Mississippi and the Mexican-American War, 1846-1848 Lesson Plan

Karla Smith


As many people in the United States in the 1840s believed in the country’s Manifest Destiny — to expand from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean — many Mississippians answered the call of duty in order to achieve this American goal by volunteering for the Mexican-American War. In 1848, when the United States emerged from the Mexican-American War as victors, the border of Texas was secured and the United States also gained Mexico’s northwest territory that embraces the present states of California, Nevada, and Utah, and parts of Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Wyoming.


Mississippi Social Studies Framework: Competencies 1, 3 and 4.


Grades 7 through 12


  • Mississippi History Now article, “Mississippi and the Mexican War, 1846-1818”
  • Unlined paper
  • Pens/pencils
  • Whiteboard and marker
  • Notebook paper
  • Computer (optional)


The student will:

  • Identify state and national leaders during the Mexican War.
  • Compose a news article about significant events during the Mexican War.


The teacher will ask the students which U.S. state was an independent country before becoming a U.S. state (Texas)? The teacher will ask the students if Mississippians were involved in helping Texas achieve statehood and secure her political borders (Mexican-American War)? The teacher will ask the students why thousands of young men in Mississippi would volunteer to fight in the Mexican-American War? The teacher will tell the students that today in class they will study about the Mississippi military leaders and soldiers who earned distinction for their service during the Mexican-American War.


  1. Draw the chart located at the end of this lesson plan on the board. Instruct students to copy the chart into their notebooks.
  2. Students should be instructed to complete the information on the chart by using the Mississippi History Now article. Students may work individually or with a partner for this activity.
  3. The teacher will ask for student volunteers to share the information that has been recorded on the student-constructed charts. The teacher will list the student responses on the chart constructed earlier on the board; this will allow students to check there charts for accuracy.
  4. The teacher will place the students in groups of three or four. Each group will be assigned or allowed to choose one of the following topics:
    • April 1846 ambush of American troops
    • President Polk’s request for war; declaration of war given on May 13, 1846
    • President Polk calls for military volunteers
    • Mississippians volunteer throughout the state – estimated at 17,000
    • High death rates contributed to disease
    • Battle of Monterrey that included Brigadier General Quitman, Colonel Davis, and the Mississippi Rifles
    • Battle of Buena Vista that included General Zachary Taylor, Colonel Davis, and the Mississippi Rifles
    • Amphibious landing near Veracruz that was led by Major General Winfield Scott
    • Brigadier General Quitman and the fall of Mexico City
    • Peace treaty at end of the Mexican-American War
  5. Allow the groups to conduct research on their assigned topic. After completing the research, as a group or as individual students, a news article should be composed on the assigned topic. The teacher may need to review the elements of a news story (articles should answer the questions Who, What, Where, When, Why and How?)


Allow the student groups to share their news articles with the class. If each individual student was assigned the news article, allow group members to share their paragraphs with their assigned group, then have the group select one of the news stories to be shared with the class.


  1. Class participation
  2. Charts
  3. News articles


  1. Students can construct maps of important locations during the Mexican War.
  2. Create a timeline of significant events during the Mexican War.
  3. Compose a news report for a specific event in the Mexican War.
  4. Design a newspaper about events during the Mexican War as well as events in other locations throughout the world during the Mexican War.


Leaders during the Mexican-American War


Level of Leadership Role


Contributions during the War

President James K. Polk




Commissioner John Slidell




General Zachary Taylor




Brigadier General John A. Quitman




Governor Albert Gallatin Brown




Colonel Jefferson Davis




Major General Winfield Scott




Colonel Stephen Kearny




General Santa Anna