Help with Search
Unit 7 Notes and Crash Course
by BMENET GIRUM - Saturday, November 14, 2015, 06:21 PM

Manifest Destiny

Manifest Destiny reflected the pride the people had that characterized American nationalism during the time.

  • It believed in the idea that America was destined by God and by history to expand boundaries over a vast area.

Manifest Destiny  represented more than pride in the nation’s political system.

  • Throughout the 1840’s, many American’s defended the idea of westward expansion by citing the superiority of the “American race” white people of northern European origins.

Westward expansion was therefore, a movement to spread both a political system and a racially defined society.

  • By the 1840’s, the idea of Manifest Destiny had spread throughout the nation, publicized by the new “penny press” (inexpensive newspapers aimed at mass audience), and fanned by the rhetoric of nationalist politicians.

American Texas

  • The U.S.  had once claimed Texas which until the 1830’s was part of the Republic of Mexico as part of the Louisiana Purchase, but it had renounced the claim in 1819.

  • But in the early 1820’s, the Mexican government launched an ill-advised experiment that would eventually cause it to lose its great northern province: it encouraged American immigration into Texas.

The Mexicans wanted and aspired to strengthen the economy of the territory and increase their own tax revenues.

They also liked the idea of the Americans sitting between Mexican settlement and the large and sometimes militant Indian tribes to the north.

  • An 1824 colonization law designed to attract American settlers promised the newcomers cheap land and a four year exemption from taxes.

  • By 1830, there were about 7,000 Americans living in Texas, more than twice the number of Mexicans there.

Tensions Between the United States and Mexico

  • In the mid 1830’s instability in Mexico itself drove General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna to seize power as dictator and impose a new, more conservative and autocratic regime on the nation and its territories.

A new law increased the powers of the national governments.

The Mexicans  even imprisoned Stephen Austin in Mexico City for a time, claiming that he was encouraging revolts among his fellow Americans in Texas.

  • Sporadic fighting between Americans and Mexicans in Texas began in 1835 and escalated as the Mexican government sent more troops into the territory.

  • In 1836, the American settlers defiantly proclaimed their independence from Mexico.


The control of the so called Oregon country, was one of the major political issues in the 1840’s.

  • In the 1790’s by George Vancouver, a naval officer; the Americans on the basis of simultaneous claims by Robert Gray, a fur trader.

A treaty was signed in 1818 that allowed citizens of each country equal access of the territory.

  • But American interest in Oregon grew substantially in the 1820s and 1830s.

Missionaries considered the territory an attractive target for evangelical efforts, especially after the strange appearance of four Nez Perce and Flathead Indians in St. Louis in 1831.

  • Significant numbers of white Americans began emigrating to Oregon in the early 1840’s, and they soon substantially outnumbered the British settlers there.

The Indians population decreased because of the measles epidemic that spread throughout the Cayuse.

  • The tribe blamed the Whitman mission for the plague, and in 1847 they attacked it and killed thirteen whites, including Marcus and Narcissa.

  • By the mid 1840’s American settlements had spread up and down the pacific Coast.

The Westward Migration

  • The migrations into Texas and Oregon were part of a larger movement that took hundreds and thousands of white and black Americans into the far western regions of the continent between 1840 and 1860.

Southerners flocked mainly to Texas

Most of the migrants came from the Old Northwest white men and women, and a few blacks , who undertook arduous journeys in search of new opportunities.

  • Most traveled in family groups, until the early 1850’s when the great gold rush attracted many single men and they relatively young people

  • Some particularly after the discovery of gold in California in 1848 hoped for quick riches.

Life on the Trail

  • Most migrants about 300,000 between 1840 and 1860 traveled west along the great overland trails.

The major route west was the 2,000 mile Oregon Trail, which stretched from Independence across the Great Plains and though the South Pass of the Rocky Mountains.

  • Thousands of people died on the trail of cholera during the great epidemic of the early 1850s.

  • In the years before the Civil War, fewer than 400 migrants  (about one tenth of 1 percent) died in conflicts with the tribes.

The Democrats and Expansion

During the election of 1844 both Henry Clay and Martin Van Buren were trying to avoid taking a stand on the controversial issue of the annexation of Texas.

Sentiment for expansion was mild within the Whig Party, and Clay had no difficulty securing the nomination despite his non constitutional position.

  • But by 1844 James K. Polk had been out of public office and for the most part out of the public mind for three years.

  • Polk carried the election  by 170 electoral votes to 105, although his popular majority was less than 40,000.

The Southwest and California

  • As soon as the United States admitted Texas to statehood in 1845, the Mexican government broke diplomatic relations with Washington.

Mexican- American grew still worse when a dispute developed over the boundary between Texas and Mexico.

  • Polk accepted the Texas claim, and in the summer of 1845 he sent a small army under General Zachary Taylor to Texas to protect it against a possible Mexican invasion.

  • In the 1820’s, the Mexican government had invited American traders into the region (just as it invited American settlers into Texas), hoping to speed development of the Province.

The result in all this was that many of these places such as New Mexico for example became more American than Mexican.

Americans idea of expanding and moving provinces also increased there interset as well.

The Mexican War

  • On January 13, 1846, as soon as he heard the news, polk ordered Taylor’s army in Texas to move across the Nueces River, Where it had been stationed, to the Rio Grande.

Mexicans refused to find the Americans, but it was known a few crossed the border and did so.

Polk now told Congress: “War exists by the act of Mexico herself”.

  • On May 13.1846, Congress declared war by votes  of 40 to 2 in the Senate and 174 to 14 in the House.

The war had many opponents in the United States.

The opponents claimed that Polk had settled for less than he should have because he was preoccupied with Mexico.

  • Taylor captured Monterrey in September 1846, but he let the Mexican garrison evacuate without pursuit.

Polk feared that if successful, Taylor would become a powerful political rival.

  • In the summer of 1846, a small army under Colonel  Stephen W. Kearny captured Santa Fe with no opposition.

In the autumn of 1846 he had completed the conquest of California.

  • On February 2, 1848, he reached agreement with the new Mexican government on the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo.

Treaty allowed Mexico to agree to cede California and New Mexico to the United States and acknowledge the Rio Grande as the boundary of Texas.

In return, the United States promised to assume any financial claims its new citizens had against Mexico and to pay the Mexicans $15 million.

  • The president submitted the Trist treaty to the Senate, which approved it by a vote of 38 to 14.

Slavery and the Territories

  • In August 1846, while the Mexican War was still in progress, Polk asked Congress to appropriate $2 million for purchasing peace with Mexico.

David Wilmot of Pennsylvania, an antislavery Democrat, introduced an amendment to the appropriation bill prohibiting slavery in any territory acquired from Mexico.

The so called Wilmot Proviso passed the House but failed in the Senate.

  • The debate over these various proposals dragged on for many months, and the issue remained unresolved when Polk left office in 1849.

  • The presidential campaign of 1848 dampened the controversy for a time as both Democrats and Whigs tried to avoid the slavery question.

The California Gold Rush

  • In January 1848, James Marshall, a carpenter working on one of John Sutter’s sawmills, found traces of gold in the foothills of the Sierra Nevadas.

Sutter tried to suppress the news, fearing a gold rush would destroy his own substantial empire in the region.

  • The non- Indian population increased nearly tenfold in four years: from 14,000 in 1848 to over 220,000 in 1852.


The atmosphere in California at the peak of the gold rush was one of almost crazed excitement and greed.

  • By 1856, for example, San Francisco whose population had been 1,000 before the gold rush (and at one point declined to about 100 as people left for the mines) - was the home of over 50,000 people.

  • By the early 1850s, California, which had always had a diverse population, had become remarkably heterogeneous.

Rising Sectional Tensions

Zachary Taylor believed statehood could become the solution to the issue of slavery in the territories.

  • At Taylor’s urging, California quickly adopted a constitution that prohibited slavery, and in December 1849 Taylor asked Congress to admit California as a free state.

In response, southerners demanded a stringent law that would require northern states to return fugitive slaves to their owners.

  • The number of free and slave states was equal in 1849 - fifteen each.

Tempers were now rising to dangerous levels.

In the North, every state legislature but one adopted a resolution demanding the prohibition of slavery in the territories.

The Compromise of 1850

  • Faced with this mounting crisis, moderates and unionists spent the winter of 1849-1850 trying to frame great compromise

The aging Henry Clay, who was spearheading the effort, believed that no compromise could last unless it settled all the issues in dispute between the sections.

  • As a result, he took several measures that had been proposed separately, combined them into a single piece of legislation, and presented it to the Senate on January 29, 1850.

  • The debate occurred in two phases, the differences between  which revealed much about how Americans politics was changing in the 1850s.

Clay himself, 73 years old in 1850, appealed to shared  national sentiment of nationalism.

After Calhoun came the third of the elder statesmen, 68 years old Daniel Webster, one of the great orators of his time.

  • But on July 9, 1850, Taylor suddenly died- the victim of a violent stomach disorder.

The Uneasy Truce

  • Both major parties endorsed the Compromise of 1850 in 1852, and both nominated presidential candidates identified with sectional passions.

Many of them flocked to the Free-Soil Party, whose anti slavery presidential candidate, John P. Hale, repudiated the Compromise of 1850.

The divisions among the Whigs helped produce a victory for the Democrats in 1852.

  • Northern opposition to the Fugitive Slave Act intensified quickly after 1850, when southerners began appearing occasionally in northern states to pursue people they claimed were fugitive.

  • White southerners watched with growing anger and alarm as the one element of the Compromise of 1850 that they had considered a victory seemed to become meaningless as a result of northern defiance.

Young America

  • The great liberal and nationalist revolutions of 1848 in Europe stirred them to dream of a republican Europe with governments based on the model of the United States.

They dreamed as well of expanding American commerce in the Pacific and acquiring new territories in the Western Hemisphere.

Pierce had been pursuing unsuccessful diplomatic attempts to buy Cuba and Spain(efforts begun in 1848 by Polk).

  • In 1854, however a group of his envoys sent him a private document from Ostend, Belgium, making the case for seizing Cuba by force.

When the Ostend Manifesto was leaked to the public, it enraged many antislavery northerners, who charged the administration with conspiring to bring a new slave state into the Union.

  • The kingdom of Hawaii agreed to join the United States in 1854, but the treaty died in the Senate because it contained a clause prohibiting slavery in the islands.

Slavery, Railroads, and the West

  • By the 1850s, the line of substantial white settlement had moved beyond the boundaries of Missouri, Iowa, and what is now Minnesota into a great expanse of plains, which many white Americans had once believed was unfit for cultivation.

As the nation expanded westward, the problem of communication between the older states and the areas west of the Mississippi River became more and more critical.

  • But in 1853 Davis sent James Gadsden, a southern railroad builder, to Mexico, where he persuaded the Mexican government to accept $10 million in exchange for a strip of land that today comprises part of Arizona and New Mexico.

The so-called Gadsden Purchase only accentuated the sectional rivalry.

The Kansas-Nebraska Controversy

  • Stephen A. Douglas introduced a bill in January 1854 to organize (and thus open to white settlement) a huge new territory, known as Nebraska, west of Iowa and Missouri.

Douglas knew the South would oppose the bill that was created because it lead the way to a new free state.

No piece of legislation in American history produced so many immediate, sweeping, and ominous consequences.

  • It divided and destroyed the Whig Party, which disappeared almost entirely by 1856.

  • In 1854, they formed a new organization and named it the Republican Party.

Bleeding Kansas

  • In the spring of 1855, elections were held for a territorial legislature.

There were only about 1,500 legal voters in Kansas by then, but thousands of Missourians, some traveling in armed band into Kansas, swelled the vote to over 6,000.

  • In May 1856,, Charles Sumner of Massachusetts-a militant and passionately doctrinate opponent of slavery-rose to give a speech entitled “The Crime Against Kansas”.

In the South, Preston Brooks became a hero, too. Censured by the House, he resigned his seat, returned to the South Carolina, and stood successfully for reelection.

The Pro-Slavery Argument

  • It was a result of many things: the Nat Turner uprising in 1831, which terrified southern whites and made them more determined than ever to make slavery secure.

The expansion of the cotton economy into the Deep South, which made slavery unprecedentedly lucrative; and the growth of the Garrisonian abolitionist movement, with its strident attacks on southern society.

  • Professor Thomas R. Dew of the College of William and Mary helped begin that effort in 1832.

20 years later, apologists for slavery summarized their views in anthology that gave their ideology its name: The Pro Slavery Argument.

  • John C. Calhoun stated  the essence of the case in 1837: Southerners should stop apologizing for slavery as a necessary evil and defend it as “a good-a positive good.”

It was good for the slaves, the southern apologists argued, because they enjoyed better conditions than industrial workers in the North.

Buchanan and Depression

  • In this unpromising climate, the presidential campaign of 1856 began.

The Native American, or Know- Nothing, Party was beginning to break apart, but it nominated former president Millard Fillmore, who also received the endorsement of a sad remnant of the Whig Party.

After a heated, even frenzied campaign, Buchanan won a narrow victory over Fremont and Fillmore.

  • In the year Buchanan took office, a financial panic struck the country, followed by a depression that lasted several years.

In the North, the depression strengthened the Republican Party because distressed manufacturers, workers, and farmers came to believe that the hard times were the result of the unsound policies of southern -controlled Democratic administrations.

They expressed their frustrations by moving into an alliance with antislavery elements and thus into the Republican Party.

The Dred Scott Decision

  • On March 6, 1857, the Supreme Court of the United States projected itself into the sectional controversy with one of the most controversial and notorious decisions in its history- its ruling in the case of Dred Scott v. Sandford, handed down two days after Buchanan was inaugurated.

  • In 1846, after the surgeon died, Scott sued his master’s widow for freedom on the ground that his residence in free territory had liberated him from slavery.

  • The claim was well grounded in Missouri law, and in 1850 the circuit court in which Scott filed the suit declared him free.

Deadlock over Kansas

  • As a result, the pro-slavery forces won control of the convention, which met in 1857 at Lecompton, framed a constitution legalizing slavery, and refused to give voters a chance to reject it.

The new legislature promptly submitted the Lecompton constitution to the voters, who rejected it by more than 10,000 votes.

  • Finally, in April 1858, Congress approved a compromise: The Lecompton constitution would be submitted to the voters of Kansas again.

  • Not until the closing months of Buchanan’s administration in 1861, after several southern states had already withdrawn from the Union, did Kansas enter the Union-as a free state.

The Emergence of Lincoln

  • Given the gravity of the sectional crisis, the congressional elections of 1858 took on a special importance.

At heart of the debates was basic difference on the issue of slavery.

The nation’s future, he argued (reflecting the central idea of the Republican Party), rested on the spread of free labor.

  • The party retained control of the Senate but lost its majority in the House, with the result that the congressional sessions of 1858 and 1859 were bitterly deadlocked.

Crash Course #17 War and Expansion

  • On March 13, 1836, Santa Ana defeated the American Defenders of the Alamo.

  • The Americans would remember that  and get revenge by defeating them in the battle of San Jacinto

  • Polk just managed to get presidential victory over pernell almost president Henry Clay

  • They annexed Texas in March of 1845

  • Congress made an agreement with Britain to divide up Oregon.