Lesson Plan

Lasting Effects of the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo

Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo

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Grade Level:
Middle School: Sixth Grade through Eighth Grade
Social Studies
Lesson Duration:
90 Minutes
Common Core Standards:
6-8.RH.1, 6-8.RH.2, 6-8.RH.4, 6-8.RH.8
State Standards:
Texas History State Standards: 7.4 (A,B) Identify individuals, events, and issues during the Mexican War and the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo.
Thinking Skills:
Understanding: Understand the main idea of material heard, viewed, or read. Interpret or summarize the ideas in own words. Applying: Apply an abstract idea in a concrete situation to solve a problem or relate it to a prior experience. Creating: Bring together parts (elements, compounds) of knowledge to form a whole and build relationships for NEW situations. Evaluating: Make informed judgements about the value of ideas or materials. Use standards and criteria to support opinions and views.


Students will learn about the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo, read the articles of the treaty, and rewrite them in their own words. Students then write about how the Treaty affects them today. By the end of the lesson, students will be able to answer the question:

What is the significance of the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo and how does it affect us today?


On February 2, 1848, the United States and Mexico signed the treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo. In the Treaty, Mexico agreed to surrender all claims to Texas and accept the Rio Grande as the boundary of that state. Mexico also agreed to sell its New Mexico and Upper California territories to the United States at a price of $15 million. The treaty effectively halved the size of Mexico and doubled the territory of the United States.

This territorial exchange had long-term effects on both nations. The war and treaty extended the United States to the Pacific Ocean, and provided a bounty of ports, minerals, and natural resources for a growing country. The abundance of lands also produced debates about extending slavery into the West, a dispute that would help spark a nation-defining civil war. In Mexico, the loss of battles and territories was a national trauma. As political and military leaders challenged each other on the best way to revive their troubled country, Mexico also descended into a long period of turmoil, civil war, and foreign intervention. But the war also inspired new leaders who were determined to avoid additional humiliation for their country. The new generation eventually united Mexico, forced out foreign invaders, and established the foundations of a modern state.

Perhaps the most enduring effect of the war, however, is on U.S.-Mexican relations. While the war is recalled with passion south of the border, it is often overlooked to the north. And, although the two countries have developed strong bonds and friendly ties since 1848, these neighbors continue to struggle with distrust and misunderstandings created by the war, its effects, and the differing approaches to remembering the conflict. 


*Make one copy per student of each of the following: Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo, "The Treaty Today" worksheet, and the "Monument Design" assessment.

*Decide whether students will analyze sections of the treaty independently or in pairs. 

*Print one copy of the "The Treaty Today - Teacher Answer Sheet" for teacher use. 


Print one copy for teacher use.

Download Treaty Today - Teacher Answer Sheet

Make one copy per student.

Download Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo Transcript

Make one copy per student.

Download Treaty Today - Student Worksheet

Lesson Hook/Preview

*Ask students about a school policy they would like to change. (Option: Make up an issue about a new school policy that would be controversial like longer days, stricter dress code, etc.)

*Divide students into two groups. One group will be for the issue and the other against.

*Tell students they must negotiate and write down their negotiations. Give them five to ten minutes to complete this exercise.

*Tell students they just negotiated a treaty. Ask them what a treaty is or have them look it up. 



1. Tell students: After the War, the United States and Mexico signed a treaty called the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo. We will read this treaty and put it in our own words. 

2. Inform students whether they will be analyzing the treaty independently or in pairs. Assign out articles for each indivdiual or pair to analyze. (Note that although there are 23 articles, Article #10 was deleted.)

3.  Give each individual/pair a copy of the Treaty, the student worksheet "The Treaty Today", and a dictionary.

4. Tell students to read the Articles and put them in their own words.Tell students to look up any words they don’t know and to use context to assist. They will complete the "Treaty Today" worksheet to show their progress and thoughts on the modern affects of the Treaty. 


5. Have each group share their Article(s) with the class. As a group presents, the other students should write next to that section the historical significance and modern effects. 

6. Have a class discussion based on the key question: How does the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo affect us today? Write thoughts on the board. 

7. Tell students to use the brainstorming from the class discussion to design a monument symbolizing the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo. (See Assessment Section for Materials) 


  • Negotiate - Try to reach an agreement or compromise by discussion with others.
  • Treaty - a formally concluded and ratified agreement between countries.

Assessment Materials

Monument Design: Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo

Students have been hired by the National Park Service to design a monument or write a plaque to educate Palo Alto Battlefield visitors about the historical significance of the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo and its lasting effects today. After finishing their design, students will explain their choices.

To close the lesson, students will walk around the room and vote on their favorite monument or plaque design.

Monument Design - Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo

Download Assessment

Supports for Struggling Learners

*Print off and cut into strips the teacher answer sheet synopsis of each article, but without the article number. Provide these strips to struggling learners or readers to assist them in analyzing the article. 

*Highlight and annotate the article assigned for struggling readers. 

*Use teacher-chosen heterogenous pairs to support student analysis of Treaty. 

Enrichment Activities

*Imagine that the U.S. and Mexico were to update the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo. Rewrite your Article(s) as you think it should be written today.

*Find a modern newspaper article that relates to your Article(s). Create a display. 

Additional Resources

Background information on the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo can be found at OurDocuments.Gov.

The National Archives has a lesson plan about the treaty at Teaching with Historic Documents.

Contact Information

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Last updated: August 3, 2015