Polk & the Mexican-American War

Academic U.S. & Virginia History
Mr. Briscoe & Mr. Null
Name: _______________________________
Block: _______
CLASS NOTES #17: Polk & the Mexican-American War
Warm-up: U.S. Presidents, 1829-1865
From the time of Andrew Jackson through the 1850s, America experienced a succession of relatively
weak chief executives, with one clear exception. See if you can guess the names of the presidents
pictured in the presentation and described below.
Years in Office Description
Party (State)
Strong or Weak?
Strong chief executive
Nickname: “Old Hickory”
Slave owner
Loyal to Andrew Jackson
Nickname: “Old Kinderhook”
Unpopular due to an economic
depression (Panic of 1837)
Popular war hero – “Tippecanoe”
Gave longest inaugural speech ever
Died of pneumonia a month later
Nickname: “His Accidency”
Distrusted by his own party members
Arranged annexation of Texas
Slave owner
Annexed Texas
Negotiated for Oregon Country
Started and won a war with Mexico
Nickname: “Young Hickory”
Slave owner
War hero
Nickname: “Old Rough and Ready”
Slave owner
Died of a horrible stomach ache
Sought to preserve national unity
Later ran as the American Party’s
candidate for president
Heavy drinker and often depressed
Good friend of Southern politicians
Only bachelor president
Good friend of Southern politicians
Preserved the Union
Emancipated slaves
Wrote the Gettysburg Address
(New York)
(New York)
(New Hampshire)
Polk Becomes President
James K. Polk campaigned against Whig Party candidate _________________________ in the 1844
presidential election. He won on a platform of promising to expand America’s borders westward.
Polk was a protégé of _______________________________________ and favored the expansion of
slavery westward.
Soon after becoming president in 1845, Polk pressed for the ____________________________ of Texas
despite protests from the Mexican government. Texas joined as a slave state in December 1845.
Oregon Treaty
Believing that war with _______________ was inevitable, Polk sought to peacefully resolve the dispute
over the ______________________________________ with Great Britain. He used popular support for
war, characterized by the slogan “____________________________________________________” to
pressure Britain for a treaty in 1846 that split the territory in two along the 49th parallel.
Three states eventually emerged from this territory:
* _____________________________ * ____________________________ *______________________
Mexican-American War (___________- __________)
After Mexico rejected his offer for purchasing _________________________ and __________________,
Polk provoked a war by ordering General ____________________________________ to move his army
into the disputed land between the Nueces and Rio Grande rivers in southern Texas.
The war resulted in a victory for U.S. forces. General ____________________________________ led an
invasion that resulted in occupation of Mexico City by American forces by September 1847.
The Treaty of _____________________________________________ of ________ resulted in Mexico’s
cession of a third of its territory to the U.S., including the future states of :
*______________________________________ *_____________________ *_____________________
* _____________ * part of ___________________________ *part of ____________________________
In 1848, the _______________________________________________________ began and thousands of
Americans moved west in an effort to get rich quick.
Opposition to “Polk’s War”
Many Northerners refused to support the war, blaming it on the _________________________________
in American politics. Henry David Thoreau refused to pay his taxes in protest and wrote his most
famous essay, ______________________________________________________, that inspired later
generations of Americans, including Martin Luther King, Jr.
Both Democratic and Whig congressmen supported the ____________________________________ of
1846 that called on President Polk to prevent the expansion of slavery into any territory acquired from
Mexico. The war re-opened the debate over slavery that had been closed by the Missouri Compromise.