Mexican Cession (1848)

Lesson Plan

The Mexican-American war ended with Mexico giving up a million acres of land to the United States. In this lesson, students learn about Americans’ drive to expand west, tensions between the U.S. and Mexico, and President James Polk’s actions that started a war between the two countries. This lesson also includes the Gadsen Purchase of 1853. 


  • Illustrate the disputed area claimed by both Mexico and the United States.
  • Draw the U.S.-Mexico border described in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo.
  • Draw the U.S.-Mexico border after the Gadsen Purchase.
  • Identify Mexican states and territories the U.S. acquired.
  • Use compass directions, lines of latitude, and meridians to draw features on a map.