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Lesson Plans Overview

Manifest Destiny and the Power of Perspective
Manifest Destiny represented the forward-looking outlook of a young expanding nation, the United States. After exploring this topic through readings and video clips, students will write essays on Manifest Destiny from the perspective of the Mexicans and Indians.

Manifest Destiny and the Commercial Conquest of the United States
The American march to fulfill Manifest Destiny in western North America was not achieved by the military alone, but also by businessmen. In this activity, students will learn about the commercial conquest of America via readings and video clips. Then the students will create their own "commercial conquest.”

Manifest Destiny and the U.S.-Mexican War: Then and Now
In this activity, students will explore different American opinions about the U.S.-Mexican War (and by extension, Manifest Destiny) from both the 19th century and today. Students will then apply their knowledge by having a debate on the topic.

The Beginning of the War – Two Views on Texas
Students will research the two nations' very different viewpoints with regard to Texas and will form two teams, one representing the U.S. and one representing Mexico, to conduct a debate on the subject.

The Penny Press, Walt Whitman and the War
The U.S.-Mexican War was the first war to be covered by mass circulation newspapers. The coverage of the war excited Americans about the conflict that was taking place so far away from them. In this activity, students will learn about the Penny Press and then apply their knowledge by writing a "Penny Press"-style article about an event from the U.S.-Mexican War.

Is the Media Part of the Story?
Newspaper stories not only reported news about the war; they also had an influence on the events of the war (as they would again in other wars in the future). In this activity, students will learn about how the media influenced the events leading up to the war. Then students will research other historical examples in which the media has been thought to have had an impact on the course of a war.

Soldiers Find a Voice
Newspapers and other media also gave ordinary soldiers something that they had not had before: the chance to speak as individuals directly to the public. In this activity, students will look at how soldiers have found their voices through the media, then and now. After doing some research, students will present oral reports in which they will read passages from their favorite soldiers' blogs and explain why they are meaningful to them.

Songs of War
Popular culture often romanticizes war. In this activity, students will learn about some romanticized songs that were written about the very unromantic battles of the U.S.-Mexican War.

A Legacy of the War – The Gold Rush and the Foreign Miners’ Tax
The U.S.-Mexican War had a profound impact on both nations that fought it. One of the many positive results of the war for the United States was the acquisition of California. The discovery of gold in California in 1848 led to the Gold Rush, bringing great wealth to many Americans and promoting the spread of the population across North America. However, this new wealth was not shared with the Californios, the people of Mexican descent who were now naturalized American citizens. Focusing on the Foreign Miners' Tax, students will learn how the Californios were kept out of the gold rush.

Creating a War Memorial
Students will explore the ongoing historical significance of the memorial to "Los Niños Héroes" and then come up with their own ideas for an American national war memorial for the U.S.-Mexican War.