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A Guide to the Mexican War

Compiled by Kenneth Drexler, Digital Reference Specialist

"A little more grape Capt. Bragg." General Taylor at the battle of Buena Vista, Feb. 23, 1847.
"A little more grape Capt. Bragg." General Taylor at the battle of Buena Vista, Feb. 23, 1847.
Lithograph by N. Currier, 1847.
Prints & Photographs Division.
Reproduction Number:

The digital collections of the Library of Congress contain a wide variety of material associated with the Mexican War (1846-1848), including manuscripts, maps, broadsides, pictures, sheet music, books, and government documents. This guide compiles links to digital materials related to the Mexican War that are available throughout the Library of Congress Web site. In addition, it provides links to external Web sites focusing on the Mexican War and a bibliography containing selections for both general and younger readers.

Library of Congress Web Site | External Web Sites | Selected Bibliography

Digital Collections

Abraham Lincoln Papers at the Library of Congress

The complete Abraham Lincoln Papers at the Library of Congress consists of approximately 20,000 items, including correspondence and enclosures, drafts of speeches, and notes and printed material. Most of the items are from the 1850s through Lincoln's presidential years. However, there are some documents from Lincoln's term as a member of the House of Representatives (1847-49) related to the Mexican War and its aftermath.

Examples of documents concerning the Mexican War include:

California As I Saw It: First-Person Narratives of California's Early Years, 1849 to 1900

This collection consists of the full texts and illustrations of 190 works documenting the formative era of California's history through eyewitness accounts, including many references to the Mexican War.

Among the collection's books concerning the Mexican War are:

Search on the phrase "Mexican War" to locate more recollections of the conflict.

A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation: U.S. Congressional Documents and Debates, 1774-1875

This collection contains the records of Congress from 1774 to 1875, including journals, debates, bills, and laws. The Congressional Globe, U.S. Statutes at Large, House Journal, and Senate Journal can all be researched to examine the role of the Congress during the Mexican War.

Highlights from the Mexican War in this collection include the following:

  • May 11, 1846 - President James Polk submitted a message to Congress outlining his reasons for declaring war with Mexico.
  • May 11, 1846 - Messages of the President of the United States, with the correspondence, therewith communicated, between the Secretary of War and other officers of the government, on the subject of the Mexican War (H.exdoc.60)
  • May 11, 1846 - The House of Representatives approved a resolution declaring war with Mexico by a vote of 174 to 14.
  • May 12, 1846 - The Senate approved a resolution declaring war with Mexico by a vote of 40 to 2.
  • May 13, 1846 - President Polk signed "An act providing for the prosecution of the existing war between the United States and the Republic of Mexico".
  • February 2, 1848 - The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was signed by the United States and Mexico.
  • March 10, 1848 - The Senate ratified the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo by a vote of 38 to 14.

Search this collection in the 29th and 30th Congresses to locate additional congressional information on the Mexican War and its aftermath.

James K. Polk Papers

The papers of James K. Polk (1795-1849), governor of Tennessee, representative from Tennessee, Speaker of the House of Representatives, and eleventh president of the United States, contain approximately 20,500 items dating from 1775 to 1891, with the bulk falling in the period 1830-1849.

A selection of highlights concerning the Mexican War includes:

Map Collections

The Library of Congress has custody of the largest and most comprehensive cartographic collection in the world with collections numbering over 5.5 million maps, 80,000 atlases, 6,000 reference works, over 500 globes and globe gores, 3,000 raised relief models, and a large number of cartographic materials in other formats, including over 19,000 cds/dvds. The online map collections represents only a small fraction that have been converted to digital form. Included in this digital collection are ten maps associated with the Mexican War.

Music for the Nation: American Sheet Music, ca. 1820 to 1860

This collection consists of over 15,000 pieces of sheet music registered for copyright during the years 1820 to 1860. Included are popular songs, operatic arias, piano music, sacred and secular vocal music, solo instrumental music, method books and instructional materials, and some music for band and orchestra. There are more than fifty pieces of sheet music written about the Mexican War in this collection.

Printed Ephemera: Three Centuries of Broadsides and Other Printed Ephemera

The Printed Ephemera Collection at the Library of Congress is a rich repository of Americana. In total, the collection comprises 28,000 primary-source items dating from the seventeenth century to the present and encompassing key events and eras in U.S. history, including the annexation of Texas and the Mexican War.

This collection includes the following documents concerning the Mexican War:

America's Library

Jump Back in Time: The Battle of Buena Vista, February 23, 1847

Jump Back in Time: The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo Was Signed In Mexico City, February 2, 1848

Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers

Chronicling America

This site allows you to search and view millions of historic American newspaper pages from 1789-1924. Search this collection to find hundreds of newspaper articles related to the Mexican War.

Examples of articles about the Mexican War include:

National Jukebox

National Jukebox

The Library of Congress presents the National Jukebox, which makes historical sound recordings available to the public free of charge.

Online Presentation

The Guadalupe Hidalgo Treaty

In honor of the 150th anniversary of the treaty signing, the Library of Congress created an online presentation on the Guadalupe Hidalgo Treaty. It includes page images of the original treaty housed in the Library of Congress Manuscript Division and the area map used during the negotiations from the Geography and Map Division.

Prints and Photographs Division

Pictorial Americana: Selected Images from the Collections of the Library of Congress

Pictorial Americana, a 1955 Library of Congress publication, contains a chapter listing selected images related to the Mexican War.

Search the Prints and Photographs Online Catalog (PPOC) for additional images concerning the Mexican War.

Today in History

November 5, 1844

On November 5, 1844, Democratic candidate James K. Polk defeated Whig party candidate Henry Clay to become the eleventh president of the United States.

June 23, 1845

On June 23, 1845, a special session of the legislature of Texas voted in favor of annexation by the United States.

May 8, 1846

General Zachary Taylor defeated a detachment of the Mexican army in a two-day battle at Palo Alto and Resaca de la Palma on May 8, 1846.

February 23, 1847

The Battle of Buena Vista was won by the United States on February 23, 1847. General Zachary Taylor, future president of the United States, was the commander of American troops in this victory over Mexican General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna.

February 2, 1848

The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was signed in Mexico City on February 2, 1848.

Link disclaimerExternal Web Sites

A Continent Divided: The U.S.-Mexico War

This Web site is a joint project of the Center for Greater Southwestern Studies and the Library at the University of Texas at Arlington. It contains essays, biographies, and a timeline that provide background information about the war, as well as primary sources from the war such as proclamations, letters, diaries, images, maps, music, and poetry.

Descendants of Mexican War Veterans

This site contains an essay on the Mexican War, as well as a chronology of events and a bibliography. It also includes images, government documents, maps, statistics, and a list of historical sites associated with the war.

The Mexican-American War

This Northern Illinois University Web site contains a historical overview of the Mexican-American War (1846-1848), as well as documents, images, sound recordings, and lesson plans related to the conflict.

Online Bookshelves: Mexican War

The U.S. Army Center of Military History provides the full text of online books related to Mexican War and a bibliography of selected readings.

Palo Alto Battlefield

The National Park Service provides background information on the battle at Palo Alto and the Mexican War in general. This site also provides links to external sites associated with the war.

The Polk Project

The James K. Polk Project and the University of Tennessee Press have arranged with Newfound Press, the digital imprint of the University of Tennessee Libraries, to release all published volumes of the Correspondence of James K. Polk in searchable, open-access pdf versions. Polk's papers contain a large number of documents related to the Mexican War.

The U.S. Mexican War (1846-1848)

This site on the Mexican War is a companion to a PBS documentary on the war. It includes an overview on the war and its aftermath, biographical essays, an interactive timeline, video clips, and lesson plans. It also contains primary-source materials such as maps, illustrations, and posters.

Selected Bibliography

Bauer, K. Jack. The Mexican War, 1846-1848. New York: Macmillan, 1974.
LC call number: E404 .B37 [Catalog Record]

Eisenhower, John S. D. So Far from God: The U.S. War with Mexico, 1846-1848. New York: Random House, 1989.
LC call number: E405 .E37 1989 [Catalog Record]

Frazier, Donald S., ed. The United States and Mexico at War: Nineteenth-Century Expansionism and Conflict. New York: Macmillan Reference USA, 1998.
LC call number: E404 .U66 1998 [Catalog Record]

Heidler, David S. and Jeanne T. Heidler. The Mexican War. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2006.
LC call number: E404 .H44 2006 [Catalog Record]

Johannsen, Robert Walter. To the Halls of the Montezumas: The Mexican War in the American Imagination. New York: Oxford University Press, 1985.
LC call number: E404 .J64 1985 [Catalog Record]

Mahin, Dean B. Olive Branch and Sword: The United States and Mexico, 1845-1848. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Co., 1997.
LC call number: E408 .M34 1997 [Catalog Record]

Winders, Richard Bruce. Mr. Polk’s Army: The American Military Experience in the Mexican War. College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1997.
LC call number: E409.2 .W56 1997 [Catalog Record]

Younger Readers

Bardhan-Quallen, Sudipta. The Mexican-American War. Detroit: Blackbirch Press, 2005.
LC call number: E404 .B35 2005 [Catalog Record]

Carey, Charles W., Jr. The Mexican War: "Mr. Polk's War". Berkeley Heights, N.J.: Enslow Publishers, 2002.
LC call number: E404 .C26 2002 [Catalog Record]

Mills, Bronwyn. U.S.-Mexican War. New York: Facts On File, 2003.
LC call number: E404 .M55 2003 [Catalog Record]

Nardo, Don. The Mexican-American War. San Diego, Calif.: Lucent Books, 1999.
LC call number: E404 .N37 1999 [Catalog Record]

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  October 26, 2017
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