U.S. Mexico War: “We Take Nothing by Conquest, Thank God”

Teaching Activity. Lesson by Bill Bigelow and student reading by Howard Zinn. 21 pages.
Interactive activity introduces students to the history and often untold story of the U.S.-Mexico War. Roles available in Spanish.

  • Time Periods: Early 19th Century: 1800 - 1849, 19th Century | Themes: Imperialism, Latino, Slavery, US Foreign Policy, Wars & Related Anti-War Movements | Reading Levels: Grades 6-8, High School | Resource Types: Spanish/Bilingual, Teaching Activities (Free)

usmexicowarteapartyspanish_download_buttonToday’s border with Mexico is the product of invasion and war. Grasping some of the motives for that war and some of its immediate effects begins to provide students the kind of historical context that is crucial for thinking intelligently about the line that separates the United States and Mexico. It also gives students insights into the justifications for and costs of war today.

This activity introduces students to a number of the individuals and themes they will encounter in the chapter from Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States, “We Take Nothing by Conquest, Thank God.” The individual roles include: Cochise, Colonel Ethan Allen Hitchcock, Congressman Abraham Lincoln, Doña Francesca Vallejo, Francisco Márquez, Frederick Douglass, General Mariano Vallejo, General Stephen Kearny, Henry David Thoreau, Jefferson Davis, María Josefa Martínez, Padre Antonio José Martínez, President James K. Polk, Reverend Theodore Parker, Sgt. John Riley, William Lloyd Garrison, and Wotoki.



This lesson was published by Rethinking Schools in The Line Between Us: Teaching About the Border and Mexican Immigration. For more teaching activities like “U.S. Mexico War: “We Take Nothing by Conquest, Thank God,” order The Line Between Us  with role plays, stories, poetry, improvisations, simulations and video edited by Bill Bigelow. See Table of Contents.

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There are 7 comments by other visitors:

  • We learn that by stealing, killing, and destroying cultures we make and build on top of the old. This teaches children that killing, robbing and destroying is ok, a way of life.

    Response shared by cralvar2006 — July 12, 2011 @ 4:30 pm

  • I agree. We need to dispel the myths and lies of American history. We need to find an alternative heroes in history and not glamorize supposed legends.

    Response shared by rsgill2012 — April 22, 2012 @ 1:50 pm

  • You need to list THE IRISH SOLDIERS OF MEXICO as a source. It is the only history that uses both Mexican and Irish documents to relate the story of the San Patricios Battalion. The San Patricio CD that you list above was inspired by this history.

    Response shared by michael hogan — September 10, 2014 @ 3:45 pm

  • I highly recommend the book : “The Irish soldiers of Mexico by Michael Hogan. The book

    is the most definitive work on the Irish involvement in the US war against Mexico, well-

    documented with sources from the Mexican Army archives as well as the U.S. Army


    More information about the book is available on

    FaceBook: https://www.facebook.com/IrishMex

    The book is available on Amazon on Kindle and in paperback in both English and Spanish

    and provides maps, photos and over 400 bibliographical sources.

    Response shared by Miles Beacom — September 30, 2014 @ 12:08 pm

  • Great Resource! It gave my kids a good insight into the war and they used their Spanish speaking skills very well.

    Response shared by meza — April 17, 2015 @ 10:40 am

  • true…sorta kinda but did you also teach that virtually every country on earth was established by conquest…most several times over.

    Response shared by Guy — February 2, 2016 @ 12:11 pm

  • Ulysses S. Grant said the Mexican War was an unjust war. He fought there.

    Response shared by Maureen de Vries — April 25, 2016 @ 2:57 pm

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