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

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.