Manifest Ambition: James K. Polk and Civil-Military Relations during the Mexican War

Overview

This is not another chronological retelling of the Mexican War. Instead, it examines civil-military clashes during the war in light of Jacksonian politics and the American citizen-soldier tradition, looking at events that shed light on civilian authority over the military, as well as the far reaching impact of political ambition during this period (specifically, presidential power and the quest for the presidency). By 1848, Americans had come to realize that in their burgeoning democracy, generals and politicians...

See more details below
Manifest Ambition: James K. Polk and Civil-Military Relations during the Mexican War

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 7.0
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 10.1
  • NOOK HD Tablet
  • NOOK HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK eReaders
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$30.49
BN.com price
(Save 39%)$50.00 List Price

Overview

This is not another chronological retelling of the Mexican War. Instead, it examines civil-military clashes during the war in light of Jacksonian politics and the American citizen-soldier tradition, looking at events that shed light on civilian authority over the military, as well as the far reaching impact of political ambition during this period (specifically, presidential power and the quest for the presidency). By 1848, Americans had come to realize that in their burgeoning democracy, generals and politicians could scarcely resist the temptation to use war for partisan gain. It was a lesson well learned and one that still resonates today.

The Mexican War is known for the invaluable experience it provided to future Civil War officers and as an example of America's drive to fulfill her Manifest Destiny. Yet it was more than a training ground, more than a display of imperialism. Significantly, the Mexican War tested civilian control of the military and challenged traditional assumptions about the role of the army in American society. In so doing, it revealed the degree to which, by 1846, the harsh partisanships of the Jacksonian Era had impacted the American approach to war. This is not another chronological retelling of the Mexican War. Instead, it examines civil-military clashes during the war in light of Jacksonian politics and the American citizen-soldier tradition, looking both at events that shed light on civilian authority over the military and at the far reaching impact of political ambition during this period (specifically, presidential power and the quest for the presidency).

In addition to politics, a host of others factors marred civil-military relations during the war, threatening U.S. victory. These included atrocities committed by Americans against Mexicans, disobedient officers, and inefficient U.S. military governors. In the end, as Manifest Ambition shows, Polk's ability to overcome his partisan leanings, his micro-management of the war effort, and his overall strategic vision, helped avoid both a prolonged occupation and the annexation of All Mexico. By 1848, Americans had come to realize that in their burgeoning democracy, generals and politicians could scarcely resist the temptation to use war for partisan gain. It was a lesson well learned and one that still resonates today.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Pinheiro explores in detail the relationship between civil authorities, particularly President James K. Polk, and the military during the Mexican War….Pinheiro argues that Polk's leadership style, ability to overcome his partisan leanings when necessary, and management of Congress and the War Department allowed him to keep his cabinet in check and respond to critics, thus enabling him to achieve his aim of annexing California. This is not a book for the uninitiated, as Pinheiro assumes familiarity with the events of the Mexican War, but students, period and civil-military relations specialists, and readers with a background in these areas will gain a deeper understanding of the course of the war. A bonus is a selection of documents and excerpts that bear on the issues raised in the text. Recommended for academic and larger public libraries."

-

Library Journal

"Pinheiro considers the civil-military clashes during the Mexican War in terms of Jacksonian politics and doctrines, American beliefs about how to preserve liberty, and the American citizen-soldier tradition. He examines the roles of James K. Polk, Henry Clay, Gideon J. Pillow, Zachary Taylor, Winfield Scott, and John C. Fremont. He argues that Jacksonian attitudes, partisan politics, Americans' traditional aversion to professional armies, atrocities committed against Mexicans, and the requirements of conquest and occupation posed a significant risk to US military victory and the administration's objectives. He presents an overview of the 1820s-1840s and events of the war, and discusses the following themes: war preparations, the political and military effect of Jacksonian doctrines, discontent in the military, governments in areas of occupation, Polk's leadership style and personality, and the war in the context of American civil-military relations since the War of 1812."

-

Reference & Research Book News

"Rather than offering a narrative history of the Mexican War, this book analyzes key issues relating to its conduct at the federal level….John C. Pinheiro takes on a daunting task in his analysis of the Mexican War's complex politics. He has drawn on a wide array of primary and secondary sources and has asked important questions about the role of the president as an individual in wartime, the process by which executive power steadily expands, and the impact of partisan politics and the political ambitions of individuals on the conduct of war. These issues he raises are as timely as they are significant in understanding the American side of the war with Mexico."

-

Journal of American History

". . . the book offers an evenhanded treatment of James K. Polk and the problems he faced as the nation's second commander in chief."

-

The Historian

Library Journal

Pinheiro (history, Aquinas Coll.) explores in detail the relationship between civil authorities, particularly President James K. Polk, and the military during the Mexican War. He examines how Jacksonian principles, the citizen soldier tradition, and partisan politics influenced the preparations for war, Polk's relationship with his generals, and the reaction to the civil and military governments established in New Mexico and California. Pinheiro argues that Polk's leadership style, ability to overcome his partisan leanings when necessary, and management of Congress and the War Department allowed him to keep his cabinet in check and respond to critics, thus enabling him to achieve his aim of annexing California. This is not a book for the uninitiated, as Pinheiro assumes familiarity with the events of the Mexican War, but students, period and civil-military relations specialists, and readers with a background in these areas will gain a deeper understanding of the course of the war. A bonus is a selection of documents and excerpts that bear on the issues raised in the text. Recommended for academic and larger public libraries.
—Stephen H. Peters

Read More Show Less

Product Details

Meet the Author

John C. Pinheiro is Assistant Professor of History at Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Co-editor of Volume 12 of the Presidential Series of the Papers of George Washington, his articles on the Mexican War have appeared in the Journal of the Early Republic, the Journal of Popular Culture, and in the anthology, Nineteenth-Century America (2005).

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents


Series Foreword     ix
Acknowledgments     xi
Introduction     1
Jacksonian America and the Coming of the Mexican War     7
"State Feuds and Factious Jealousy"     35
"All Whigs and violent partisans"     59
"A Number of Worthless Men"     83
"I was once viceroy"     105
Serving "the Great Body of the People"     131
The Mexican War in the American Civil-Military Tradition     155
Documents     181
James K. Polk, Inaugural Address, 4 March 1845     181
James K. Polk, Message to Congress, 11 May 1846     183
"Gaines Letter," Zachary Taylor to Edmund P. Gaines, 9 November 1846     189
William L. Marcy to Zachary Taylor, 27 January 1847     192
Zachary Taylor to William L. Marcy, 3 March 1847     192
"Leonidas Letter," 16 September 1847     194
Thomas Hart Benton, "Vindication of the President" Speech, 25 January 1847     196
Winfield Scott, "Proclamation to the Good People of Mexico," 11 April 1847     197
Winfield Scott, "Proclamation to the Good People of Mexico," 11 May 1847     198
Stephen W. Kearny, "Proclamation to the citizens of New Mexico, by Colonel Kearny, commanding the United States forces," 31 July 1846     199
Stephen W. Kearny, "Proclamation to the inhabitants of New Mexico by Brigadier General S. W. Kearny, commanding the troops of the United States in the same," 22 August 1846     199
John D. Sloat, "Proclamation to the inhabitants of California," 7 July 1846     200
Robert F. Stockton, "Proclamation to the people of California," 17 August 1846     201
Robert F. Stockton, "Proclamation to the people of California," undated     202
Robert F. Stockton to George Bancroft, 28 August 1846     202
Abraham Lincoln to William H. Herndon, 15 February 1848     203
Notes     205
Selected Bibliography     217
Index     223
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)