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Week Five: Nation Building in the West

Page history last edited by Michelle Cassidy 9 years, 8 months ago

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September 30: The Mexican-American War


Readings

 

 

 
 digital file from original      The issue joined     At the Battle of Palo Alto, the Americans greatly distinguished themselves ...      Mexican rulers, migrating from Matamoras with their treasures      color film copy transparency    

 

  Library of Congress, American Memory   

 


 

 

Study Questions

 

“The War with Mexico,” “The Mexican War-Its Origin and Conduct,” and the Library of Congress Cartoon Prints

-Compare and contrast the two articles. For example, consider the following:

 

1. What are the causes of the Mexican-American War given by The American Whig Review and how do they compare to the reasons provided by The United States Democratic Review?

 

2. How is President Polk portrayed in each article?

 

3. What are the similarities and differences in how Mexicans are portrayed in each article? How do the articles compare to the cartoon that includes Mexican soldiers? How does each piece describe relations with Mexico?

 

4. Paired with the cartoon prints from the Library of Congress, what do these articles demonstrate about how the Mexican-American War affected political parties and elections in the 1840s? What are the major political issues that the war highlights? How did the war affect the Election of 1848? Click on each print and view the “About this item” section on the LOC’s website to help consider these questions.

 

Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant

 

5. How does Grant portray American soldiers in comparison to Mexican soldiers?

 

6. How is Grant’s account different from the articles that appeared in The American Whig Review and The United States Democratic Review? What are his views on the Mexican-American War?

 

 

 

October 2: Exploring the West – John C. Fremont and the Corps of Topographical Engineers

 

Readings

 

 

 

Study Questions  

 

Fremont's 1856 autobiography and the Reports of Explorations and Surveys are a remarkable record of how the Corps of Topographical Engineers conducted their explorations of the trans-Mississippi west, as they surveyed the territory to find the best routes for future railroads. In the process these expeditions mapped the west's geology, zoology, and plant life--and gave detailed impressions of the landscape, as well as Indian peoples they encountered on their way. 

 

1. How were Fremont's expeditions different from Lewis and Clark's? How had the west changed since the Corps of Discovery first entered this territory? How had relations with and among Indians changed?

 

2. When looking through the topographical Reports of Expeditions and Surveys pay attention to themes, such as:

 

I. Geology, zoology, and botany

II. Building the railroads: routes and strategy 

III. Indians of the west 

IV. Artists' impressions of the west (lithographs and drawings) 

 

To help direct your exploration of these texts, consider the following questions:

 

I. What kind of resources (labor, supplies, and expertise) went into these expeditions? What did it take to plan a railroad? 

II. For what audience are these volumes intended? When were they published and who published them?

III. Who are the writers of the various texts that make up the volumes?

IV. What is the extent of the territory that these reports cover?

 

3, Think about the traits of westward expansion we have discussed previously--does the conceptualization of a railroad and the purpose of the topographical surveys differ from earlier forms of expansion? If so, how? Use questions I-IV to help formulate your response. 

 

4. The readings for this class covered a lot of material and required an individualized exploration of the texts. What types of conclusions did you draw from looking through Reports of Expeditions and Surveys? What passages or images did you find historically relevant, unusual, or otherwise of interest?

 

 

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