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The Mexican-American War Lesson for Kids: Facts & History

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Instructor: Jennifer Lowery

Jennifer has taught elementary levels K-3 and has master's degrees in elementary education and curriculum/instruction and educational leadership.

The Mexican-American War between Mexico and the United States took place in the mid-1800s. In this lesson, learn about the conflict that led up to the war and what brought it to an end. Updated: 02/29/2020

Annexing Texas

Have you ever known neighbors or friends to disagree? What were their disagreements about? Two countries can have disagreements as well, and in the 1840s, the countries that were squabbling were Mexico and the United States. Texas had just been annexed into the United States, which meant it was an area of land that was taken in by the country.

Well, just like arguing neighbors, Mexico and the United States couldn't agree about the border of Texas. Mexico is located directly below the U.S., and its government felt the Texas land should end at the Nueces River (pronounced noo-ey-suh-s). Can you guess why? Because it gave Mexico more land! But the United States disagreed, saying that Texas should end at the Rio Grande River because (you guessed it!) this would give more land to our country.

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  • 0:04 Annexing Texas
  • 0:46 A Secret Mission
  • 1:09 Mexico Attacks
  • 1:34 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo
  • 1:59 New American Lands
  • 2:22 Lesson Summary
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A Secret Mission

Mexico got so mad about the situation that its government decided not to work with the United States anymore. It gave the U.S. the ultimate silent treatment! The country's president at the time and the eleventh president of the United States, James K. Polk, sent a secret mission of government leaders to Mexico in hopes that they could work with the other country to resolve the issue. But the Mexican government refused to meet with them.

Mexico Attacks

President Polk got news of this refusal, so he began preparing for war. However, Mexico beat him to it. Mexican soldiers went across the Rio Grande River and attacked American troops. War had begun. There were many battles and several American victories. More American troops died from disease and illness instead of actual combat. Even with these struggles, the American forces conquered Mexico City in 1847.

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