Essays on the Mexican War

Essays on the Mexican War

Essays on the Mexican War

Essays on the Mexican War

Excerpt

Amid the confusion and triumph of the closing days of World War II, the centenary of the war between the United States and Mexico passed largely unnoticed in this country, though not in Mexico. The 1950s had its own war in Korea to think of. The 1960s, proclaiming peace and the irrelevance of war, observed the centennial of the Civil War by either criticizing the loss of life or arguing about the treatment of slaves. Certainly the Civil War Centennial aroused more interest among historians than among the general public. But beginning in the 1970s there has been a renewed interest in this first of our wars to be fought on foreign soil. Not only has Justin Smith's history, for decades the standard secondary work on the subject and for years out of print, been reissued, but also a number of the classic personal narratives written by participants have appeared. Other contemporary sources have been brought to light and into print. The interest of collectors and consequently of booksellers in the Western Americana field has been drawn to this area, and important collections of source material such as the Jenkins Garrett Collection, now at the University of Texas at Arlington, and the Frederick W. Beinecke Collection at Yale have been made available to scholars. The result has been a modest but steady flow of serious historical monographs on a wide variety of aspects of the war.

There are a number of reasons why historians had so long neglected this phase of American history. As wars go, the Mexican War was a minor one, of comparatively short duration and involving relatively small numbers of troops on either side. Military history, like local history, has usually been considered by the profession to be a minor field, of interest chiefly to the amateurs and antiquarians. Major historians who dealt with the Mexican War tended to treat it simply as one more detail in the large picture of westward expansion and Manifest Destiny.

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