The Life and Adventures of James P. Beckwourth

Primary Sources


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Beckwourth, J. The Life and Adventures of James P. Beckwourth. New York: Arno Press, 1856.

From the journal, the author points out the happenings during the era of western expansion. He remarks his experiences with the Cheyenne and Native Americans. Because he was an African-American, the Cheyenne dealt with him more comfortably. Race is a significant issue when it comes to the interaction between the Native Americans and the author. The author trades with the Cheyenne by supplying them with liquor and other necessities. The Cheyenne were a bit hesitant regarding the liquor because they were not sure of its effect to their tribe. The chief made a decision that the Cheyenne would buy his supplies. After trading with them, the author travelled between Mexico and the United States. General Kearney, the author’s good customer assessed the conflict between the United States and Mexico and decided to join forces with the U.S. He was aware that if he hesitated to join the war, he could face imprisonment from Mexico or United States. The author aspired to make a deal with the General which is one way he showed his loyalty to The U.S. Several years after the unrest, the author settled in California in Beckwourth valley where he became a trading post manager and a hotelkeeper. The author lives in this region until his death in 1866. His loyalty to United States is clear in his life. In class discussions, the journal would be very relevant. It is clear how the Indians trusted the author more than the Whites. Different journal parts would be discussed by different groups so as to totally bring out the relevance of the story and how the author’s life was affected by the unrest between Mexico and the United States.

Fremont ,John C. Report of the Exploring Expeditions to the Rocky Mountain. March of America   Facsimile. 79, Ann Arbor, MI: University Microfilms, 1966.

The author writes his observation while he was adventuring in the Rocky Mountains. In his report, the author maps settlement sites and possible trails of the people who moved to the west. The reports clearly show the land layout and his encounter with the Indians. The Indians were in the pursuit of finding food to ensure their survival by hunting a buffalo. The author was willing to help the Indians and he made a map of the west. He made assessments and surveyed the land so as to determine ho w towns would acquire the necessary resources to ensure their survival. He came up with a path that directed those who travelled to the West. The Report is essential in the classroom for the students to make relationship of their own adventures and explorations they have encountered and to show how a map is essential when travelling to new places.

O’ Sullivan, John L. (1839). “The Great Nation of Futurity.” The United States Democratic           Review, Volume 6, no. Issue 23 (2009): pp. 426-430.

The author of the article addresses the issues of setting up a government and how the people are supposed to rule the government. The author also addresses the breakdown of Americans from the crown. He expresses great hopes that Americans will enjoy great accomplishments which they are destined to acquire. He points out that Americans have to explore the news freedom they have so as to create a country that is strong. He expresses the need to fulfill the mission for organizational development and focus on unity. He emphasizes the need, for Americans to be strong to achieve a great nation. The article is applicable, in the classroom for students to relate the present time and the past while comparing the challenges the United States is facing today with the ones in the past.

Secondary Sources

Littell, McDougal. “Manifest Destiny”. Creating America. Evanstion, Illinois: McDougal Littell, 2002 390-419.

Manifest Destiny addresses the westward expansion of the United States during eighteen twenty and eighteen fifty. Westward expansion involved recruitment of mountain men to embark on the struggle to expand. During Santa Fe Trails and the Oregon, men travelled westward experiencing unimaginable struggle during the journey. President Polk emphasized the idea of Manifest Destiny and was supported by these men and some other Americans. The idea suggested more land for the Americans with many of them moving west being influenced by eighteen forty nine gold rush boosting the westward expansion. The mining of gold in the Mexican territory made people to move there because of financial benefits they were deriving. Mormon travelled to gain religious freedom. The chapter gives insight to the many struggles endured by people during the westward expansion. People moved towards west driven by different motives and to pursue different goals. The chapter of Manifest Destiny aids students to gain insight and understanding of the struggles and the journey experienced during the westward expansion. The source gives a historic perspective through group discussions and individual answering of questions so as to become conversant with history of America.


Tindall, George Brown, and David Emory Shi. “Manifest Destiny”, America: a Narrative             History. Edited by Jon Durbin. Vol. 8. New York, New York: W.W. Norton and         Company, 2010. 157-188

The authors use the chapter to address the American Manifest Destiny. The key issues addressed are Mexican  War, Its  effects, Texas  Republic and Nationalism. Manifest Destiny and nationalism were significant concepts during eighteen forties. The period involves creation of new policies by President Tyler which led to development of higher tariffs by the national bank. Citizens emphasized that the land they lived on belonged to the United States and were unaware in was Mexicans. Mexico was antislavery and had very strong legislations. The citizens engaged in agricultural practices such as growing cotton by use of slaves as a source of labor. This triggered conflicts in Mexico as it advocated for antislavery. This led to increase of illegal immigrants in the U.S resulting to the Alamo. The United States were much focused to acquire land equivalent to present states of Texas, New Mexico and California. They engaged in several negotiations that failed leading to the Alamo unrest in eighteen thirty six which is considered as a Texan Revolution. Texans had evicted the Mexican troops prior to the battle from Mexico-Texas. Eventually, the war was won by the United States gaining land from northern part of Rio Grande. Later, Texas was made an independent State. The war saw United States gaining a larger territory but it formed the bases of questioning the ethical implications of using slaves in United States. The source provides insight of what happened during the period giving  students an overview of the struggles  encountered from eighteen thirty to eighteen sixties. The source is essential and can be read while addressing the critical issues on experience of the Americans during the period.


Pinheiro, John C. Manifest Ambition: James K. Polk and Civil-Military Relations During the        Mexican War. In war and in peace. Westport, Connecticut: Praeger Security               International, 2007.World Cat

The author explores the unstable relationship between the American military and political authorities during the time the nation experienced the first foreign war. The author points out the supporters and opposers during the war when there was a conflict in South Texas during the spring of eighteen forty six and occupation of Mexico after eighteen months. The book addresses the distaste of professional armies and federal government’s limited resources. The Polk administration was faced with many obstacles due to unexpected prolonged conflict with the .Mexicans. The book is applicable in the classroom through the use of sections addressing the war and Polk administration. The clash between Polk and soldiers during the war is well illustrated. The book could be used as a reference tool on the Mexican War.  It helps the students to gain understanding of the American History and help to make comparisons of the present United States and the past.


Hernández, Sonia. “The Legacy of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo on Tejanos’ Land.” Journal of Popular Culture 35, no. 2 (Fall2001 2001): 101. Academic   Search Premier,             EBSCOhost

The author of the article focuses on Mexico during the sighing of the treaty.  The aftermath of the war is addressed pointing out the civil rights violation and taking away of land. The conflicts surrounding the ratifying of the Guadalupe Hidalgo Treaty where United States failed to sign it. United States decided to ratify the treaty with Article X being left out. Polk imagined the article was very significant as it protected the land grants in Texas. The author addresses the cultural conflicts and land scarcity after the war. There were claims taken to organizations and court to address the issues of land. The article is essential in classroom as a students hand out. It is also applicable as a reference of the ratification of the treaty, aftermath of the war and the injustices that surrounded the land.


Norman A. Graebner,“ Occupied America: A History of Chicano,”in Taking Sides,Clashing          Views on Controversial Issues in American History the Colonial Period to      Reconstruction, ed. Larry Madaras and James M. SoRelle, 273-281 (Dubuque: McGraw-          Hill/Dushkin, 2005

The author argues that Polk was involved in forcing the Mexico to surrender New Mexico and California to U.S and points out the significance of Texas annexation. Polk’s administration drafted policies assuming that Mexico had a debt and threatened it with war. He assumed that they would avoid invasion by Americans and surrender the provinces peacefully. Texas Annexation was supposed to aid in formulation of policies by the administration towards Mexico. Polk assumed that Mexico was undiplomatic and triggered the war. Several political aspects surrounded the Polk administration due to the Mexican land. In Classroom, the source is crucial in addressing Polk administration and the policies they used to gain land. Student is equipped with a historic perspective regarding the U. S and could give individual opinions regarding the events.

Rodolfo Acuna, “ The Mexican War: A study in Causation,” in Taking Sides, Clashing Views     on Controversial Issues in American History the Colonial Period to Reconstruction, ed.         Larry Madaras and James M. SoRelle, 260-272 (Dubuque: McGraw-Hill/Dushkin, 2005)

The author discusses that Americans utilized the opportunity when the Mexican Government was young and unstable by starting aggressive and unjust war. They were focused to attain their land as a mean of westward expansion. Several conflicts arose between the Mexicans and Anglo- Texans and the tension during Texas annexation. The author points out the reason why Mexico was weak being the division of the nation and distant government as a source of power. Conquest Rationalization and Monroe Doctrine geared to stopping colonization is addressed. The doctrine could not stop U.S from engaging in the war. Religious differences characterized the war with Catholics being so evil. Race issues facilitated the unrest with Americans regarding themselves as dominant race. The author addresses the Hispanics views regarding the war. The source is applicable in class to show the different responses towards the war and help students to air their own view inform of a debate.


“Lester, S.Levy collection of sheet music.” Milton S Eisenhower Library, John Hopkins     University, Copyright 2010, (Accessed       October, 31st 2010)

The music collection has twenty nine hundred pieces of different music from seventeen eighties to nineteen eighties. The music addresses several themes which include transport, romance and military conflicts. Throughout history, there has been an evolution of music and the website can be used in classroom for students to appreciate the music transformation throughout the centuries, Students can  try to generate a theme in which a particular song addresses by rewriting the lyrics.

“Oregon Trail”: Mike Trinklein and Steve Boettcher, Idaho State University Copyright 2010,    (Accessed October, 31st 2010)

The website is an aid for teachers where details are given regarding the Oregon Trail. The website has narrations from the settlers. It gives the States involved in the trail and the forts to supply food and other necessities for the occupants. The stopping points later became towns. From the website, one is able to access the documents from the settlers. Narcissa Whitemen diary and Mollie Zemmer letters as travelers of the trail are accessed. Class usage can involve narrations from the settlers regarding their experiences on the trail and is applicable for research projects.


Battle of the Alamo

Moran Percy (1912). Battle of the Alamo, photomechanical print, color. Library of Congress,   

The image highlights the struggle experienced by American soldiers while defending the fort. The image shows children and women hiding during the fight.  This shows ho w vulnerable children and women are in times of war. The left side shows Mexican soldiers attacking Americans. It is crucial for students to understand interpretation of artists even after an event has happened many years ago. The interpretation of the image by students equips them with aesthetic skills. They are able to recognize the seriousness of the battle and are able to know that war is not a way out.

Sarony & Major. (1847). Gallant charge of the Kentuckians at the Battle of Buena Vista, Feb.        23rd 1847, and complete defeat of the Mexicans, lithograph, hand-colored, 1847, Library    of Congress,

The image shows the army of U.S facing the Mexican army and portrays success of the Americans because more Mexican soldiers are dead than those of America. It can be used as a tool to illustrate to the students the aspects of the war and help them understand clearly. They are able to recognize the strategies used and even appreciate the role of soldiers.


Unknown Author, Rough and Ready: The Soldier’s Story, piano and voice. Johns

Hopkins University, Levy Sheet Music Collection, Box 004, Item 107

The song emphasizes the struggle of those involved in the war. Several risks were undertaken to gain victory. The man referred to as Monterey, a soldier, was brave and strong and was frightened by absolutely nothing. He was strong and was looked upon by others. It is applicable in class to demonstrate the qualities needed to become a successful soldier for those students who want to pursue the career. The unshakable soldier could be used to figuratively represent the U.S during the war. Students are able to appreciate the role of literature e in preserving the history of a nation.

Cooledge, N. “The Death of Majr. Ringgold, Who Fell at the Battle of Palo Alto on the       8th of   May, 1846”. Johns Hopkins University, Levy Sheet Music Collection, Box 86, Item 27

The song addresses the gallant American officer, Major Ringgold. The Major was wounded fatally during the Mexican American war near Rio Grande in eighteen forty six. The song points out the many people who were  astonished by the death of Major Ringgold. The song emphasize on the effect of war and the pain they experienced. It is applicable in the class room to show the significance of the battle and the aftermath. It could help the students think deeply to try to interpret the figurative use of the Major. The major could represent the Mexican s that lost the battle to the Americans and their lands taken. The pain they felt is compared to the death of a loved one. This shows the significance of the battle and shows how songs can help to preserve major historic events.


John Wayne, dir., “The Alamo with John Wayne, Richard Widmark and Laurence Harvey”          (Hollywood, CA; MGM studio 1960)

The movie shows the events of eighteen thirty six where General Santa Anna together with the Mexican army were involved in Texas. General Sam Houston was gathering tactic to attack the parties in Texas. He orders Colonel William to undertake a small mission in the Mexican route. The colonel is accompanied by Davy Crockett and Jim Bowie to boost their mission. The colonel wants the small troop to leave the scenario because it has become risky and desperate for them. The movie illustrates the challenges faced by the United States army. It is applicable in class to offer a historical perspective to students and portray the real challenges involved in Alamo war and misperception associated with it.

Hancock John dir. (2004). “Remember the Alamo”.  Retrieved on October 31st 2010 from

The movie captures the details of the battle of Alamo. American soldiers are outweighed by the Mexican being sandwiched in a stronghold. Many American s die when they are attacked. The movie shows although the U.S won, they as well suffered many casualties. The villain is a Mexican General Santa Ana who mistreats the prisoners and sacrifices soldiers. The movie serves as an inspiration for the American troops overseas involved in war. For the students, the movie gives a reality of what happened during the war. Success did not come on a silver platter but many lives were lost in the pursuit

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