Manifest Destiny

Manifest Destiny and the West
The Expansion of the USA
John Gast (1872)
American Progress
A Question
“Is this quotation from a Mexican textbook
Arguments about Manifest Destiny
• America is destined by God and history to expand
its boundaries
– Superiority of the “American race” as those already in
the territories are racially unfit to be part of the
“American” community
• Some have limited goals, others want “empire of
– Some want to use force, others want peaceful, or no
• Clay and many others feel expansion will re-open
slavery controversy, threaten stability of the Union
The Oregon Trail
American Settlement in Texas
• 1821 - Mexico wins independence from Spain,
encourages Americans to immigrate to northern MX
– Fears US will take territory, grants lands to businessmen
– 1824 law designed to attract settlers promises cheap land, four
year exemption from taxes
• Moses Austin is first to sign up, son Stephen brings
7,000 to TX by 1830
– Land sold for $.12/acre, US land is $1.25/acre
– Most are cotton farmers who bring slaves with them
• 1830 - MX closes TX border to immigration, bans new
importation of slavery, fearing US invasion
– By 1835 - 35,000 Americans and 3,000 slaves in TX
– MX banned slavery in 1830, Texans fear similar policies
Texas Revolution
• 1834 - Santa Anna takes control of Mexico, replaces state
representatives with personal appointees
– Dec. 1835 - Texan rebels capture San Antonio, declare their
independence from Mexican rule
• Feb. 1836, Santa Anna’s troops return to restore order
– Feb. 23 - March 6 - Alamo under siege, then overrun
– April 23 – Texans under Sam Houston defeats Santa Anna at
San Jacinto - kill 630 of 1,250 in 18 minutes, take rest prisoner
• May 14 - Santa Anna signs Treaties of Velasco
– Agreed to withdraw troops from TX, give TX independence in
exchange for safe travel back to MX
– Held in jail for six months, Mexico disowns him and agreement
The Texas Revolution
Texas from
• Texans set up a republic,
not recognized by MX
– Houston petitions US for
annexation but North
opposes another slave state
• Jackson/Van Buren fear a
sectional controversy, war
with Mexico
– Delay recognition until 1837
• Tyler persuades TX to
reapply for annexation,
treaty defeated in 1844
Election of 1844
• Polk wins election against Clay campaigning for
annexation of Texas and Oregon
•Clay lost NY by
5,080 votes
•Would have won
electoral vote by 7 if
he carried NY where
lost by 5,080
Polk’s Actions Toward Texas
• Polk’s campaign promises include annexation of Texas
– Tyler wins Congressional approval before leaving office
• March 28, 1845 - MX breaks diplomatic relations with
US when Polk demands that MX recognize Rio Grande
as the southern border of Texas
– Summer of 1845 - Polk sends Gen. Zachary Taylor to protect
TX from an invasion
– Also sends instructions to commander of the Pacific squadron
to seize CA ports if MX declared war
• Dec. 1845 - TX annexed, MX does not accept
• Jan 13, 1846 - Polk sends troops into disputed territory
– No clashes until according to disputed accounts, MX troops
cross Rio Grande and attack US soldiers
War with Mexico
• May 9, 1846 - Polk alerted that Mexican troops crossed
Rio Grande and attacked US troops
– “Mexico has invaded our territory and shed American blood
on American soil!”
• Congress declares war on May 13, many Whigs and
Northerners criticize the war
• Taylor’s troops enter northern Mexico, other US troops
seize New Mexico and California
– Stephen Kearny invaded NM, then moves to CA
– American settlers in CA revolted against Mexican rule
– Marines capture Monterrey in July, all of CA in US hands by
January 1847
Settlement of Oregon Country
• Polk wants to win support for
TX with settlement of OR
– U.S. before suggested division
at 49th parallel, GB refused
– Polk demands 54’40 border
with AK should be US border
• Threat of war pressures GB to
accept 49th parallel
– Agreement reached June 1846,
major settlement begins
Major Battles in the Mexican War
Ending the War with Mexico
• Feb. 1847 - Taylor’s forces clash with Santa Anna’s
troops within Mexico’s borders, force them to withdraw
• Sept. 14 - Winfield Scott’s troops capture Mexico City
• Feb. 1848 - Mexico agrees to Treaty of Guadeloupe
Hidalgo, Polk forced to accept treaty, wanted all of MX
– Mexico gives up all claims to TX, surrenders land that made
up states of CA, NV, UT, parts of AZ, CO and NM
– US pays MX $15 million, will grant citizenship to Mexicans
in new territories, respect religious beliefs and property rights
– 1853 - James Gasden buys a strip of land south of the Gila
River in AZ and NM for $10 million
Treaty of Guadeloupe Hidalgo
California Gold Rush
• 1769 - over 300,000 natives in CA, Spanish settlement
increases in 1790s
– By mid 1800s, 12,000 Californios live in mission settlements
• 1834 -MX takes mission land, gave land grants to settlers
– Around 500 American settlers in CA in 1830s
• 1839 - John Sutter gets land grant near Sacramento River
– Jan. 1848 - one of Sutter’s employees finds gold flakes at
bottom of wooden canal
• By 1849, gold seekers come from Europe, Australia
– End of May, 40,000 leave from Independence, MO
– White population in CA is 14,000 in 1848, 220,000 in 1852
Major Strikes in the Gold Rush
Chinese Laborers in California
Family Mining in California
David M. Potter on the death
of Zachary Taylor (It was…)
“one of those extraneous events which…alter
the course of history.”
Why would Potter say this?
Before he died Taylor
• Supported the admission of California as a
free state
• Was prepared to do the same with New
• Indicated his opposition to a harsh new
fugitive slave law
If this was accomplished?
• Maybe Civil War could have been averted?
• Was Taylor strong enough to get these laws
• We will never know.
Some hisorians feel
• He had assembled a coalition of Democrats, FreeSoilers and “conscience” Whigs. This may have
killed secessionist agitation
• If war began in 1850, slave holding President may
have kept more Southern states in coalition than a
Republican a decade later.
• Military experience would help him pick better
Steven Felzenberg
• “Had he lived long enough to do so, Taylor
might have spared his nation a series of
presidents who were more calculating than