The Mexican-American War

This Day in History

On this day in 1845, President Polk asked Congress to declare war on Mexico.  

The only president to achieve all his agenda items during his tenure, James Polk was one of the most overlooked president to sit in the Oval Office.

A relatively unknown political outsider, Polk accomplished much during his brief four years as leader of the nation. In addition to reducing taxes, reforming the national banking system, and settling boundary disputes with the British, he also led the developing nation into the Mexican-American War, on this day in 1845. 

President Polk

Prior to declaring war, Polk had negotiated with the Mexican government concerning purchasing the disputed lands along the Rio Grande and Nueces River. After his offer was rejected, Major General Zachary Taylor marched into the territory where his troops were attacked. The bloody battle killed 12 Americans. The United States retaliated by invading parts of Central Mexico and instigating blockades along the border. 


After numerous historic battles in the nearly two year war, the Americans won the victory and Mexico signed the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848, giving the United States the territory of California and Texas. Mexico acknowledged the dividing national line to be the Rio Grande River. 

Polk’s mission to expand the United States from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean was officially accomplished in just the first two years of office. 

True to his one-term limit promise, Polk did not seek reelection despite his popularity and successful negotiations and stepped down from his position and lived quietly out of public life until he died shortly after leaving office. 

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