James K. Polk & the Mexican War

President James K. Polk was responsible for America’s second largest expansion, including parts of Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, and Wyoming, as well as all of California, Nevada, and Utah, as part of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, ending the Mexican War (1846-48). These books include biographies of Polk and histories of the Mexican War.

Related event:
Robert Merry discusses A Country of Vast Designs, Nov. 17, 2009

James K. Polk

A Country of Vast Designs: James K. Polk, the Mexican War and the Conquest of the American Continent
By Robert W. Merry
In A Country of Vast Designs, Merry casts Polk’s accomplishments against the issues of the day, including debates over slavery and expansion, the appropriate use of military force, federal power and states’ rights, civility in the public square, and the fundamental principles of American foreign policy.

Polk book jacket

Polk: The Man Who Transformed the Presidency and America
By Walter R. Borneman
Borneman offers a major political biography of a great, but largely unsung, American president who won a war, transformed the government, and doubled the size of the U.S. – all in four years.

James K. Polk
By John Seigenthaler
Siegenthaler pens the story of the pivotal president who watched over America's westward expansion and solidified the dream of Jacksonian democracy.

Slavemaster President: The Double Career of James Polk
By William Dusinberre
James Polk owned substantial cotton plantations – in Tennessee and later in Mississippi – and some 50 slaves. Slavemaster President recreates the world of Polk's plantation and the personal histories of his slaves, in a careful and vivid account of how slavery functioned on a single cotton plantation.

The Mexican War

A Glorious Defeat book jacket

A Glorious Defeat: Mexico and Its War with the United States
By Timothy J. Henderson
The war that was fought between the United States and Mexico from 1846 to 1848 was a major event in the history of both countries: it cost Mexico half of its national territory, opened western North America to U.S. expansion, and brought to the surface a host of tensions that led to devastating civil wars in both countries. In contrast with many books that treat the war as a fundamentally American experience, Timothy J. Henderson offers a fresh perspective on the Mexican side of the equation.

Olive Branch and Sword: The United States and Mexico, 1845-1848
By Dean B. Mahin
On May 14, 1846, the U.S. Congress declared that the country was at war with Mexico. Despite protestations to the contrary, Mahin argues that the primary purpose of U.S. President James K. Polk in executing the war was the acquisition of California. In 1847, Nicholas P. Trist was sent on a diplomatic mission to deliver Polk’s peace terms to the Mexican president, Santa Ana. This diplomatic history of America’s first foreign war focuses on Trist’s efforts and the policies of the Polk administration.

Recollections of the War with Mexico
By John Corey Henshaw; edited by Gary F. Kurutz
Major John Henshaw, a dutiful regimental officer in the American invasion of Mexico, was one of only a handful of eyewitnesses to describe the two major theaters of that war from start to finish. This book presents Henshaw's recollections, covering all the action from the first skirmish in southern Texas to the collapse of Mexico City.

Invading Mexico: America's Continental Dream and the Mexican War, 1846-1848
By Joseph Wheelan
Popular historian Joseph Wheelan gives a chronicle of the first U.S. war declared on a dubious pretext, the ultimate example of "Manifest Destiny," the nation's first comprehensive anti-war movement, and the baptism by fire of the future generals of the Civil War.

The Year of Decision, 1846
By Bernard De Voto
This book tells many fascinating stories of the U.S. explorers who began the western march from the Mississippi to the Pacific, from Canada to the annexation of Texas, California, and the southwest lands from Mexico. It is the penultimate book of a trilogy which includes Across the Wide Missouri (for which DeVoto won both the Pulitzer and Bancroft prizes) and The Course of Empire. DeVoto's narrative covers the expanding Western frontier, the Mormons, the Donner party, Fremont's exploration, the Army of the West, and takes readers into Native American tribal life.

So Far From God: The U.S. War with Mexico, 1846-1848
By John S.D. Eisenhower
The Mexican-American War of the 1840s, precipitated by border disputes and the U.S. annexation of Texas, ended with the military occupation of Mexico City by General Winfield Scott. In the subsequent treaty, the United States gained territory that would become California, Nevada, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, and parts of Wyoming and Colorado. In this highly readable account, John S.D. Eisenhower provides a comprehensive survey of this frequently overlooked war.

Other books by Robert W. Merry

Sands of Empire book jacket

Sands of Empire: Missionary Zeal, American Foreign Policy, and the Hazards of Global Ambition
By Robert W. Merry
This title takes aim at the prevailing notion that Western civilization and American democracy are universal and can be dictated to the entire world. The author argues that America must accept the reality of fundamental cultural differences in the world and concentrate instead on its vital interests.

Taking On the World: Joseph and Stewart Alsop, Guardians of the American Century
By Robert W. Merry
Blue-blooded journalists Joseph and Stewart Alsop dominated the Washington press corps from the end of World War II to Vietnam. Their influence in the highest government circles was so great that they even initiated policy decisions. This rich and entertaining portrait of the Alsops and their age is an unusually illuminating window into American history.

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