By the end of this lesson, students will:

  • come up with a working defintiion of Manisfest Destiny and give examples, both past and possibly present.
  • discuss the issues of statehood for Texas, Oregon, and California, and briefly look at the Battle of the Alamo
  • create a Graphic Organizer Web outlining the War with Mexico using their textbooks for information
  • look for comparisons between the writings of HDT and MLK while analyzing both Civil Diksobedience and Letter from Birmingham Jail
  • For homework, students will annotate the Treaty of Guadalupe Hialgo and create a list that shows what role Manifest Destiny played in its creation.


DC Content Power Standards :
1.6, 1.7, 1.9 Influences on American Revolution, Formation of Constitution, Effects of Civil War and Reconstruction
DC Content Supporting Standards:
DCPS 11.1.9: Explain the effects of the Civil War and Reconstruction and of the Industrial Revolution, including demographic shifts and the emergence in the late 19th century of the United States as a world power. (G, P, E)
DC Historical and Social Studies Skills Standards:
HCI.1, HCI.3, HCI.7 Compare Past to Present, Connecting Events and Trends, Meaning/Impact of Historical Events
Common Core Reading for Literacy in Social Studies Standards:
RH.11-12.1, 2 , 4, 10: Cite textual evidence, summarize, vocab, read complex texts
Common Core Writing for Literacy in Social Studies Standards:
WHST.11-12.8a, 8c, 5a Use print and digital sources, Determine value of a source, Brainstorming, Outlining


Civil Disobedience, Henry David Thoreau

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Letter from Birmingham Jail, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Warm Up

Get out your notebooks and individually, without referring to your notes, define Manifest Destiny.

After you have come up with a definition, share it with your group, decide on wording that you all can agree on and then answer the following question:

  • How did the notion of Manifest Destiny impact between Americans living in Texas and California and the Mexican government that invited them there?
  • Remember, you must consider the reasons that Mexico invited Americans into Texas in the first place.

New Material

In this lesson students will be analyzing cause and effect of immigration (and the idea of Manifest Destiny) on politics in both the US and Mexico, as well as how it led to war.

  • Students will be looking and comparing texts from HDT and MLK and will discuss similarities between both the men and what they wrote.
  • Students will review a map of the Republic of Texas and determine what can be learned from it.
  • Students will look at a schematic of the Alamo as the battle is briefly discussed
  • If time permits, students will look at the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo.

The Alamo

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Map of Texas (1836-1853)

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Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo Primary Source document pg 1

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Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo (February 2, 1848) Excerpts

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Students will begin class by defining Manifest Destiny and then by referring to their Booknotes, determine some likely effects of this idea.

Students will then discuss the issues relating to the annexation of Texas, Oregon, and California and the role that Manifest Destiny may have taken. 

A deeper discussion about Texas will ensue. Students will be given a schematic of the Alamo and a short lecture will describe the events.

Students will look at the map of the Republic of Texas and connect the various annexations by the United States to events, battles, treaties. 

Students will then create Graphic Organizer Webs representing the Mexican War and finally will discuss the role that geography played in the start of the war.

Students will analyze the ideas of HDT and MLK as they relate to war and protest in general.

NOTE: While this lesson can be completed in a 55 minute class, it may require additional time. You can divide this class into two sections or complete it in one 90 minute class.


Exit slip: How were Thoreau's protest against slavery, and Dr. King's protests against racial injustice impacted by the ideas of Manifest Destiny?

Closure and Reflection

Ladies and gentlemen, today we saw that an idea that G~d has chosen a specific set of people, be it religious, ethnic, or even geographic, to favor, or to make dominant over the world can cause great pain.

Go home and look over the excerpts from the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. Annotate it with the following question in mind: How did Manifest Destiny impact the war with Mexico? What role did geography play in the war and how did it ultimately impact the terms of the treaty? Some additional research may be necessary.

I would like you to think about the impact of the ideals of Manifest Destiny tonight and how they have affected people throughout the history of the out nation. Make some connections, jot them down. We will discuss them tomorrow.