History & culture

Capture of Diaz de la Vega

Capture of General Rómulo Díaz de la Vega at Resaca de la Palma.

Library of Congress (no known restrictions)

War on the horizon

In the Spring of 1846, all eyes turned toward events on the Rio Grande.

When a long-brewing territorial dispute between the United States and Mexico erupted into war, residents of both nations clamored for details. Battle accounts filled the columns of the daily papers. Places like Palo Alto and Resaca de la Palma became household names.

So did the names of dozens of soldiers who served in these battles and emerged as heroes or celebrities. Caught in the excitement of the moment, politicians and citizens alike engaged in fierce debates about the causes, justice, and meaning of the conflict.

Still resonating

Today, the Battle of Palo Alto and the U.S.-Mexican War have faded from public attention. They remain an important part of the history of both nations though. We encourage you to learn more about this conflict and rediscover some of the stories and places that so captured public attention in the spring of 1846.

1844 presidential campaign poster

1844 presidential campaign poster featuring James K. Polk and George M. Dallas

Library of Congress (no known restrictions)

A man on a mission
During the 1844 presidential election, James K. Polk had run on a platform that promised the annexation of Texas and westward expansion of the United States. The addition of Texas would opened the door to a confrontation with Mexico and would test the resolve of the first "dark horse" President of the United States. Explore...

Setting the stage
The opening stanzas of the U.S.-Mexican War played out in the lower Rio Grande Valley. Conducted by the armies of Zachary Taylor and Mariano Arista, these clashed repeatedly as they vied for control of the area. Explore...

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