Next Week in History: 4 Events and the Research Topics to Teach Them
Here is a rundown of four interesting historical events that occurred May 13-19 and some related Research Topic pages that can help you bring them to your classroom.
May 13, 1846: The U.S. Declares War on Mexico.
In 1845, after annexing the independent Republic of Texas (which Mexico claimed), President James K. Polk made a play for the land to the south of Texas up to the Rio Grande. When Mexico rebuffed Polk’s offer to purchase the land, U.S. troops moved into the area, where some were attacked by Mexican forces. Polk then requested that Congress declare war, which it did, and the Mexican-American War was on. After nearly two years of fighting, the result was American victory and Mexican humiliation. In the Treaty of Hidalgo, Mexico ceded the land that encompasses modern-day California, Nevada, Utah and Arizona and parts of several other states (and disputed Texas), fulfilling Polk’s general desire for American expansion. The outcome was also a win for Democrats, who had sought an expansion of slavery into new territories, and this exacerbation of the slavery issue helped put the U.S. on the path to civil war.
Associated Research Topics: James K, Polk
, Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna
, Winfield Scott
, Texas Revolution
May 13, 1981: Pope John Paul II Is Shot.
While traveling through crowds into the Vatican’s St. Peter’s Square in his “Popemobile,” John Paul II was shot by a Turkish fascist named Mehmet Ali Agca. He suffered severe injuries to his intestines—he lost three-fourths of his blood—but was saved by hours of surgery. He later forgave and visited his attacker in jail. Though he had been pope only a few years, John Paul had already made a trip that would have a huge impact on history. His visit to his native Poland in 1979 inspired the Solidarity union movement, which, in turn, started the tide that led to the fall of communism in Eastern Europe a decade later. After John Paul died in 2005, the world’s gaze was fixed on the Vatican as it elected a new pope for the first time in more than 26 years, the completion of which was indicated by the century-and-a-half-old tradition of white smoke billowing from a chimney.
Associated Research Topics: Solidarity
, Revolutions of 1989
, Papal Election
May 15, 1942: Women Are Allowed into Noncombat Military Duties.
With U.S. forces scattered around the globe fighting World War II, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed legislation for the creation of the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps to assist the Army with clerical, driving, baking and medical duties. It was the first time that women were allowed to participate in military activities in an official capacity. Women’s role expanded and the WAAC became the WAC--the Women’s Army Corps—following the passage of legislation to allow full enlistment and commissioning of women. Other women’s military organizations would follow, and in 1948 the Women’s Armed Services Integration Act cleared the way for women to serve as regular members of the military. For more than 70 years, women were not officially allowed to serve in combat roles, but the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq saw women getting involved in the fight. Finally, in 2016 women were cleared for combat duty.
Associated Research Topics: Women's Army Corps
, Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs)
May 18, 1804: Napoleon Makes Himself Emperor of France.
After become a hero during the French Revolution, staging a coup to make himself French consul and attaining success in the French Revolutionary Wars, Napoleon sought to further consolidate his power. Spurred by public support and pointing to assassination plots against him, Napoleon declared France to be an empire modeled after Rome, and the Senate granted him the title of emperor. In a later referendum, 99% of voters approved the new system and the elevation of his status. He then launched into a number of conflicts against various coalitions of European powers to settle scores left over from the French Revolutionary Wars. Collectively, theses were known as the Napoleonic Wars. Somewhat ironically, Napoleon’s rise to supreme ruler and the subsequent wars that bear his name allowed the spread in Europe of many of the ideals of the French Revolution, including democracy and limits on the power of monarchs.
The Battle of Waterloo ended the Napoleonic Wars and the career of one of the most consequential and controversial figures in European history.
Associated Research Topics: Battle of Waterloo
, Napoleonic Wars
, French Revolution
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