The US War Against Mexico

As part of our California History unit, learners studied real and fictional historic characters who were alive in 1846 during the U.S. war against Mexico. Each learner took on the role of one character and interacted with others in a “tea party” format. As a class, we talked about the importance of this war in determining the fate of California; after the war the Treaty of Guadalupe was signed and the land that now makes up California (that was part of Mexico before the war) became part of the United States. Looking at the map, learners were impressed by the large amount of land that changed hands from Mexico to the U.S. at the end of the war. The goal of the lesson was to show learners that there were many different perspectives and opinions about the war. Even though the war took place in Texas and lasted only two years, it played a significant role in our state’s history.
After studying their own characters and becoming experts (and actors!), learners mingled in class to find and talk with other characters. They shared their own perspectives (in character) and asked others questions. Following the tea party, we reflected as a class. Here were some of the class’s reflections:
“Some people who worked for the U.S. army didn’t think the war was fair, even though they were fighting in it.”
“William Lloyd Garrison was opposed to the war because if the U.S. won, he was worried there would be more slave states in the United States. Jefferson Davis was for the war and said that if the U.S. won the war, there should be more slave states.”
“War isn’t easy. Some people think it will be fun but it’s really not. There’s a lot of diseases and death in war.”
“Women in California had more rights under the Mexican government than the U.S. government. Many women were against the war.”
“Some people thought it wasn’t fair that half of Mexico’s land was taken by the U.S.”
Some of their learners left the lesson with their own opinions of the U.S. war against Mexico. Some were undecided. Ask your child how they stand!
The following week, learners worked on painting portraits of their characters. We used different shades instant coffee mixed with water to create the look of a daguerrotype (the first commonly used type of photograph).IMG_0615IMG_0616IMG_0617IMG_0618IMG_0619IMG_0620IMG_0621IMG_0622

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