International acclaim from historians and authors

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Visit to Goliad


Photos by Robin Alaniz from Feb. 29 presentation by historian/ author Michael Hogan in Goliad, Texas

Michael Hogan, the author of Abraham Lincoln and Mexico, was recently invited to speak in Texas following an editorial he wrote for the Dallas Morning News after the El Paso massacre of Mexicans and Mexican Americans at a Walmart. Dr. Hogan suggested in the editorial that anti-immigrant rhetoric and even violence might be prevented in the future if our children knew more about the history of the Americas.

The editorial received a mostly positive response from many Texans, and one group invited him to speak at the Goliad Historical Society. The topic was “How the Study of History Can Promote Unity in a Multicultural Nation.”

It was an unusual place to speak of the unifying power of history.

Some readers, especially those from Texas, might recall that Goliad was the place where the Mexican general Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna executed 417 Texas soldiers after they surrendered. It is still considered a war crime in Texas today, much more brutal than the Alamo. Knowing that this was the dominant narrative in the area was challenging. However, Dr. Hogan pointed out that many of his forebears, Irish Americans, were among those who died at the hands of this cold-blooded general in 1836.

A short 11 years later, a direct ancestor of his, Roger Hogan, was hanged along with many of his countrymen by a brutal US general in San Ángel on the outskirts of Mexico City after being captured for fighting on the side of Mexico after the USA unjustly invaded that country to start the Mexican-American War. He and many of his compatriots were killed in what is now considered the largest hanging affair in North America. Others were whipped and branded in a display of ferocity never before witnessed by even objective observers. The true story is the basis for Dr. Hogan’s 1997 book The Irish Soldiers of Mexico.

History is complex, messy, and seldom sees any ethnic group with clean hands or any nationality blameless. History is full of such contradictions and nuances, and it is important in these divided times that we pause to address them. The answer is not more tribalism—whether Anglo Saxon, or Mexican Hispanic, or Irish Celtic—but a coming to understand the complexities of history.

The only way to do that is to be open, to listen, to read, and to understand the messiness of national and ethnic conflicts, and to comprehend the twists and turns of the rocky and tortuous road which might lead the next generation to build a better world.

Dr. Hogan fielded many questions after his talk, some supportive, some questioning and even critical. But the result was positive. People came together in a civil way in good faith to help build trust between the various ethnicities in the community.

Among those in attendance were news media representatives, educators that included the principal of a local high school, the fire chief, city councilmen, one mayoral candidate, notable academic historian and Texas scholar Dr. Robert Shook, and the director the Goliad Historical Society, Ernest Alaniz. They all shared a barbeque together, and the following day attended a Mass and then visited historical sites in the region.

One site was the childhood home of General Zaragoza, the hero of the battle of Cinco de Mayo in Puebla, Mexico—a reminder of another war when the US and Mexico came together to defeat the last empire in the Americas. This latter topic is the subject of Dr Hogan’s most recent book: Guns, Grit and Glory. It’s available on Amazon at https://amzn.to/2vGBuOj.


More Facts for Black History Month

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Company E, 4th US Colored Infantry, Washington, DC. Photo by William Morris Smith, courtesy of National Library of Congress.

During Black History Month in the USA, it’s a good time to look at how the Emancipation Proclamation allowed liberated slaves to serve in the Union Army.

Eventually, approximately 178,000 black soldiers served in the Civil War, most of them as part of the US Colored Troops (USCT). Some were free blacks, but most were liberated slaves. Twenty-five received the Congressional Medal of Honor – eighteen soldiers and seven sailors.

An overview and documented details are in the 2016 book Abraham Lincoln and Mexico by historian/ educator Michael Hogan. His research and writing to examine the impact of including black soldiers in the Union Army goes further than most historians and textbooks.

Starting with references from works by other historians, Hogan uses archival documents to follow USCT soldiers after the Civil War who became part of the American Legion of Honor recruited by Mexico in late 1865-1866 to help Mexico fight French troops that invaded Mexico in 1861 and installed a puppet monarchy.

Union veterans comprised the officer corps of the Legion, according to Hogan, but many of the rank and file were remnants of the USCT.

“The American Legion of Honor consisted of approximately 3,000 men who served in Mexico from late 1865 through the final siege of Mexico in 1867,” Hogan writes. “There is a gravesite in Mexico City where those who fell in this conflict are interred.”

The US forces in Mexico were relatively small compared to the overall Mexican Army, says Hogan.

“They usually accounted for about 500-1000 in forces of 4,000 or more,” he writes. “However, their cohesiveness, their battle experience, their outstanding leadership, and finally their superior firepower made them a fearsome force.”

Dr. Hogan’s book is in the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and in university libraries in the USA and foreign countries. It’s also available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Happy Birthday, President Lincoln!

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Photo courtesy of History.com

February is the month to honor all US presidents, and a good time to learn more about Abraham Lincoln around his birthday February 12.

In US social studies classes, most students are unaware that Lincoln was a strong supporter of Mexico, both before and during the US Civil War. Here are four facts:

  1. As a freshman member of Congress, Lincoln risked his political career by alleging that President Polk misled the Congress about going to war with Mexico in 1846.
  2. Before his inauguration as president, Lincoln offered his friendship to Mexico during a meeting in Springfield, Illinois, with Mexican ambassador Matías Romero, the first foreign envoy to meet with the president-elect.
  3. After French troops drove Mexican President Benito Juárez into exile, Lincoln and his cabinet maintained official neutrality with Mexico to keep France from supporting the Confederacy during the Civil War. However, Lincoln responded to Romero’s pleas for help, and authorized covert aid to Mexico.
  4. After Lincoln’s assassination, continuing US support enabled Mexico to defeat the French forces and end the last empire in North America.

Lincoln’s support for Mexico is detailed in the highly acclaimed book Abraham Lincoln and Mexico by historian/ educator Michael Hogan, which examines archival documents to look at Lincoln as an international statesman and not just an iconic American political figure. The print version is in the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and in college and university libraries in the USA and several foreign countries.

Educators in more than 400 schools across the USA already have copies of the eBook version, and many are using it to stimulate classroom discussions. If you know a teacher who might be interested in the book as supplemental classroom material, ask them to send an email request to lamp@lincolnandmexicoproject.org.

For the coming academic year, the Lincoln and Mexico Project is planning a pilot project to distribute free eBook copies to students in selected high schools. Look for details in a future blogpost.

You can learn more details about Lincoln’s support for Mexico by reading this previous LAMP blogpost.


Learning More About Lincoln


Educator/ historian Michael Hogan with middle school students in Guadalajara, Mexico

Many adults remember middle school years as a time of transition—socially, intellectually, emotionally, and physically. It’s also a time when young minds are quite curious and open to learning.

To stimulate classroom discussion about Abraham Lincoln around his birthday February 12, the Lincoln and Mexico Project (LAMP) is offering middle school educators a complimentary package of supplemental materials.

The materials include an eBook version of Abraham Lincoln and Mexico by educator / historian Michael Hogan that’s in the Lincoln Presidential Library and in more than 400 schools and colleges. The package also includes a three-act play based on the book, along with lesson plans.

Reaching out to middle school educators is part of the overall LAMP outreach to help students learn more about Lincoln, especially his legacy of support for Mexico. During December, Dr. Hogan was invited to speak to four middle school classes at the American School in Guadalajara, where he is Emeritus Humanities Chair, and found students were eager to learn more about Lincoln.

“When I was invited to teach a middle school class on Lincoln and Mexico, I was at first reluctant,” says Dr. Hogan. “Wouldn’t the material be over their heads? Even the high school principal gave me a wink when I told her of the invitation, and said, ‘Good luck with that! You have your work cut out for you.’ What I discovered, however, was that the kids were curious, receptive, and asked probing questions. It was as lively a class as I’ve taught—less self-conscious than many older students, and less cynical.”

Janet Layton Arribas, a middle school teacher in California, knows firsthand about teaching social studies to middle schoolers. She uses LAMP materials in her classroom, and she’s a member of the LAMP Advisory Council helping guide outreach to other educators.

“I believe it is essential to teach middle school students about Lincoln’s strong Mexican connection,” she says. “His opposition to the Mexican American War and his support of Juárez serve as a starting point to many important discussions about race, American exceptionalism, and the complicated historical relationship with our neighbor to the south. These topics remain pertinent today and we need to talk about them more to help us understand who we are as a nation and what kind of neighbor we can be to Mexico.”

President Lyndon Johnson, a former 5th grade teacher, citied his classroom experiences while signing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act on April 11, 1965.

“As a former teacher–and, I hope, a future one–I have great expectations of what this law will mean for all of our young people,” he said. “As President of the United States, I believe deeply no law I have signed or will ever sign means more to the future of America.” You can see the story on the blog of the National Archives.

Many other educators share the belief that these adolescent years are critical to success in high school and beyond. Phyllis Fagell, a certified professional school counselor, has worked in both public and private schools with students in grades K-12, focusing on middle school for the last several years.

“As educators, we need to preserve their natural inquisitiveness and willingness to take risks at an age when they’re feeling particularly scrutinized and judged and may be especially hesitant to go out on a limb,” she is quoted in a recent article on TeachHub.com about the importance of middle school.

Already this year, Dr. Hogan has received invitations from middle school educators in other schools. He can’t accept all the invitations, but materials from LAMP can help middle school educators take advantage of students’ curiosity and openness to learning. To request the free materials, just send an email to lamp@lincolnandmexicoproject.org.

Why History is Important

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Dr. Michael Hogan spoke to the National Honor Society December 9, 2019, at the American School Foundation of Guadalajara (ASFG) about the importance of studying history. Afterwards, he chatted with social studies faculty members Dr. Alondra Velasco, Director Mexican Studies (l), and Barbara Linden, Advanced Placement US History instructor. Here’s the full text of his speech.

During the last visit of the Pope to Mexico, the CNN reporter in Mexico City said, “And now the Pope is leaving this Central American capital to return to Rome.”

Central America. Mexico? Really? And this was a major TV news program.

A few weeks ago, when Evo Morales left Bolivia, the Guardian newspaper in the UK reported “…and so ends the career of the first indigenous president in Latin America.”

Really? The first? What about Benito Juárez?

Earlier this year, when Nicaraguans, El Salvadorans, and Hondurans were streaming in a caravan to the US, Bill O’Reilly on Fox news announced the “Mexican invasion of the United States.”

This would be considered ludicrous if the people responded to the announcement with scorn. But instead, months later, an 18-year-old from Dallas killed 22 people at an El Paso Wal-Mart in an attempt to stop what he called the Mexican invasion of his country.

Thus, he demonstrated not only an ignorance of history because the US invaded Mexico and seized much of its territory in 1848, but also an ignorance of demographics. Because once again, the migrant caravan he referred to was composed of Central Americans fleeing both gang violence and unsustainable climate change exacerbated by multinational corporations, and exploitation of natural resources such as water and arable land.

Much is spoken these days about the wealth gap, the 1 percent versus the rest of the folks. We also talk about the education gap, where fewer and fewer students have access to quality education.

Tonight, I would like to talk about the history gap, where fewer and fewer people understand or see the importance of history and how this lack of knowledge endangers us all.

The news has been full in recent years of the decline of history in universities throughout the Americas. Last year Dr. Benjamin Schmidt of Northeastern University published an article showing that for the past decade history has been declining as a major more rapidly than any other discipline over the past 10 years.

In Wisconsin, the state university closed the history department. Other universities reduced the number of history professors they employed. One student noted, “I love history, but my parents said, ´What kind of job are you going to get with that as a major?’”

But there is one place where the steep decline in history major has had no effect. There is one group of universities when the number of people studying history has in fact increased three-fold. Care to guess where? In the most prestigious colleges and universities. At Yale, Dartmouth, Harvard and Columbia. When I told an ASFG faculty member this, she replied, “Well of course. They don’t have to worry about getting a job.”

But the answer is more interesting than that. According to Dr. Alan Mikhail, the head of the history department at Yale, “Our students know that they will be the leaders in the future whether in politics, finance, industry or human development. The study of history is more than just dates and events. It includes the study of geography, of statistics, of demographics, of climate change, of law, and foreign relations. For that reason, some of our brightest STEM students take history courses, as do those in international business and marketing.”

History makes you feel that you are part of a continuum, you are part of generations that were here before you, you learn from their mistakes and failures, as well as their accomplishments and victories. You learn that you are not alone.

Fernando Rojas, a Mexican and the head of Yale’s Institute of Transnational Migration, has a degree in history. So does Prince Charles in the UK. So does Howard Stringer, former CEO of Sony Corporation. So does Chris Hughes, the co-founder of Facebook. It has also been the major of choice for leaders in government.

Among US presidents with history degrees were Woodrow Wilson, John F. Kennedy, and Dwight Eisenhower. Also, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, former prime minister of England Winston Churchill, three Supreme Court justices, and six Nobel Prize winners.

Dr. Mikhail, the history chairperson at Yale, went on to say, “The reason students at Yale can afford to study history is that they know they are smart enough, personable enough, and talented enough to get a good position. But they also know that the only way to get to the top of their profession and make positive changes is through something deeper than just a skill set—even a complex one like international finance, engineering, or medicine.”

They know the only way to understand the present is to embrace the messiness of politics, culture and economics. They know there are never easy answers to pressing questions about the world and public life, and they look to deepen their understanding. The study of history gives them that.

In 1942, Hitler gathered the best minds of his generation: the geneticists, the architects, the chemists, the surgeons, the psychologists, the statisticians. His goal was to create a brain trust to prepare the final solution—the destruction of the Jews. The geneticists did experiments with twins, the chemists created poison gas, the architects created concentration camps, the psychologists studied how much pain or extremes of temperature a person could tolerate before dying, the statisticians kept track of how many millions they killed.

Nowhere was there a historian. Hitler had eliminated that as a program of study in the schools back in the 1930s and was contemptuous of it, as are most autocratic leaders who want to be exceptions to the constitutional limits, and the common decencies which are necessary to produce a livable society.

John F. Kennedy once wrote: “Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.” For example, we are constantly told by posts on the Internet and on the news that the jobs of the future will all be in the STEM field. Science, technology, engineer and mathematics. And of all of these, engineering will be the most secure and lucrative.

Most of these posts and articles are written by people on the payroll of multinational corporations whose goal is to obtain cheap labor from professionals in the future. Give it some thought.

In 2016 China graduated 5.6 million students in STEM disciplines; 2.5 million were engineers. In India, they graduated 1.8 million STEM students and 800,000 were engineers. Sixty percent of them are unemployed today. Many are waiting to get visas to go to the US, where they will flood the market and lower the wages for engineers well into 2025, 2030, and beyond.

Now, some of the people who are telling us we need more engineers and more STEM students, and that a liberal arts degree is worthless, are good people. They have good intentions. But they are repeating when they read (an Opinion) without doing the research. And sadly, some are as oblivious to the real facts as those commentators who think Mexico is in Central America, or Benito Juárez never existed.

So, this is my challenge to you NHS members. My talented, bright, and motivated students: Remember history as you move through your educational options whether it is here at ASFG or later at a university.

Do not lose sight of your goal to make the most of your time on the planet, not just to develop a skill set, or earn money, or even follow your passion whatever that may be. But to truly add what you can to the good of the world and not, from lack of research, to inadvertently contribute to its decline.

Be ready to debunk the myths of the media when they tell you that the study of history is useless or when they pit one generation against the other or try to divide us by sexual identity.

For every Greta Thornburg at 16 there is a Jane Fonda at 81, and for every woman like Jane Fonda there is a man like Jimmy Carter. Those who do not see a multigenerational world are like birds in a cage, locked into a dreary present with no understanding of the past and no clear vision of the future.

People of all generations, colors, creeds, and sexual identity are truly working together to make this a better world. But it is in the interests of corporate oligarchs to keep us divided, as well as those hundreds, no thousands, of businesses and individuals who profit from conflicts: security firms, talk show hosts, arms manufacturers, media pundits, and soulless politicians.

As John F. Kennedy once said, “United there is little we cannot do in a host of cooperative ventures. Divided there is little we can do; for we dare not meet a powerful challenge at odds and split asunder.”

Thank you all for sharing the stage with me tonight. My warmest congratulations to you, to your parents, your teachers, and your grandparents who have supported you and encouraged you along the way. You are truly blessed. May you continue to pass those blessings on in your own histories and make the world a better place.

Un abrazo muy muy fuerte.

–Educator/ historian Michael Hogan is the author of more than 24 books including We Never Know How High We Are Till We Are Called to Rise, a collection of 15 inspirational talks he has given to NHS members. Available on Amazon at https://amzn.to/34UOXyu.


A Republican President Who Risked His Career to Support Mexico

The Dallas Morning News published a very good commentary August 25, 2019, by historian/educator Michael Hogan explaining why educators and students should discuss historical relations between the USA and Mexico. Here’s the full text:

At a time when much of border politics revolves around inflammatory rhetoric and divisive arguments, including talk of a “Hispanic invasion,” it would be useful to reflect on an earlier period of U.S.-Mexico relations and a Republican president who had a quite different view of that country and its people than today’s incumbent.

Few American students know that the 1846 invasion of Mexico by the U.S. deprived Mexico of almost half of its territory and resulted in the formation of several U.S. states, including California, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah and Nevada, as well as parts of Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Wyoming and Colorado. Few know that the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which officially ended the war in 1848, offered automatic citizenship to Mexicans in that captured territory, but the U.S. reneged on that provision.

When Abraham Lincoln was a first-term congressman from Illinois, he risked his political career by standing up in the House of Representatives and accusing President James Polk of invading Mexican territory without provocation and then misleading Congress to declare war on that country by claiming that “American blood was shed on American soil.” In his remarks, Lincoln presented several “spot resolutions” asserting that any blood shed was on Mexican soil, and that the U.S. was the aggressor.

It did not go down well with Polk and his supporters. Lincoln was accused of giving aid and support to the enemy. Newspapers referred to him as “spotty Lincoln.” Lincoln’s Whig party would lose its majority in the House in 1848, and he would be defeated for the Senate race a few years later.

Lincoln was not the only prominent person who objected to the U.S. invasion. General Ulysses S. Grant, who was an Army captain and participated in the invasion, called it the “most unjust war ever waged by a stronger nation against a weaker” and considered resigning his commission. Henry David Thoreau wrote his famous essay “On Civil Disobedience” and went to jail in Concord, Mass., for refusing to pay taxes that he felt would go to support the war in Mexico. Former President John Quincy Adams was also strongly opposed. But Lincoln risked the most, and persisted well after the rest fell silent, despite warnings from his law partner and members of his own party.

Fourteen years later, in 1861, shortly after his surprise election to the presidency as a compromise Republican candidate, Lincoln welcomed Matías Romero, the Mexican ambassador, to his home in Springfield, Ill. The 24-year-old Romero was the first foreign ambassador that Lincoln met and entertained before his inauguration on March 4. The personal note Lincoln gave to Romero offered “sincere wishes for the happiness, prosperity and liberty of yourself, your government and its people.” Dated Jan. 21, 1861, it is now on display in the Chicago History Museum.

In Washington D.C., the president and first lady became friends with Romero. After France invaded Mexico in 1863 and imposed the Archduke Maximilian on the throne, Lincoln covertly provided assistance to the exiled republican government of Benito Juárez. It was done secretly because Lincoln was afraid that if the French found out they might join forces with the Confederacy to defeat the Union. He and Mary Todd Lincoln introduced the young Romero (now an asylum seeker with no official status) to prominent bankers and investors so that he was able to raise over $14 million to arm and supply the Mexican Republican Army and defeat the French.

Lincoln and Juárez could not have been more different physically. Lincoln was 6 feet 4; Juárez 4 feet 6. One of Anglo-Scot stock, the other a Zapotec Indian. Yet they were both successful lawyers, both confirmed republicans, both committed to human rights, and both struggling to unite opposing forces within their countries. It is thanks to Lincoln that the U.S. is not a divided federation, and thanks to Juárez that Mexico is not a repressive monarchy.

There are statues of Lincoln in El Paso and Mexico City today, and he is the second most beloved U.S. president in Mexico. It is on his legacy that so many years of the “Good Neighbor Policy” pledged by Harry Truman during his 1948 visit to Mexico were based. During that visit to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of the war of with Mexico, Truman laid a wreath on the tomb of the Niños Heroes, the young cadets who gave their lives to protect that Mexican flag against the Yankee invaders. Their deaths marked a shameful episode which Lincoln acknowledged and sought to remedy, and one which Truman confirmed in his reconciliatory gesture.

A failure to teach the full and complex 19th century history of the U.S. and Mexico in U.S. classrooms has resulted in ignorance that helps feed anti-Mexico prejudice. Some textbooks today use terms such as “Westward Expansion,” which obscure how and why the U.S. used its military superiority to acquire nearly half of Mexico as a result of the war.

Most historians also gloss over Polk’s actions and how he misled Congress. The truth is in the Congressional Record and in battlefield journals, some of them stored in archives in both the U.S. and Mexico. To help educators and students learn from archival documents, the Lincoln and Mexico Project offers supplemental classroom materials including free lesson plans to interested teachers. In Texas, educators in 43 schools have received the materials for the coming academic year.

According to the College Board, each year about 500,000 students take the Advanced Placement U.S. history course. Recently, the board has approved teaching Lincoln “spot resolutions” as part of the course. Another 4 million 11th-graders are required to take some other form of U.S. history class each year.

Imagine the impact this next generation could have on the country if these students were to share this actual history, and what a fine model they would have of a Republican president who stood up for his neighbors in Mexico instead of castigating them, and who made amends for the expansionist exploits of the past.

In the final analysis, it is not facts that cause violence, but rhetoric based on ignorance. Much of the polarizing political words the president and others often use can be traced to a factually muddled 2012 blog post about the so-called Mexican invasion promoted by political commentator Pat Buchanan, who failed three times to win the Republican presidential nomination.

The fact is that the bulk of migration to our southern border today is people from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras fleeing gang violence, agricultural damage and economic exploitation by corporations dating back centuries. But it was likely inflammatory rhetoric and ignorance that inspired the Dallas-area shooter to target Mexican-Americans and Mexican citizens during back-to-school shopping in El Paso. Hopefully, we can stop incidents like that from re-occurring by taking steps today to see that our children know the facts of history.

Finally, the recent recognition by the Texas Board of Education that contributions of Mexican-Americans to the culture and the history of Texas need to be included in the curriculum is another important step that is long overdue. Children need to see their Latino neighbors as significant contributors to the culture and economy of this state and the nation. It is a modest beginning but an essential one that will change mere tolerance to abiding respect.

Michael Hogan is a former professor of international relations at the Universidad Autonoma de Guadalajara and emeritus humanities chair at the American School Foundation. His new book is Abraham Lincoln and Mexico. He wrote this column for The Dallas Morning News.

How the Mexican-American War Began

Texas-Mexico border 1846

Map courtesy of Wikicommons

History has many examples of one nation trying to impose its will on other countries. One example is the Mexican-American War where many historians often ignore or distort details of what led the US Congress to declare war against Mexico on May 13, 1846.

After his election in 1844, on a platform that included Texas statehood, President Polk was determined to acquire the ports of San Francisco and San Diego along with vast portions of Mexico from the Pacific Ocean to Texas. However, Mexico repeatedly refused his offer of $25 million to buy California.

Official maps at that time showed the Texas border between the US and Mexico was the Nueces River that emptied into the Gulf of Mexico at Corpus Christi. In January of 1846, President Polk ordered US troops at Corpus Christi to move more than 100 miles south to the Rio Grande river where they began building fortifications that became Fort Brown near what is now Brownsville. Polk and his Secretary of War William Marcy believed that Mexico would consider the troop movement and fortifications an invasion of its territory and would feel pressured to comply with the expansionist desires of the United States to avoid further military action.

Polk had drafted a declaration of war and he called his cabinet members together on Saturday, May 8, to consult with them. At the end of the meeting, he decided to send his war message to the Congress on Tuesday, May 11. But later that same evening, he received word that 52 US troops had engaged a Mexican cavalry unit after entering a Mexican ranch on the Rio Grande on April 25. Several Americans were killed and a few were wounded in the short skirmish that lasted until early the next day, and which became known as The Thornton Affair for the name of the commanding officer.

The president quickly revised his war message to include his view about the significance of the battle, and sent the message to Congress on Monday, May 10. It asserted that Mexico “…has invaded our territory and shed blood of Americans upon the American soil.” The House expedited a war resolution and approved it on May 13 with only 14 dissenting votes, and the Senate concurred in a 40-2 vote. The US and Mexico were officially at war.

Declaring war against Mexico divided the country, as evidenced in leading newspapers of the time. Walt Whitman editorialized in support of the war, and volunteers responded to advertisements and posters stating the US government was offering recruits generous pay and 160 acres of land.

Mexican War(1)

Some prominent political leaders, including John Quincy Adams, opposed the war. Anti-war organizations denounced the war, particularly after news of the seven-day US naval bombardment at Veracruz that killed hundreds of civilians. After that incident, Henry David Thoreau refused to pay taxes to support the war, went to jail, and later published his famous essay “On Civil Disobedience.”

As a first-term congressman opposed to the war, Abraham Lincoln researched and presented his famous “Spot Resolutions” in Congress in 1847 and risked his political career by accusing Polk of lying to Congress about the basis for declaring war. Several times he challenged Polk to show him the spot where American blood was shed, implying that it was on Mexican soil and that the US soldiers were invaders. However, by then, Mexico City had already fallen to US troops and all that remained was a formal surrender and signing the Treaty of Guadalupe in February 1848 that officially established a new border stretching from San Diego to the mouth of the Rio Grande.

Ulysses S. Grant, an Army captain in the invasion and subsequent occupation of Mexico, used his memoirs to call the Mexican-American War “the most unjust war ever waged against a weaker nation by a stronger.”

Today’s textbooks use terms such as “Westward Expansion” and “Manifest Destiny” to obscure how and why the US used its military superiority to acquire nearly half of Mexico as a result of the war. The conquered Mexican territory included what is now California, Nevada, Utah, and Arizona, along with parts of New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, and Kansas. The US paid Mexico $18.5 million as reparations, less than what it offered for California before the war.

Most historians also gloss over Polk’s actions and how he misled the Congress. The truth is in the Congressional Record and in battlefield journals, some of them stored in archives in both the USA and Mexico. Only a few historians have tried to research the documents and present the facts.

The book Abraham Lincoln and Mexico by Michael Hogan, an historian/ educator in Guadalajara, Mexico, presents these facts and includes many of these archival documents in their entirety so educators and the public can understand the factual history of how the Mexican-American War began. It’s a great way to learn from the past and stimulate discussion of ways to move forward in relations between the USA and Mexico.

The print version of Dr. Hogan’s 2016 book is in the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and in university and public libraries across the USA, and even in foreign countries. In the past two years, the Lincoln and Mexico Project (LAMP) has sent free print copies of the book to all members of the US Senate and distributed free copies of the eBook version to more than 400 educators in the USA, Mexico, and other countries as supplemental classroom material. Educators can request the free eBook by writing to lamp@lincolnandmexicoproject.org.