Context is key to understanding a historic event, and contextualizing a complex event is a challenge. Where do you begin? Too far removed and the history will lack nuance. Too close and the history may present the event as particular when, in fact, it reflected a larger trend. Because the United States and Mexico were both new countries at the war’s outbreak in 1846, an overview of each nation’s colonial history is necessary. From there I studied each nation’s early history, looking at political, economic, and social developments. I examined the domestic concerns that animated people in both countries. Abolitionists in the U.S. fearing the expansion of slavery, or Mexican elites facing potential revolution and ethnic unrest. Or leaders in both nations fearing political adventurism in the continent’s undeveloped vastness. Concerns not unfounded. They were rooted in experience, in history.
“The drama, indeed the tragedy, of history comes from our understanding of the tension that existed between the conscience wills and intentions of the participants in the past and the underlying conditions that constrained their actions and shaped their future.”
Wood, Gordon S. The Purpose of The Past: Reflections on the Uses of History. (New York: The Penguin Press, 2008).p.11
We had so much fun visiting Europe last year that we decided to book another Globus tour this year. This time we booked the Irish Escape, a 7-day tour of the Republic of Ireland that begins and ends in Dublin. Globus Escapes are a great introductory tour that visits many of the highlights associated with the tour’s given nation(s). We elected to travel in off-season again, March in celebration of my 60th birthday, as the prices are much reduced.
“Rather than trying to understand the past on its own terms, these historians want the past to be immediately relevant and useful; they want to use history to empower people in the present, to help them develop self-identity, or to enable them to break free of that past.”
“In their well-intentioned but often crude efforts to make the past immediately usable, these scholars undermine the integrity and the pastness of the past.”
Gordon S. Wood on many cultural historians from:
Wood, Gordon S. The Purpose of The Past: Reflections on the Uses of History. (New York: The Penguin Press, 2008).p8
Ron has produced an excellent history of the Alamo. From it’s construction to today, his posts cover the compound’s entire history. This is the first in a series of nine posts (so far?) on the subject. Just one of many series he has written on various subjects.
By the end of 15th century Span had claimed for itself all of South and Central America and as far north in North American as California, Utah, Wyoming, Colorado and Kansas. But claiming these lands and controlling them were two totally a different matters.
The professional Spanish Conquistadors sole mission was to look for gold and silver, not to create settlements for Spain. This was very true with their North America claims. In fact Colorado, Utah, Wyoming and Kansas went completely unsettled by the Spanish. The Spanish also had problems in populating the extreme northern parts of Florida and Mexico.
Although British colonists from Georgia and the Carolina colonies had begun settling in northern Florida and its panhandle it was losing their state of Texas that worried Spain the most.
In 1689, near Matagorda Bay in Texas, they found the remains of French explorer La Salle’s Fort Saint…
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“Remember the days of old,
consider the years long past;
ask your father, and he will inform you;
your elders, and they will tell you.”
Deuteronomy 32:7 NRSV
“The omission of such events as the Mexican War from the American consciousness does history injustice.”
“The cost in American lives was staggering. Of the 104,556 men who served in the army, both regulars and volunteers, 13,768 men died, the highest death rate of any war in our history. The period between 1844 and 1848 was a significant time, not something to be regulated to the attic of memory.”
Eisenhower, John S.D. So Far From God: The U.S. War With Mexico 1846- 1848. (New York: Random House, 1989). p. xviii
It was very cold when we visited Vienna. However, we had an excellent time. While we enjoyed everything about the trip, these are pictures from three things we found special.
As one of the more formative events in the establishment of the United States as one of the world’s great powers, it is strange that the Mexican- American War has been so willingly forgotten. Sandwiched as it was between America’s two Wars of Independence (the American Revolution and the War of 1812) and the American Civil War, the Mexican war’s significance is little considered on its own. It is little considered at all. A Military History of the United States course I completed spent remarkably little time on the subject. I spent more time reading about the war in one of my Spanish Language classes. Granted, I have lived my life in the East and have only visited the states involved in the war. Had I lived there I may have been exposed to more of the history.
“Nor were they just like we are. Their present was part of a different time, and because of that, they were different from us. We have to take into consideration, for example, all they had to contend with that we don’t even have to think about- all the inconveniences, discomforts, and fears. And the hard, hard work.”
McCullough, David. The American Spirit: Who We Are and What We Stand For. (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2017). p. 87.