Manifest Destiny and the Mexican-American War


Process Paper

    Imperialism was mainly a European idea and is a contradictory topic in our study of American "freedom" via Eric Foner. Our initial focus was American imperialism in the Pacific, including the trade-opening of Japan, the Spanish-American War and the annexation of Hawaii in 1899. After much debate over specification and time-relevance within the constraints, our focus shifted to the Mexican-American War because of its significance in developing the American Empire, like the Spanish-American War though whose reform was cleanly in the 19th century.

decided that books, eLibrary sources, and primary sources should be our main sources. During the first few days, each of us procured sources independently about imperialism in the Pacific. Unfortunately, because of the topic shift from 1898 to 1846, we lost many reputable sources—including primary anti-imperialist arguments pertaining to the Spanish-American War—, though some of which were deemed useful for our new “Reform.” After perusing for “new” books on Oxford, PBS, and Amazon, we as a team continued to utilize the public library to borrow/reserve books on manifest destiny, the Mexican-American War, and American imperialism in general. The most helpful books and articles so far were about American imperialism in general, all of them renowned and authoritative, which generally covered a broad number of years, including Anderson’s The Dominion of War and even Howe’s What Hath God Wrought, so only several of the chapters were relevant in finding the links between our “Revolution, Reaction, and Reform” points. The most helpful manifest destiny sources were the works of John L. O’Sullivan himself, which explained our “Revolution” theme well. Primary source documents were obtained via online digital archives, like eLibrary and Google Books, and university websites. Robert W. Johanssen, who wrote the “Mexican War” in Eric Foner’s historical encyclopedia, was a recurring author and therefore expert in our research with multiple articles on eLibrary and one in book about the Mexican War, To the Halls of the Montezumas: The Mexican War in the American Imagination, as well as an article for PBS and an interview.


   Our Website consists of a Homepage, followed by three pages for revolution, reaction, and reform, each with subpages.  The revolution page is titled Manifest Destiny, and reaction and reform are respectively titled Mexican-American War, and Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo.  The homepage has three pictures with captions and links to the three pages.  The Blog, process paper, and annotated bib. are at the end.


   The Mexican-American War is the reaction of our theme Revolution, Reaction, Reform. The revolu
tion of the “American Empire” is the idea of manifest destiny, a radical change in American mindset from individual desires for land into a unified, government driven movement, culminated in the annexation of Texas. The reaction was anti-expansionist views from multiple scholars, who resented the development of imperialism, and the Mexicans’ resentment toward the taking of their claimed lands. This caused tensions to escalate into the Mexican-American War and the subsequent American victory and Mexican cession. The reform was the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, and the dispute over how much land America should take from Mexico.

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