Unit 5: Manifest Destiny and the U.S.-Mexico War

LAS Curriculum Plan

US Occupation of Mexico City

Focus on Mexican perspectives on the US-Mexcian War, or the War of the North American invasion (la guerra de la invasión norteamericana), as it’s known south of the border. Below is a curated list of resources to support the teaching and learning about the War of US Invasion.

Unit Readings: American Yawp Chapters 12–13

Guiding Questions:

  • What crises emerged in the 1850s and how did they relate to the U.S.-Mexico War?
  • What was Manifest Destiny and how did it relate to the U.S.-Mexico War?

Instructor Bibliography — [could assign some of these to students and a couple are part of the curated teaching materials below]

Materials and resources for constructing a lesson:

Key points of emphasis:

  • Mexico never recognized Texas’ Independence — therefore officials in Mexico City considered annexation an act of war.
  • The Mexican conflict with Apaches, Commanches, and (in New Mexico) Navajos constituted what Brian DeLay has termed “The War of a Thousand Deserts” — a devastating war that left Mexican settlers in the North incapable of mounting an effective defense against the US in 1846.
  • As was virtually always the case in international relations in North America, indigenous peoples were not included in negotiations that ended the conflict and resulted in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo.
  • The legacy of the North American Invasion looms large in Mexican memory and history, while the US-Mexico War gains less attention north of the border where it’s often discussed in the context of Manifest Destiny or Western Expansion rather than as a conquest or an invasion.
  • The North American Invasion of Mexico and the subsequent treaty became a rallying point for diplomats across the hemisphere to take on the unifying name of “Latin America” to push back against growing US imperialism (see Gobat article).

En español: Secretaría de Defensa Nacional (México), “La Invasion Norteamericana,” Accessed 8 May 2021.

For Mexican historical background in the lead-up to the war, “Battle for North America” documentary, volume 3:

Peter Guardino discusses his recent book, The Dead March, with a symposium at the Latin American Centre, University of Oxford:

John Green Crash Course US History, “War and Expansion”:



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Brandon Morgan

Brandon Morgan

CC History Instructor, father of three, and researcher of the Borderlands, U.S. West, and Modern Mexico. Working on a book about Violence and the rural border.