Loading...

HIST313: War and American Society

Unit 3: War and Westward Expansion   American settlers’ incessant westward expansion across the North American continent brought the United States into conflict with Native American inhabitants as well as the Mexican government during the first half of the 19th century.  Indian wars were as old as the American colonies themselves, but they took on a particular intensity in the 19th century as the American government attempted to open up large sections of land in the trans-Appalachian frontier for American settlement.  The American Army and volunteer militia forces relentlessly pursued Indian warriors and ruthlessly destroyed native villages and crops in an effort to wipe out all resistance.  By the 1850s, most native tribes east of the Mississippi had been relocated to small reservation sites. 

American military forces also fought a controversial war against Mexico for control of southern Texas and the modern-day states of New Mexico, Arizona, and California.  The Mexican War resulted in a complete victory for American forces but also highlighted the weaknesses and lack of training of many of the volunteer units (as compared to professional army units) in the conflict.  It also engendered a vocal anti-war movement that made its presence known in the halls of Congress and the streets of American communities. 

In this unit, we will examine how America’s wars of westward expansion reflected American social and political attitudes toward Native Americans and Mexican citizens.  We will also look at how these conflicts shaped the development of American military tactics and strategies and provided military leaders with wartime experience that they would draw on a decade later, during the American Civil War.

Unit 3 Time Advisory
This unit should take you approximately 10 hours to complete.

☐    Introduction: 5 hours

☐    Subunit 3.1: 2 ½ hours

☐    Subunit 3.2: ½ hour

☐    Subunit 3.3: 2 hours

Unit3 Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this unit, the student will be able to:

  • Identify how American expansionist policies led to military conflicts with Mexico and Spain in the 19th century, in addition to wars with Native America peoples

  • Reading: Wikibooks: US History: “Westward Expansion and Manifest Destiny” Link: Wikibooks: US History:Westward Expansion and Manifest Destiny” (PDF)
     
    Instructions: This text addresses subunits 3.1 through 3.2.11.  Please read the entirety of the website in order to get a sense of the progress of the relationship between westward expansion, the possession of land, and democracy in American history. This online text was developed by Wikibooks as an open educational resource for use in undergraduate history courses.
     
    Terms of Use: The article above is released under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0 (HTML).  You can find the original Wikibooks version of this article here (HTML).

  • Web Media: PBS: American Experience: “We Shall Remain: Tecumseh’s Vision,” “We Shall Remain: Trail of Tears,” “We Shall Remain: Geronimo,” and “We Shall Remain: Wounded Knee” Link: PBS: American Experience:We Shall Remain: Tecumseh's Vision  ,” “  We Shall Remain: Trail of Tears  ,  ” “We Shall Remain: Geronimo," and “We Shall Remain: Wounded Knee
     
    Note: All video files are in Adobe Flash format.
     
    Instructions: Note that these documentaries address subunits 3.1 through 3.1.5.  Please watch each video in its entirety (approximately 70 minutes each).  Please watch the entire documentary titled “We Shall Remain: Tecumseh’s Vision” to better understand U.S. Indian policy as seen through the eyes of Tecumseh.  Then, please watch the entire documentary titled “We Shall Remain: Trail of Tears”to better understand U.S. Indian policy with regard to the Trail of Tears.  Watch the entire documentary titled “We Shall Remain: Geronimo”to better understand U.S. Indian policy as seen through the eyes of Geronimo.  Finally, watch the entire documentary titled “We Shall Remain: Wounded Knee” to better understand the events leading up to the Battle of Wounded Knee.  This website an entire series of documentariesproduced by the PBS program American Experience.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

3.1 Indian Conflicts   3.1.1 Northwest Frontier   3.1.2 Southeast Frontier   3.1.3 Indian Removal and the U.S. Army   3.1.4 War in the trans-Mississippi West   3.1.5 Expansionism, Manifest Destiny, and Cultural Genocide   3.2 The Mexican War, 1846-1848   - Reading: PBS: “The US-Mexican War” Link: PBS: “US-Mexican War” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please read the sections labeled “Prelude to War,” “War (1846-1848),” and “Aftermath.”   You can navigate back and forth using the toggle bar on the left hand side of the webpage.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Lecture: C-SPAN, American Presidents: “Life Portrait of James K. Polk” Link: C-SPAN, American Presidents: Life Portrait of James K. Polk (Adobe Flash)
     
    Instructions: Please watch the entire 1 ½ hour debate to better understand James K. Polk’s policies regarding American expansion and the Mexican-American War.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

3.2.1 Texas Independence   3.2.2 American Expansionism   3.2.3 Border Conflict in Texas   3.2.4 Declaration of War   3.2.5 Opposition to the War   3.2.6 Mexico Campaign   3.2.7 California Campaign   3.2.8 Conclusion of the Conflict   - Reading: Fordham University’s The Modern History Sourcebook: Paul Halsall’s version of “The Treaty of Guadaloupe Hidalgo,” February 2, 1848 Link: Fordham University’s The Modern History Sourcebook: Paul Halsall’s version of “The Treaty of Guadaloupe Hidalgo,” February 2, 1848 (HTML)

 Instructions: Please read the entirety of this webpage to better
understand the terms of the Treaty of Guadaloupe Hidalgo.  This
peace treaty was signed between the United States and Mexico ended
the Mexican-American War.  Article V of the treaty recognizes the
United States’ military control of California, New Mexico, Arizona,
and parts of southern Texas and establishes a new political boundary
between the two nations that encompasses these new territories.   
    
 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.

3.2.9 Military Lessons from War   3.2.10 Criticisms of the War   3.2.11 Mixed Social Attitudes Towards War for National Expansion   3.3 The Border War and Sectional Tensions, 1854-1858   3.3.1 Popular Sovereignty in Kansas   - Reading: Wikipedia: “Popular Sovereignty” Link: Wikipedia: “Popular Sovereignty” (PDF)
 
Instructions: Please read the entirety of this entry in order to get a sense of the meaning and history of popular sovereignty in the United States.
 
Terms of Use: The article above is released under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0 (HTML).  You can find the original Wikibooks version of this article here (HTML).

  • Reading: Wikipedia: “Bleeding Kansas” Link: Wikipedia: “Bleeding Kansas” (PDF)
     
    Instructions: This reading addresses subunits 3.3.1 through 3.3.4.  Please read the entirety of this entry in order to get a sense of the meaning and history of Bleeding Kansas. 
     
    Terms of Use: The article above is released under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0 (HTML).  You can find the original Wikibooks version of this article here (HTML).

3.3.2 Pro-Slavery Versus Anti-Slavery Forces   3.3.3 Guerilla Conflict   3.3.4 John Brown and the Expansion of the Struggle to a Nationwide Stage