• Flying artillery crew in action.

    Palo Alto Battlefield

    National Historical Park Texas

Straight Talk

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Date: May 9, 2012
Contact: Karen Weaver

Who started the war between the United States and Mexico? Who were the men who fought that war? What documents explain what really happened in this conflict? And is Texas really as unique as it claims? These are some of the questions that will be answered in the symposium "Straight Talk: What Really Happened in the U.S.-Mexican War" sponsored by Palo Alto Battlefield National Historical Park and hosted by the Brownsville ISD.

The program will be held at the Brownsville ISD Central Administration Building Auditorium at 708 Palm Blvd. on Saturday May 19 and Saturday May 26. There are two speakers each day, with the morning presentation starting at 9 a.m. and the afternoon session at 1:30 p.m. Presentations are the general public, teachers, and students at no charge. Teachers can earn CPE and GT credit by also attending a GT session at 8:30 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. on each day.

In this series, four historians, each with extensive knowledge of the topic, will speak about various aspects of the U.S.-Mexican War. On May 19, Dr. Dr. Stanley Green, Texas A&M International University, will address different perspectives about the causes of the war. Dr. Jerry Thompson, also of Texas A&M International, will challenge the validity of popular myths about Texas and early statehood. On May 25, Dr. Bruce Winders, historian at the Alamo, will provide insight into the backgrounds of the soldiers of both nations and Dr. Armando Alonzo, Texas A&M University, will conclude with guidance on using primary sources to debunk myths and clarify history.

The symposium aims to set the record straight on common misconceptions and myths about the time period. For generations, students in Texas have been taught "facts" that are really myths and over-simplified explanations of complex events. This gathering of experts looks to cut through the legends and misrepresentations and to give an entertaining, but complete view of history.

For more information, e-mail Karen_Weaver@nps.gov or call (956) 541-2785, x. 333.

Saturday, May 19, 2012 9:30 AM
Origins of the U.S.-Mexican War: Views from South of the Rio Grande

Dr. Jerry Thompson, History professor, Texas A&M International, will correct myths about Texas statehood.  This former president of the Texas State Historical Association is the author of dozens of books and articles on Texas History, including A Wild and Vivid Land: An Illustrated History of the South Texas Border, which focuses on the colorful history of the border.

1:30 PM
Great Myths of Texas: What's True, What's Not

Dr. Stanley Green, History professor, Texas A&M International, will address the causes of the War with an emphasis on the Mexican perspective. Dr. Green, a former Fulbright Fellow to Mexico, published The Republic of Mexico: The First Decade, which uses primary documents to examine the political atmosphere of the newly-formed country.

Saturday, May 26, 2012 9:30 AM
Who Really Fought the War?

Dr. Bruce Winders, Historian and Curator of the Alamo, will discuss the organization and culture of the U.S. and Mexican armies. Dr. Winders has researched the soldiers of both the U.S. and Mexican army and is the author of the book Mr. Polk's Army: The American Military Experience in the Mexican War, which uses diaries and journals to present the social and political perspectives of both the regular and volunteer soldiers.

1:30 PM
Soldiers and Officers: Views of Texas and Northern Mexico

Dr. Armando Alonzo, History professor, Texas A&M-College Station, will introduce techniques to incorporate primary sources in social studies curriculum.  Dr. Alonzo wrote Tejano Legacy: Rancheros and Settlers in South Texas, 1734-1900, which analyzes the relations and roles of Tejanos during a time of explosive change. He has long been active in encouraging the teaching of history using primary sources.

Did You Know?

Battle of Palo Alto

In 1846, the U.S. army marched from Corpus Christi on March 8 and arrived at the Rio Grande on March 28. Today, travelers commonly cross the area in about 3 hours.