Lesson Plan

We want you!

Uncle Sam

We Want You!

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Grade Level:
Eighth Grade-College Undergraduate Level
Subject:
Hispanic or Latino American History and Culture, History, Mexican War, Military and Wartime History, Social Studies
Duration:
This lesson will take 30-45 minutes to complete.
Group Size:
Up to 36
Setting:
classroom
National/State Standards:
National Standards:
Gr 5-12 Social Studies: World History Eras 4 & 7
Gr K-12 National Standards-Language Arts: 1, 3, 4, 12
Keywords:
Volunteer Soldiers, regular army, U.S. Army, Mexican Army, war, soldiers

Overview

At the start of the U.S.-Mexican War, both Mexican and U.S. citizens mistrusted a standing army. In this lesson, students discuss reasons for joining an army. Next, they discuss the differences between a regular army and a militia of volunteers. Then they review and discuss U.S. and Mexican perspectives on regular and volunteer soldiers.

Objective(s)

Guiding questions:
  • Why do people join the army?
  • What is the difference between a regular army and a militia of volunteers?
  • What were the U.S. and Mexican perspectives on regular and volunteer soldiers?
Critical content:
U.S.-Mexican War Soldiers

Student objectives:
  • Discuss reasons for joining an army
  • Discuss differences between a regular and all-volunteer army
  • Discuss the U.S. and Mexican perspective on regular and volunteer soldiers 

Background

Before starting, review and print out the PDF worksheets in the Materials section. This lesson can be modified for High School students.

Materials

PDFs for this lesson plan include:
  • Dividing the Class (PDF 54.9 KB)
  • U.S. Viewpoints on the Standing Army Before the U.S.-Mexican War (PDF 109 KB)
  • Mexican Viewpoints on the Standing Army Before the U.S.-Mexican (PDF 108 KB)
  • Volunteers for Texas *optional extension activity* (PDF 139 KB)

Procedure

Assessment

Assess student performance in two key areas:
  • Participation in group discussion
  • Worksheets
Above proficient
Group discussion:  Offers information which directly relates and builds on the topic.
Worksheets:  Thoughtful answers. Effective and accurate use of writing conventions.

Proficient
Group discussion:  Offers information which directly relates to the topic.
Worksheets:  Completed. Effective and accurate use of writing conventions.

Below proficient
Group discussion:  Offers very little information of which some relates to the topic.
Worksheets:  Incomplete. Writing conventions are not always followed.

Extensions

  1. At the time of the U.S.-Mexican War, many citizens mistrusted a standing army. President Polk stated that "standing armies . . . are contrary to the genius of our free institutions, impose heavy burdens on the people and are dangerous to public liberty." Have students write essays about or discuss this statement.
  2. Use the worksheet with the political cartoon "Volunteers for Texas" from the Materials section.
  3. Have students pretend to volunteer for the U.S.-Mexican War and write a letter explaining their reasons for volunteering.

Vocabulary

draft:  requiring people to do military service.  The formal word for a draft is conscription.
citizen army:  an army made up of citizens who volunteer in times of war.
conscription:  law that orders men into military service.
conscript:  person who is forced to join an army.
regular army:  permanent army of a country with professionally trained soldiers.
militia:  group of citizens who are not part of the regular army with some military training who are called to active duty only in an emergency.
fatigue:  manual work performed by military personnel.