For Duty and Honor: Tennessee's Mexican War Experience

TitleFor Duty and Honor: Tennessee's Mexican War Experience
Publication TypeBook
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsJohnson, Timothy D.
Number of Pages302
PublisherThe University of Tennessee Press

The outbreak of the American Civil War was destined to cast a long shadow over the earlier, shorter Mexican-American War (1846-1848), as evidenced by today's relatively slight historiography on the conflict. As for Tennessee's role in the war, history remembers little more than its large contribution of volunteers and subsequent state moniker as "The Volunteer State." Today, beliefs persist that the Mexican-American War was simply a colossal land grab for the United States in its pursuit of the doctrine of Manifest Destiny, and that Tennesseans enlisted to protect and expand the institution of slavery. As the author argues in this volume, these stereotypes do not characterize the motives of Tennesseans. Through a succinct examination of journals, memoirs, and letters from the conflict, the author reveals that Tennesseans volunteered out of a sense of duty and honor--principles that were deeply embedded in the early national period. They also enlisted because of family and community expectations as well as a desire to demonstrate manhood and courage. In the process, the author provides much-needed historical and political context for the Mexican-American War. This volume treats not only Tennessee's unique role in the conflict, but also the postwar efforts by veterans to shape the war's legacy. 

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