Themes in U.S. History
The population of California in 1845 consisted of Spanish-Mexicans and Indians.
Four nations claimed Oregon Country at one time: Spain, Russia, Britain, and the United States. Spain dropped out of America with the Florida Treaty of 1819 and Russia dropped out with the treaties of 1824 and 1825.
Britain controlled the portion north of the Columbia River. By 1846, about 5,000 Americans settled south of the Columbia River. The British had a lesser population but it did not want to give up its claims to the Columbia River. The disputed territory in Oregon Country became an issue in the election of 1844.
Politics and Citizenship
Both Whigs, Daniel Webster, as secretary of state, and Henry Clay, the king of the Whigs and their ablest spokesman in the Senate, were set to control the Presidency. Before Henry Harrison's first term, he contracted pneumonia. Only 4 weeks into the term, he died. This hampered Webster and Clay plan.
John Tyler- Vice President to Henry Harrison; successor as President following Harrison's death; "Tyler too"; a Democrat at heart and contradicted many of the Whig Party ideas; vetoes Banks of United States; lowered tariff.
When the Whig Party came to power in the presidency, many changes came about. The first one was financial reform. The independent treasury system was ended. A bill for a "Fiscal Bank," which would establish a new Bank of the United States went through Congress, but President Tyler vetoed it. The Whigs presented a "Fiscal Corporation" but the president again vetoed it.
President Tyler was rejected by his former Whig Party.
Tyler signed the Tariff of 1842 which was a protective Whig tariff.
Texas became a leading issue in the presidential campaign of 1844. The Democrats were pro-expansion and were for annexing Texas.
President Tyler signed a resolution in 1845 that invited Texas to become the 28th state in America.
In the election of 1844, the Whig party chose Henry Clay, and the Democrats chose James K. Polk. James K. Polk was the Speaker of the House of Representatives for four years and governor of Tennessee for two terms. He beat Henry Clay to win the election of 1844; "Young Hickory"; said he would protect Texas; he avoided the issue of slavery.
In the 1840s and 1850s, many Americans felt that God had "manifestly" destined the American people to spread their democratic institutions over the entire continent and over South America as well.
Democrats strongly supported the idea of Manifest Destiny.
Henry Clay straddled the issue whether or not to annex Texas.
Polk had four main goals for his presidency -
1. A lower tariff.
Robert J. Walker- Secretary of Treasury to James Polk; devised the Walker Tariff of 1846, a tariff-for-revenue bill that reduced the rates of the Tariff of 1842 from 32% to 25%.
2. The second goal of Polk was to restore the independent treasury, which the Whigs dropped in 1841 because the Whigs won the presidency.
3./4. The third and fourth goals of Polk were the acquisition of California and the settlement of the Oregon dispute without violence. Britain presented Polk with the Oregon Country up to 490. The offer was approved and a reasonable compromise was reached without a shot fired.
David Wilmot- proposed the amendment that stated that the territory from Mexico should remain slave-free. This Wilmot Amendment never passed the Senate because the Southern members did not want to be robbed of possible slave states to arise in the future from the land gain in the Treaty of Guadalupe.
Slavery and Its Legacies in North America
In 1841, British officials in the Bahamas offered asylum to 130 Virginia slaves who had rebelled and captured the American ship Creole.
War and Diplomacy
During the 19th Century, there was much hatred of Britain. This sparked the "Third War with England." This war was only fought with paper broadsides.
In 1837, the American ship, the Caroline, was sunk by a British force. Washington officials made ineffective protests against the attack.
In 1842, the British wanted to build a road westward from the seaport of Halifax to Quebec, running through disputed territory. The London Foreign Office sent Lord Ashburton to Washington to settle the dispute. He and Daniel Webster negotiated and gave the Americans 7,000mi2 of the 12,000mi2 of land in dispute.
In the 8 years since 1836, Mexico considered Texas as a province in revolt and refused to recognize Texas's independence. Mexico threatened war if the America protected Texas.
Texas made treaties with France, Holland, and Belgium. Britain wanted to have relations with Texas because Britain could try to make Texas tear America apart. Britain wanted Texas as an independent ally.
Polk wanted to buy California (The Bear Flag Republic) from Mexico but relations with Mexico were poor due to the annexation of Texas.
John Slidell- due to rumors of Britain preparing to buy California, was sent to Mexico City in 1845 by Polk to buy California for $25 million-the offer was rejected.
On January 13, 1846, Polk ordered 4,000 men under General Zachary Taylor to the Rio Grande. On May 9, 1846, Polk asked Congress to declare war on Mexico of the basis of unpaid claims and Slidell's rejection of the purchasing of California. Rather, Mexican troops attacked American troops that night and war was declared.
Polk wanted California, not war. But when the war came, he hoped that America could pull out with California.
Generals in Mexican-American War:
General Stephen W. Kearny- led 1,700 troops to Santa Fe.
General Zachary Taylor- won many victories including a great victory over a large Mexican force at Buena Vista; future President
General Winfield Scott- succeeded in battling his way up to Mexico City by September 1847; 1st choice of President Abraham Lincoln to lead the Union army in the Civil War.
Nicholas P. Trist- chief clear of the State Department; signed the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo on February 2, 1848.
The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo gave Texas to America and yielded the area stretching westward to Oregon and the ocean, including California, for a cost of $15 million. Southerners realized that the South would do well not to want all of Mexico because Mexico was anti-slavery. The treaty was opposed by those who wanted all of Mexico and those who wanted none of it.
The Mexican War provided field experience for the officers destined to become generals in the Civil War, including Captain Robert E. Lee and Lieutenant Ulysses S. Grant.
The Mexican War brought about the conflict of slavery between the states.