were installed as Emperor and Empress of Mexico. They came to power at the behest of the Napoleon III who had first sent armed forces to collect on past-due Mexican debts, but then encouraged them to stay and finally to conquer the country. At that time the French Army was the most powerful in the world. Although Mexico provided stout resistance, including an underdog victory at Puebla (Cinco de Mayo), its army was finally overwhelmed by the French who were reinforced by Austrian cavalry and artillery. The constitutional president Benito Juarez fled to the border town of El Paso del Norte to work in a cigarette factory and to put together a government-in-exile.

In May of 1863, he asked his protégé twenty-four year old Matias Romero to go to Washington and meet with President Lincoln to see if he could persuade him to help him raise a new army to fight against the French. Lincoln, of course, had his hands full. May 1-3 was the bloody battle of Chancellorsville. May 19-22 saw the Union troops engaged with the Rebels at Vicksburg, followed in early July by the devastating battle of Gettysburg. The enemy was nearly at Potomac. The timing could not have been worse.

Romero was unable to get an interview with the President, although he did have the opportunity to offer Mrs. Lincoln his rented carriage and accompany her shopping, a trip that lasted more than three hours! It was likely to due to her intercession that he was finally able to present his credentials to her husband as “Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary of Mexico.”

As high-sounding as the title was, it was also essentially meaningless. He had no real diplomatic standing since his “government” was in exile. Although Lincoln was sympathetic, his hands were tied. He dared not antagonize the French for fear their army would join the Confederacy which could very well prove an unbeatable combination and defeat the Union forces. Nevertheless, perhaps because of Mary Todd ‘s intervention, Lincoln gave Romero an audience and recognized his standing as ambassador, giving him not only access to the Oval Office but introductions to members of his cabinet, and ultimately to Ulysses S. Grant and Philip Sheridan, generals who would become Romero’s stanch allies in the years ahead. Using a note which Lincoln wrote expressing his friendship to the Mexican people, Romero visited bankers in New York, Boston, Philadelphia, and San Francisco to raise money to support an army to overthrow Maximilian and the French usurpers. Over the next two years he and agents had sold over $30 million in Mexican bonds raising a total of $18 million in cash and credits. The money would go a long way in buying supplies and paying troops. But to defeat the most powerful European army they would need something more: they would need rifles and cannons.

Secretary of State Seward objected strongly to giving military aid to the Mexicans. He felt that this would needlessly antagonize the French and bring them closer to an alliance with the Confederates. Meanwhile, young Romero went out of his way to convince other members of the cabinet, as well as Grant and Sheridan, that such aid was essential and that France would rush into the breach as soon as it saw the Union exhausted by the efforts to defeat the Confederacy. Could the US really afford another war? Moreover what France was doing was in violation of the Monroe Doctrine which showed France’s contempt for American policies in the hemisphere. As the Civil War drew to a close, Lincoln decided to placate his Secretary of State by insuring him that no overt military aid would be given to Mexico. At the same time he ignored reports of Mexican agents to purchasing rifled cannon, and allowed Romero to meet with influential businessmen in San Francisco, Philadelphia, and other locations to form Monroe Doctrine Clubs to raise funds, purchase munitions and even levy volunteers.

By the time of the surrender at Appomattox Court House on April 10, 1865, most of those movements were far advanced. In addition, Grant was ordered to send Sheridan with 50,000 soldiers to Texas to both prevent shipment of Southern cotton to Europe and also to cut off the supply lines to the French. Once there, he instructed Sheridan to “lose” 30,000 repeating rifles at the El Paso border.

Although Lincoln was assassinated the following month, Grant and Sheridan continued to carry out his wishes. Both generals encouraged soldiers upon their discharge from the Union Army to join an American Legion of Honor which would form part of the Mexican army and defeat the French at Querétaro in the spring of 1867. On July21st of that year the Mexican Republic was restored.

The legacy of Lincoln is still honored in Mexico today with statues and other memorials. It is a hopeful reminder that our two countries have a history of cooperation and victory as well as one of animosity and conflict as we go forward with a new Republican administration in 2017.


~Michael Hogan is a historian and teacher. He lives in Guadalajara, Mexico. His most recent book is Abraham Lincoln and Mexico: A History of Courage, Intrigue and Unlikely Friendships.

 

Helping students learn about Abraham Lincoln’s support for Mexico

Photos: AP Capstone students in Guadalajara, Mexico, and statue of Lincoln in Mexico City. Photo of U.S. President Lyndon Johnson unveiling plaque for statue in Mexico City, courtesy of Life Magazine.

The U.S. education system recognizes Abraham Lincoln’s many domestic policy accomplishments, especially freeing slaves and saving the Union, and embeds them in the education curriculum. As a result, generations of U.S. citizens have revered Lincoln.

While most people recognize these chapters of Lincoln’s legacy, many have never heard or read about his pivotal role as an international statesman in supporting Mexico. Here are three examples that are often omitted or marginalized in history books:

1) As a freshman congressman, Lincoln risked his political future by accusing President Polk of misleading the Congress about reasons for initiating the Mexican-American War.

2) As president, he refused to recognize the puppet monarchy imposed on Mexico after the Imperial Army of Napoleon III attacked Mexico and forced elected President Benito Juárez to flee to exile just south of El Paso.

3) As the US Civil War was coming to an end, Lincoln and his generals Grant and Sheridan supplied arms and troops that helped Juárez reclaim the Mexican presidency after Lincoln’s death, thus ending French occupation of North America. Some of the troops were African-Americans whom the Emancipation Proclamation enabled to join the U.S. Army.

In Mexico, Lincoln is arguably one of the most revered U.S. presidents, as discussed in a feature article published in the Smithsonian magazine online. In fact, Mexico honors Lincoln with statues across the country, and Mexico warmly welcomed U.S. President Lyndon Johnson when he dedicated a plaque for the statue of Lincoln in Mexico City during his first visit to a foreign capital after becoming President. And in Mexico, students learn about the relationship and mutual respect between Lincoln and Juárez.

Informing educators, students, and the public in the USA about Lincoln’s support for Mexico is the primary purpose of the Lincoln and Mexico Project (LAMP) that’s based on the book Abraham Lincoln and Mexico. Authored by historian and educator Michael Hogan, the book can be found in the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and in several university libraries and public libraries. It has also been nominated for the prestigious William M. LeoGrande Prize as the best book on U.S.-Latin American relations.

The book focuses on Lincoln as an international statesman by using archival documents, many of which are in the 137-page appendix. The content adds another dimension to Lincoln’s legacy, and increases awareness and understanding of his efforts to befriend and support Mexico. Educators in universities, colleges, and high schools are beginning to use the book as supplemental classroom material because it’s a great way to facilitate classroom discussion of historic relationships between the two neighboring countries.

Now, the Lincoln and Mexico Project is reaching out to educators across the USA and offering them a package of classroom materials to evaluate. The package includes a complimentary copy of the award-winning eBook version of the printed book in the Lincoln presidential library, plus a complete set of lesson plans. If you’re interested in evaluating the materials without obligation, just send an email to lamp@lincolnandmexicoproject.org.

Abraham Lincoln and Mexico brings to light that which for too long has hidden in the shadows: The interest, integrity, and involvement of our sixteenth President in the struggles and victories of our southern neighbor,” states Philip Stover, former Deputy Superintendent, San Diego Unified School District, who has also written about Mexico.

LAMP is also expanding its international Advisory Council to help educators facilitate discussion of Lincoln’s support for Mexico. Please let us know if you would be interested in becoming a member. Thank you, and best regards.

Chicago LOVES “Abraham Lincoln and Mexico”

Wow! The three-day book tour Oct. 27-29 by historian and educator Michael Hogan was quite successful in introducing his book “Abraham Lincoln and Mexico” to Chicago. His presentations examined Lincoln’s opposition to the Mexican-American War as a member of Congress, and Lincoln’s role as president in helping Mexico end French occupation of North America.

The presentations also examined the role of Irish-Americans who helped Mexico during both wars, and how US businessmen helped Mexico with financing in the 1860s. Here’s a quick rundown of what happened during the book tour, along with more photos at the end of the blogpost.

At noon on Friday, Oct. 27, Dr. Hogan addressed the historic Union League Club of Chicago to discuss the book and answer questions. The event was hosted by the Civil War Roundtable, and many questions focused on how Lincoln used the Emancipation Proclamation to enable freed slaves to become soldiers in the Union Army and became known as the US Colored Troops. Many of these same troops later went to Mexico to help exiled President Benito Juárez overthrow the French monarchy of Maximilian. It was a fascinating discussion with the audience of civic leaders, business people, Lincoln history aficionados, and educators.

Later in the afternoon of Oct. 27, Daniel Weinberg and Bjorn Skaptason of the Abraham Lincoln Book Shop arranged a live interview with Dr. Hogan on the national Author’s Voice program. The program originated live from the book shop with Weinberg and Dr. Hogan discussing the history of US-Mexican relations before the war of 1846-48, why Lincoln as a freshman congressman opposed the war, and Lincoln’s role as president in helping Mexico although he was preoccupied with the Civil War. You can click here to see the complete archived video.

Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 28-29, Dr. Hogan was one of the featured authors at the Irish Book and Music Celebration hosted by the Irish-American Heritage Center. The IBAM audience was also quite interested in Dr. Hogan’s earlier book “The Irish Soldiers of Mexico” that chronicled the story of Irish-American soldiers leaving the US Army to fight alongside Mexican troops against the invading US troops. Mexico City has a monument honoring the San Patricios, most of whom were captured and hanged as traitors by victorious US troops during the conquest of Mexico.

Many IBAM audience members were also interested to learn more about Lincoln’s support for Juárez in exile, and the role of Irish-American Gen. Philip Sheridan in helping Mexico. Sheridan commanded 50,000 US troops (including 4,000 USCT soldiers) sent to the Texas border to prevent French troops from entering the US and aiding the Confederacy. And he also gave critical military aid to troops loyal to Juárez. Part of that aid included 30,000 new repeating rifles “lost” at the US-Mexican border so Mexican troops could “find” them.

The Chicago events were part of outreach activities by the Lincoln and Mexico Project (LAMP) to inform and educate people about facts overlooked or ignored in other books about US History. Audience members at the Union League Club and the IBAM event bought many copies, and you can click here to order one of the special autographed books directly from the Abraham Lincoln Book Shop.

We really appreciate the help of the many supporters in Chicago who made the October events a great success, especially Chris Lynch, Tom Boyle, and Jimmy Sloan for their hospitality and assistance. Thanks also to Brian Daley of the Union League Club, Cliff Carlson on the Irish American News for their sponsorship, and Luciana Mendez of DePaul University for onsite sales at the IBAM event.

LAMP is an international project, with volunteer representatives in Guadalajara, San Diego, Los Angeles, Austin, and Chicago, and we’re expanding to Washington DC, New York City, and Boston. If you’re interested in helping LAMP in your area, just send an email to lamp@lincolnandmexicoproject.org. Come join us!

Chicago events boost LAMP outreach

 

Three special Chicago events October 27-29 will feature presentations by internationally-respected historian and educator Michael Hogan discussing US relationships with Mexico during the 1840s-1860s.

 

Two presentations focus on Abraham Lincoln’s opposition to the Mexican-American War as a freshman congressman and President Lincoln’s role as an international statesman in helping exiled Mexican President Benito Juárez although Lincoln was preoccupied with the Civil War. The third presentation examines the role of Irish soldiers who left the US Army to join Mexican troops in fighting against US invasionary troops.

 

The first event is a luncheon and discussion Friday October 27 hosted by the Civil War Roundtable, which will focus on Hogan’s latest book Abraham Lincoln and Mexico. The presentation will examine at length how President Lincoln helped Mexico, partly due to concerns that French occupation forces in Mexico might join forces with Confederate troops against the Union. The diplomacy and subsequent military aid helped the Mexican Republican Army overthrow the French Imperial Army of Napoleon III and restore Juárez to the presidency, ending French presence in North America. The private event is from 11:30 am to 1 pm, at the prestigious Union League Club of Chicago, which can trace its roots back to 1862 when businessmen and professional citizens banded together to help preserve the Union.

 

Later that same afternoon, Hogan will appear live from 5-6 pm on the national Author’s Voice program during an interview with host Daniel Weinberg to discuss Lincoln’s legacy of support for Mexico. Here’s the link to see details of the event, which will include on-air sales of autographed copies of the book. The event will originate at the Abraham Lincoln Book Shop, 824 W. Superior St., Suite 100, and is open to the public. If you can’t make it, you can watch the interview live by going to http://authorsvoice.net/our-programs/

 

On Saturday and Sunday, October 28-29, Hogan will be at the special Irish Books and Music event. During the two days, he’ll have press availabilities and sign copies of his best-selling book The Irish Soldiers of Mexico based on the history of Irish soldiers who helped Mexico. The history, honored at ceremonies in Mexico City, formed the basis for an MGM film starring Tom Berenger. The two-day event is at the Irish American Heritage Center, 4626 North Knox Avenue. You can get further information from the website at www.ibamchicago.com, or by calling 312-282-7035.

 

All three events come from outreach efforts of the Lincoln and Mexico Project (LAMP), an international project to inform and educate people about Abraham Lincoln’s support for Mexico. We have volunteer representatives in Guadalajara, San Diego, Los Angeles, Austin, and Chicago, and are expanding to Washington DC, New York City, and Boston. If you’re interested in joining our volunteer project and helping arrange events, please send an email to lamp@lincolnandmexicoproject.org

 

Thanks, and best regards.

Lincoln and Mexico Lesson Plans Available

Great news! Comprehensive lesson plans about Abraham Lincoln’s legacy of support for Mexico are now available for high school and colleges. They’re based on the authoritative book Abraham Lincoln and Mexico and the three-act play Lincoln and Mexico: The Untold Story. Both are written by historian and educator Michael Hogan.

The lesson plans help educators guide classroom discussions of Lincoln’s opposition as Congressman to the Mexican-American War and his later support as President to help Mexico defeat French occupation forces. If you know a high school or college that might be interested, just contact us and we’ll follow up. The email address is lamp@lincolnandmexicoproject.org.

This is a major milestone in efforts to help educators and students get access to factual information missing from current textbooks,” said Hogan. “The lesson plans facilitate classroom discussion, and include student worksheets to distill and capture what students learn. It’s a great way to gain new perspectives about historic relations between Mexico and the USA.”

The book focuses on Lincoln as an international statesman by using archival documents, many of which are in the 137-page appendix. It’s in the Lincoln presidential library and in several university libraries and public libraries. It’s also has been nominated for the prestigious William M. LeoGrande Prize as the best book on U.S.-Latin American relations, and the Smithsonian magazine online published a feature article about the book. The play, developed for students and community theatres, received enthusiastic responses by audiences at several performances this spring.

In both the USA and Mexico, educators are beginning to use the book as supplemental classroom material. At the California State University-Channel Islands Campus, the book will be part of the HIST 270 course this fall. In Arizona, the Academy of Tucson High School plans use the book and lesson plans in its curriculum this fall. And at the American School Foundation of Guadalajara, where Hogan is Emeritus Humanities Chair, the book and lesson plans will be part of the History curriculum. In fact, the book was inspired by AP US History students at the school during the 2012-2013 academic year because they wanted to learn more than what was in textbooks.

During the coming months, the Lincoln and Mexico Project (LAMP) will reach out to colleges and high schools to offer a package of the book and the play and the lesson plans for the 2018 academic year. Meanwhile, here’s a sample from the first few pages of the lesson plans.

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LINCOLN AND MEXICO LESSON PLANS

For use with the text Lincoln and Mexico: A History of Courage, Intrigue and Unlikely Friendships, and with Lincoln and Mexico: The Untold Story, a play in three acts. Both by Michael Hogan.

Note: All items in this packet are protected by US and international copyright agreements. Copyright ©2016, 2017 by Michael Hogan. Portions may be copied and used for teaching purposes as long as the author is properly credited.

Contents

  1. Lincoln’s “Spot Resolutions” objecting to the Declaration of War with Mexico.
  2. Honest Abe or a typical politician?
  3. The Agreement of Velasco, and the Texas border.
  4. The Emancipation Proclamation and the United States Colored Troops (USCT).
  5. Why Lincoln Supported Mexico Against the French.
  6. Nineteenth Century Networking.
  7. Undermining the Great Man Theory of History.
  8. Forgotten Heroes: The blank pages of history.

1. LINCOLN’S “SPOT RESOLUTIONS” OBJECTING TO THE DECLARATION OF WAR WITH MEXICO.

Central Historical Question: “What was the basis for Lincoln’s objection to Polk’s decision asking Congress to declare that a state of war existed between Mexico and the US?”

Background: The Mexican War (1846-48) was the largest land acquisition in North America since the Louisiana Purchase. From it, the US added the states of California, Nevada, New Mexico, Arizona, and parts of Kansas, Utah, and Wyoming. Yet, it is barely mentioned in US history books. Sometimes it is simply known as the “Mexican Cession,” as if Mexico government simply granted the US all of its northern territories in that geographical area. Other times it is referred to as a “border dispute.” However, in Mexico (and elsewhere in non-US histories) it is known as the American Invasion of Mexico or the War of Intervention.

            It all began when President James K. Polk decided to purchase California from Mexico and a land route across what is now New Mexico. He offered the Mexican government $25 million for the former and another $5 million for the latter. The Mexican congress refused to sell. Polk sent a negotiator to the Mexican capital. The government refused to meet with him. Annoyed, Polk ordered General Zachary Taylor and a large army contingent to Corpus Christi in Texas, the border with Mexico at the time on the Rio Nueces, to pressure the Mexican government into making the deal. When that did not work, he ordered Taylor south to the Rio Grande that was then part of Mexico, and Taylor’s troops began building a fort in January 1846 at what is now Brownsville. In April of 1846, one of Taylor’s patrols encountered a troop of Mexican cavalry along the Rio Grande. In the brief skirmish that ensued, eleven American soldiers were killed.

            Polk then went to Congress and said that since “American blood was shed on American soil,” a state of war now existed between Mexico and the United States. He asked Congress for money and men to carry on the war. Congress approved on May 13, since the hostilities had already commenced.

            Abraham Lincoln was elected to Congress that year. However, he did not take his seat until late 1847. On December 22 of that year, he questioned President Polk’s decision to wage war in a series of “Spot Resolutions.” He felt the war was unconstitutional, an abuse of presidential power, and based on false information. Many agreed with him including former president John Quincy Adams, Ulysses S. Grant, and Henry David Thoreau who wrote his famous essay “Civil Disobedience” on the subject and refused to pay his taxes in protest.

Assignment: This is a two-day lesson. Day 1. The students will read Polk’s Declaration of War and Lincoln’s Spot Resolutions and will take notes on the worksheet provided. Day 2. The teacher will lead a discussion among the students based on their comments on the worksheet.

Student Worksheet                             Name:

Central Historical Question: In your own words state the six arguments or rhetorical questions that Lincoln advanced in his Spot Resolutions.

#1. Argument summary

 

 

 

#2. Argument summary

 

 

 

 

 

 

#3. Argument summary

 

 

 

 

 

 

#4. Argument summary.

 

 

 

#5.  Argument summary

 

 

#6.  State which two arguments are the most persuasive and why.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#7. Do you think that Lincoln was right, or was Polk justified in seeking a declaration of war? Explain.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Primary documents:

Map of the region between the Rio Nueces and the Rio Grande.

Two documents from the Appendix of Michael Hogan’s Abraham Lincoln and Mexico: A History of Courage, Intrigue and Unlikely Friendships. San Diego: Egret Books, 2016.

·         Document #3 Polk’s War Message to Congress. May 11, 1846. pp. 189-197.

·         Document #6 Lincoln’s Spot Resolutions, Dec. 22, 1847. pp. 255-257.

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The book Abraham Lincoln and Mexico: A History of Courage, Intrigue and Unlikely Friendships is in the Lincoln presidential library, university libraries, and public libraries. “This book is a must-read for any student of US-Mexico relations.” Jay Lacroix, Harvard Law School.

Educators with existing accounts at the Ingram Content Group can order discounted print copies of the book (EAN 9780985774493) by going to https://ipage.ingramcontent.com/. To create a new account, go to https://getstarted.ingramcontent.com/. You can also call Ingram by phone at 800-937-8200 and select option 4 to talk with a customer representative for help, or send email to newaccounts@ingramcontent.com.  

Print and eBook versions are also available online from Barnes&Noble and from Amazon. The Spanish version is available from Amazon.us http://amzn.to/2n7minY and Amazon.mx http://amzn.to/2s3dqRS.