Despite its Current Obscurity today, overshadowed by higher-voltage conflicts such as the Civil War and World War II, the U.S.–Mexican War was an almost unqualified triumph for the United States. In terms of military and geopolitical goals, the United States far exceeded even its own expectations. As well as scoring some pretty impressive victories, up to and including storming Mexico City, the United States succeeded in the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which concluded the war, to annex huge tracts of land from Mexico for what was even then a bargain-basement price: more than half of Mexico's territory (including Texas, California, New Mexico, Arizona, and significant chunks of Colorado, Nevada, and Utah) for only fifteen million dollars. The advantage of this deal to the newly expanded United States became clearer as only a year after the treaty was signed gold was discovered in California and, within two decades, there was also a thriving silver-mining industry in Nevada.
At the time, of course, the war was huge news. The U.S.–Mexican War generated innumerable items of propaganda and related material. As Ronnie C. Tyler has shown, a huge market in chromolithographs of the war emerged, representing “bravery, nobility, and patriotism” (2). The leading lithographers of the day, such as Nathaniel Currier, Carl Nebel, and James Baillie, sold thousands of oversized lithographs of battle scenes, war heroes, and sentimental themes (Baillie's Soldier's Adieu and Currier's The Sailor's Return were particular favorites). Even more numerous were written and performed reports of the war, from the hundreds of newspaper reports from the front to dime novels, songs, poems, broadsheets, plays, and minstrel shows, as well as the typical 19th-century round of essays, sermons, and oratory.