Territorial expansion dominated American diplomacy and politics in the 1840’s.Expansionism aggravated relations with both Mexico and Britain. And when Americansbegan casting covetous eyes on Mexico’s northern most province, the great prize ofCalifornia, open warfare erupted between the U.S. and Mexico.Victory over Mexico added vast new domains to the U.S., but it also raised thornyquestions about the status of slavery in the newly acquired territories – questions thatwould be settled in blood in the Civil War of the 1860’s.
THE ACCESSION of “TYLER TOO” William Henry Harrison won the election of 1840, but he died one month after his inauguration. Webster & Clay, leaders in the Whig Party, had viewed Harrison as an impressive figurehead. The “Tyler Too” part of the Whig ticket now claimed the spotlight.
John Tyler was a former Senator from Virginia, who was added to the Harrison ticket to entice thevote of the southern states who advocated states-rights. He was accused of being a “Democrat inWhig clothing,” and Tyler was opposed by the Whig leaders, Clay and Webster.Tyler, as president, proved to be more Democrat than Whig. He opposed most of the Whigs majorpositions: 1. Whigs were pro-BUS Tyler was against the BUS 2. Whigs favored a protective tariff Tyler opposed a high tariff 3. Whigs were pro-internal improvements Tyler was a strict constructionistThe biggest rift between Tyler and the Whig leadership was over the BUS. The Whigs wanted to re-establish the National Bank, but Tyler vetoed the measure on constitutional grounds. Tyler wasostracized by the Whigs, and the House considered impeachment. Tyler’s entire cabinet resigned,except Webster.After vetoing one tariff bill, Tyler reluctantly signed a compromise tariff in 1842.
A WAR of WORDS with BRITAINHatred of Britain during the 19th century came to a head periodically. Identify thecomponents of the anti-British passions.Describe the Caroline attack and the Creole incident as enflaming relations betweenBritain and the U.S.
MANIPULATING the MAINE MAPSAn explosive controversy of the early 1840’s involved the Maine boundary dispute.Describe the dispute and how it nearly led to war.
London sent Lord Ashburton to negotiate with Secretary of State Daniel Webster. Theresult of these negotiations was the Webster-Ashburton Treaty of 1842. What were themain provisions of the agreement? What was the overlooked bonus? Lord Ashburton
TEXASDuring the eight years since 1836, Texas had led a precarious existence. Mexico, refusingto recognize Texas’s independence, regarded the Lone Star Republic as a province inrevolt, to be re-conquered in the future. Mexican officials threatened war if Americaannexed it. Rebuffed by the U.S., what moves was Texas forced to protect itself from a hostile Mexico? Why was Britain so interested in an independent Texas? Why did this worry the U.S.? The Texas “issue” became the dominant issue in the 1844 presidential election.
A MANDATE (?) for MANIFEST DESTINYThe presidential election of 1844 featured the Democrat “dark horse” candidate, JamesPolk and the Whig leader, Henry Clay. Describe Polk’s personal and political profile.Polk ran on a platform supporting the annexation of Texas – how did Clay hurt hiselection chances? Polk wins by advocating manifest destiny – explain this emotional sense of mission. The lame-duck President Tyler interpreted Polk’s victory as a mandate for expansion. In 1845, Congress, with pressure from Tyler, asked Texas to join the Union. What was Mexico’s reaction?
The spirit of manifest destiny swept the nation in the 1840’s. The flood of Americansettlers westward would create problems with Britain and Mexico.
For settlers swept westward by Manifest Destiny, it was a long and dangerous journey.
THE POLK ADMINISTRATIONPresident Polk developed a four-point program that he achieved within four years. Hisfirst goal was to lower the tariff. The subsequent Tariff of 1846 was devised byTreasury Secretary Robert Walker. It lowered average tariff rates from 32% to 25%. A second objective of Polk was the restoration of the independent treasury, which was re-established in 1846.
THE OREGON QUESTIONAnother goal of President Polk was resolution of the the disputed Oregon Territory, avast expanse of land claimed by both the U.S. and Britain. In the 1840’s more Americanswere settling into Oregon. The Treaty of 1818 had called for the joint occupation of the Oregon Territory, but the influx of Americans posed a clear threat to the British. Why did they choose to negotiate with the U.S., rather than fight for the disputed area?
The U.S. govt. had repeatedly offered the 49th parallel as the northern boundary, but theBritish had repeatedly spurned this compromise line. Expansionist Democrats called for“54-40 or fight,” but Polk supported the compromise line. Why did the British decideto accept the compromise line that they had so often rejected? Thus, in 1846, the49th parallel was approved by the U.S. Senate.
MISUNDERSTANDINGS with MEXICOThe last of Polk’s four primary goals was the acquisition of California. Why did Polk and hissupporters covet California?Polk wanted to buy California from Mexico, but what were the sources of friction between thetwo nations that soured relations?What rumor concerned the American govt. regarding California that created a sense of urgencyin the U.S.? How did Polk respond? How did the Mexican govt. respond?
AMERICAN BLOOD on AMERICAN (?) SOILIn January, 1846, what move did Polk make to provoke a showdown with Mexico?How did the Mexicans react? What was Polk’s next move?How did war with Mexico begin? What was the basis of Whig opposition? Did Polk provoke war? How were both sides inspired by moral indignation?
THE MASTERING of MEXICODescribe Polk’s war goals. How did he get duped by Santa Anna?
How successful were U.S. military operations? Who emerged as the war heroes for theU.S.? Gen. Zachary Taylor Gen. Winfield Scott
When the initial battles along the border did not induce the Mexicans to negotiate, Polkordered the army to seize the northern territories of Mexico, hoping these losses wouldforce the Mexican govt. to negotiate.
Initially, many Americans took pride in their country’s new-found military prowess,despite the questionable tactics employed by Polk. But as expectations of a quick victoryevaporated and casualties mounted, the “politics of war” burdened Polk.
FIGHTING MEXICO for PEACEPolk was eager to end the war as soon as possible so he could secure his territorial gains.He dispatched Nicholas Trist to negotiate with Santa Anna.
Explain the course of events involving Trist. Regarding the negotiated Treaty of GuadalupeHidalgo, identify its key provisions. Did the treaty experience “smooth sailing” in theSenate?
PROFIT and LOSS in MEXICOAs wars go, was the Mexican War a large or small one? How did most U.S.soldiers die during the war? Identify the “pluses” gained by America from thewar. Identify the “negatives” for the nation following the war. Describe theWilmot Amendment and its significance. Rep. Wilmot