United States and American History: 1847

About the history of the United States in 1847, California is claimed, the Mexican-American War continues with the U.S capturing Mexico City, biography of astronomer Maria Mitchell.


--California was claimed by the U.S. through Fremont, the Navy, and 100 dragoons. This had long been an American goal.

Feb. 22 Gen. Zachary Taylor, old Rough and Ready, was ordered to stay in a defensive position in Monterrey, Mexico. Taylor regarded the decision as political because there was talk of him being a presidential contender. He decided to disobey orders. Pitting his 5,500 U.S. soldiers against Mexican general Santa Anna's 20,000 troopers, Taylor won the hard-fought battle of Buena Vista, bringing the war in the north of Mexico to an end.

Out of this decisive battle grew a legend. Capt. Braxton Bragg, a North Carolinian who had graduated from West Point, was suffering severe losses at his artillery battery. Bragg reported to Taylor, "General, I shall have to fall back with my battery or lose it." To which Taylor replied, "A little more grape, Captain Bragg." This legendary exchange was denied by all who were on hand at the time. According to L. B. Mizner, Taylor's interpreter who overheard the conversation, "when Bragg reported he would have to fall back or lose his battery, Taylor replied, 'Captain Bragg, it is better to lose a battery than a battle.'" Taylor went on to become U.S. President; Bragg went on to become a Confederate general who was promoted to serve as Jefferson Davis's military adviser.

July 1 The U.S. post office issued an adhesive 5cent stamp bearing Franklin's image and a 10cent stamp with Washington's image. Prior to this issue, postage was paid in cash and was indicated on the envelope in writing or by stamp. Mail cost 5cent per ounce to send. When a user had only a 10cent stamp, and his letter weighed an ounce or less, he cut the stamp in half.

Sept. American forces took Mexico City.

Oct. 1 Massachusetts astronomer, schoolteacher, librarian, Maria Mitchell, discovered a comet. She was awarded a gold medal for her discovery by the King of Denmark. Later Miss Mitchell was made a professor of astronomy at Vassar. Her special studies concerned sunspots, nebulae, and satellites. She was the idol of many women of that period and the 1st woman to be elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

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