Polk’s War Message

Back in ‘46 (18), President James K. Polk fomented a little war with Mexico over a trumped-up border dispute with America’s southern neighbor. Viva California! This week in May marks the anniversary of President Polk’s request for a declaration of war against Mexico, which he got on May 13. Back in ’03 (20), I wrote a little paper comparing Polk’s war request with that of William McKinley 52 years later.

For those of you who enjoy such comparison, here is an excerpt:

James Polk selectively and manipulatively employed facts and exaggerated rhetoric to achieve his administration’s territorial goals. But only fourteen representatives—New England’s “Immortal Fourteen”—and one senator voted against a war resolution. Senator John Calhoun abstained. The war lasted longer than expected, but at its end the United States possessed California, New Mexico, and Texas to the Rio Grande. Polk’s war message epitomized the full flowering of America’s expansionist ambitions and interventionist practices in the 1840s.

Download my paper >> (pdf)

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