Title page for ETD etd-03122005-172245

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author McGowan, Brian M.
URN etd-03122005-172245
Title Sufficient to Make Heaven Weep: The American Army in the Mexican War
Degree Master of Arts (M.A.)
Department History
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
William J. Cooper, Jr. Committee Chair
Gaines M. Foster Committee Member
Tiwanna M. Simpson Committee Member
  • Santa Anna
  • Andrew Jackson
  • Zachary Taylor
  • James K. Polk
Date of Defense 2005-03-01
Availability unrestricted
The Mexican War, 1846-1848, has often been overlooked in American history. Scholars have been more interested in assigning blame for the conflict, or assessing the role played by the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo in the coming of the Civil War. Only recently have scholars made any attempt to understand the motivations and attitudes brought to Mexico by American soldiers. This thesis focuses on how the racial and religious attitudes of American soldiers during the war were an implementation of the nationalism inherent in Manifest Destiny.

Americans used their perceived racial and religious superiority to further the goals of Manifest Destiny. Mexico was a country that could be the target of American aggression precisely because it did not conform to the proper standards of “civilization” Americans believed they enjoyed. American soldiers believed that God assigned them the duty of showing Mexicans how to worship properly, conduct a war, and practice republican government. Americans expressed their feelings in writing and through their contact with Mexican soldiers and civilians. American racial and religious attitudes drove their attitudes about Mexican women and allowed them to see Mexico as a failed republic that could be justifiably invaded by a nation espousing republican virtue.

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