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Exhibit on Connecticut and the Mexican-American War Monday, June 21, 2010

Posted by pbaran in updates.
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Currently up for viewing is a one case exhibit in Memorial Hall entitled, “James Knox Polk, Connecticut and the Mexican-American War, 1846-1848.” Polk is a featured President in the continuing Presidential Signatures exhibit.

President Polk had campaigned on promises of the western expansion of the United States. Democrats across the nation and in Connecticut supported the war. In fact, a future Democratic Governor, Thomas Hart Seymour, won a medal for his bravery in the war. Whigs, including those in Connecticut, opposed the war. Connecticut’s Whigs warned that obtaining territory in the West was the war aim of Southern slaveholders, who anticipated that up to five slave states could be created out of western lands. Connecticut’s Whigs opposed this extension of slavery and the sectional conflict between Free states in the North and slave states in the South gained steam once again culminating with the Civil War.

The war ended with U. S. troops occupying all of Mexico’s major cities and claiming that Mexico was a defeated nation. In 1848, both sides convened and drew up the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. Mexico lost almost half of its territory, and the U. S. paid it fifteen million dollars. The border became the Rio Grande, not the Nueces River that Mexico had claimed. The treaty stated that Mexican citizens living in the ceded lands would become United States citizens and retain rights to their lands. However, according to some historians, over the years the Mexicans living there were not treated like citizens and Congress ratified the treaty without a promise of protection of their lands in the ceded territory.

The exhibit includes the diary of Nathaniel Lyon who became a General in the Civil War and was the first Union general killed; letter from President Polk to Isaac Toucey of Connecticut, June 8, 1848, asking Toucey to become the Attorney General; resolution of the Connecticut General Assembly against the U.S. annexation of Texas, June 6, 1844; Governor Isaac Toucey’s handwritten proclamation calling on patriotic men of Connecticut to volunteer for service against Mexico, June 4, 1846; and the Connecticut General Assembly resolution thanking General Zachary Taylor and troops for actions against Mexico early in the war, June 1846.

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