MANIFEST DESTINY AND THE MEXICAN WAR

AMERICA AT MID-CENTURY

READING ASSIGNMENT

Tindall chapters 11 and 14

TERMS TO KNOW

Abolitionism:  Reform movement of first half of 19th century, which called for an immediate end to slavery
William Lloyd Garrison: best know and most vocal northern abolitionist, from Massachusetts, and editor of the abolitionist newspaper, The Liberator.
"Gag Rule" - Policy in Congress from 1836 to 1845 which forbade the reading in the Congress of petitions which urged the abolition of slavery.
Liberty Party - Political Party of the 1840's which supported the abolition of slavery.  Ran James G. Birney as a candidate for president in 1844,which cost Henry Clay the electoral votes of New York State, and gave the election victory to James K. Polk
Manumission:  Process by which a slave owner frees his slaves in his will, upon his death.  Used by Thomas Jefferson, among other.  Later banned by most of the slaves states.  
'A Positive Good'  - the idea that slavery helped Negroes live decent lives in the South, where their owners took care of them from cradle to grave, and that slaves were better cared for than Northern factory workers.
'The Peculiar Institution' - Slavery
Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass: leading Black voices for ending slavery.    
Underground Railroad: escape route designed to aid fugitive slaves to escape to free territory in the North  
Harriet Beecher Stowe: author of Uncle Tom's Cabin.

SAMPLE TEST QUESTIONS

Who was the founder of the Liberator?

What was the Underground Railroad?

Why was slavery the "peculiar institution?"

MANIFEST DESTINY

James K. Polk may have been unknown outside of the state of Tennessee in 1844, but his opponent for the presidency, Henry Clay, who had mocked the choice of the Democrats as an unknown, was soon to find out.  Whereas Clay was unclear on his stand on the expansion of slavery, Polk was a pro-slavery supporter.  When the hard  anti-slavery voters threw their support to the Liberty Party candidate, James Birney, instead of to the waffling Clay, Polk was able to carry New York's electoral votes and win the White House.  Had Clay not waffled on slavery, he would have won New York's electoral votes and the presidency.   President Polk was dedicated to the expansion of the United States, and in the end, his objectives were met.  By 1848, at the time of his departure from office after only one term, the United States had added the disputed area of Texas, California, half of the Oregon Territory and the Mexican Cession Territory to the nation's land mass.  Unfortunately, the issue of slavery expansion into the new territory became the issue upon which the nation would flounder, and civil war would break out.

ABRAHAM LINCOLN AND THE MEXICAN WAR

Abraham Lincoln, a longtime supporter of Henry Clay, served one term as a Whig Congressman, 1846-48, from his Illinois district around Springfield. At the beginning of the Mexican War, many Whigs had doubts about the war, but few risked having their loyalty questioned. Only two senators and fourteen congressmen voted against raising volunteers. Lincoln had not gone to Washington as a congressman when war got underway, but he supported the war. Others, especially from the Northeast, saw the Mexican War as a war of expansion and a war of slavery expansion. Fighting had ended by the time Lincoln arrived in Washington for the 30th Congress in December of 1847.

Negotiations to end the war dragged on, and to many it seemed that President Polk was ready to try and grab all of Mexico, presumably for the expansion of slavery, even though the institution did not exist there. Representative Lincoln introduced to Congress a series of resolutions designed to embarrass the president by forcing him to admit that Mexico and not the U.S. had jurisdiction over the spot where blood was first shed. When Polk had delivered his war message he had claimed that AAmerican blood had been shed on American soil.@ Lincoln questioned whether Mexico had jurisdiction over the spot where blood was shed, and if they did, they had the right to eject American soldiers from their soil. Thus Polk had provoked war by placing soldiers on Mexican soil in order to achieve some greater objective, such as expanding slavery.

Lincoln always voted in favor of appropriations bills to support the troops in the field, but his Aspot resolutions@ brought him under political attack, both from Democrats and those who had served the nation in combat. Virtually no Whigs stood up to defend him from attack. Lincoln was said to have Aspotted fever@ and this would not serve him well in a state where support for the war ran deep. With the war finally brought to a conclusion without annexation of all of Mexico, Lincoln=s Aspot resolutions@ became a victim of bad timing.

Lincoln=s other major legislative impact was a bill he proposed which would end slavery in the nation=s capital. The bill never was submitted to Congress because Lincoln found no support for his measure. Expected support from abolitionists never materialized because Lincoln was willing to include a stronger fugitive slave law with his bill, which left his plans with no support from any corner in Congress. After his departure from Washington, Congress did end the slave trade in the capital as part of the Compromise of 1850, though slavery itself continued to exist.

Lincoln left office as planned after one term, but could point to his support for internal improvements, opposition to reduction of the protective tariff, and his support for the Wilmot Proviso to prevent the extension of slavery, all issues important to his constituents in Illinois and Northern Whig politics. He was able to overcome the bad timing of the Aspot resolutions@ and continue his political career in the 1850's when he ran against Stephen Douglas for the United States Senate. The Whigs lost Lincoln=s congressional seat to the Democrats in 1848, even though their presidential candidate, General Zachary Taylor, won election to the White House.

READING ASSIGNMENT

Tindall, Chapter 13

TERMS TO KNOW

Texas War for Independence - 1836 war for independence from Mexico
The Alamo - old Catholic mission in San Antonio, site of best know battle in Texas War for Independence, where patriot garrison was wiped out to the last man by Mexican forces led by Santa Anna.  Santa Anna later commanded Mexican forces during the Mexican War
Lone Star Republic  - Independent nation of Texas which existed from 1836 when Texas fought and won its fight for independence, until it was annexed as a slave state by the U.S. in 1845.
Sam Houston - led Texas to independence, then president of the Lone Star Republic, and later first governor of Texas
Spot Resolutions
Winfield Scott  and Zachary Taylor - best known American Army commanders during the Mexican War.  Scott captured Mexico City, Taylor fought successfully in northern Mexico, just south of the Rio Grande river.
Nicholas Trist - American negotiator who travelled with Winfield Scott's army to Mexico City, in order to negotiate an end to the Mexican War  
Election of 1844 - Polk (Democrat) defeated Clay (Whig) thanks to Birney's siphoning of abolitionist votes away from Clay in New York State.
"The Re-annexation of Texas and the Re-occupation of Oregon"  - James K. Polk's campaign slogan for the presidency in 1844, a campaign committed to American territorial expansion (Manifest Destiny) 
Treaty of Guadaloupe Hidalgo - treaty which ended the Mexican War on a favorable basis for the United States, and forced Mexico to cede large amounts of land to the U.S.
Nueces River and Rio Grande River
James Slidell
Wilmot Proviso
AFifty-Four Forty or Fight@
Webster-Ashburton Treaty
Aroostock Valley
Gadsden Purchase - Purchase completed in 1853 in which the U.S. forced Mexico to sell land (which today is part of southern Arizona and southern New Mexico), primarily for land with which to build a transcontinental railroad.  Last land added to what is today commonly called the contiguous forty-eight states, or continental United States.

SAMPLE TEST QUESTIONS

Who sponsored the ASpot Resolutions?@

Which famous Civil War generals fought in the Mexican War?

Which general captured Mexico City to effectively the Mexican War?

What event caused the breakout of the Mexican War?

What was the campaign slogan of Polk in the 1844 presidential race?

How did the Liberty Party cause the victory of Polk in 1844 over Henry Clay?

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