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Battle of Cerro Gordo
Battle of Cerro Gordo

In 1846 the United States invaded Mexico after a series of border disturbances following the American annexation of Texas in the previous year. The Mexicans had never recognized Texan independence, and considered the new American state a wayward province. President James K. Polk enraged Mexican officials still more when he insisted that Texas' southern border lay at the Rio Grande River, and not the more northerly Nueces, as Texans had previously agreed. Polk jumped at a skirmish between Mexican and American troops, north of the Rio Grande, as a call to arms. American troops quickly swept into Santa Fe, in present-day New Mexico, and soon controlled California as well. By 1847 American armies marching under generals Zachary Taylor and Winfield Scott had won victories deep in the Mexican interior, including here at Cerro Gordo. While the Democrats used the Mexican war to win new territories for the young nation, many Whigs, including Congressman Abraham Lincoln of Illinois, opposed the action. Whigs hoped to organize and refine life in the United States' extant territories rather than accumulate new, wild lands. But the Democrats' vision of westward expansion matched Americans' hunger for new lands and opportunities, and helped bring the party to political dominance in the antebellum period. Ironically, General Zachary Taylor won the presidency as a Whig in 1848, only to die in office.

Image source: Public domain
©Copyright 2002 Abraham Lincoln Historical Digitization Project