Crisis of the Union

Chapter 13 Notes
Election of 1844
Three states affected by the election
 California,
Texas requested to be annexed in 1836
 Opposed
Texas, and Oregon
by northern abolitionists and British diplomats
“Oregon Fever” led by residents of Ohio Valley
and Great Lakes region.
 Desire
to kick out British in Oregon Terr. and demanded
54’ 40” as southern limit of Russian Alaska.
Election of 1844 (cont.)
John Tyler wanted to be re-elected as a Whig –
but they were displeased with him as he rejected
Clay’s American System. Becomes Democrat
 Tyler proposes annexation of Texas and seizure
of Oregon Terr. up to 54’ 40”
 Van Buren (Dem) and Clay (Whig) are opposed
to the annex of Texas.
 Treaty
is defeated and spurs debate for election of
Election of 1844 (cont.)
Democrats don’t choose Tyler or Van Buren as
 Instead
they choose slave owner and former governor of
Tennessee James K. Polk. (“Young Hickory”)
Polk desires annex of Texas and Oregon
 “54’
40 or Fight” is campaign cry
Once again Clay is Whig candidate
Liberty Party select James G. Birney
 Birney
takes votes from Clay in NY. Turns election for Polk
Mexican-American War
Mexico had struggled since gaining independence
from Spain in 1821.
When the Texas Republic accepted statehood in
1845, Mexico broke off diplomatic relations with US.
Polk, an expansionist, uses this as opportunity to send
troops to disputed region of Texas/Mexico
Simultaneously he sends John Slidell to Mexico on
diplomatic mission.
Slidell Mission
His assignment from Polk was to negotiate the
 Mexican
recognition of the Rio Grande as the border
between Texas and the United States
 The purchase of the New Mexico area for $5 million
 The purchase of California at any price.
Mexican governmental affairs were in turmoil and
the Slidell Mission was not received. Slidell
returned to the United States and recommended
to the president that strong action be taken…
Taking California
Polk is sees California as a territory he wants.
He sends troops to “protect” Californians in case
Mexico shows signs of aggression.
John Sloat (commander of US fleet in Pacific) is sent
to seize San Francisco Bay.
Captain John C. Fremont is sent into territory with
 Shows
Mexican troops a force they had not expected in
Moving to War
Polk orders General Zachary Taylor to build a fort
along the Rio Grande in Texas.
 Goal
was to incite war with Mexico
Troops from both sides engage in skirmish – Polk
delivers war message to congress that had been
drafted much earlier.
 “Mexico
has passed the boundary of the US, and
invaded our territory and shed American blood…”
Whigs demand peaceful resolution – ignored.
The Fight…
American settlers in California revolt.
Fremont returns from Oregon and capture Sonoma
A flag is made showing the strongest animal in
California and the Bear Flag Republic is born.
Sloat drops 250 marines into Monterey and raises
American flag
Stephen Kearney is sent to Texas and captures region
with little opposition – off to California…
The Fight (cont.)
Kearney loses battle of Los Angeles and San Pasqual
(near San Diego)
Commodore Stockton brings reinforcements and the US is
victorious as they retake Los Angeles in Battle of San
Gabriel River
January 1847, American troops had captured Santa
Barbara, San Francisco and San Diego.
In Texas American troops also successful.
A new plan of attack centered on being on the offensive
and attack Mexico City.
Gen. Santa Anna put up good fight for Mexico
The Fight (cont.)
Several generals and other military leaders that
were integral in Mexican War that would end up
being on opposite sides in the Civil War.
American troops capture Mexico City in September
of 1847. forces Mexico to accept treaty
Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo
The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was signed
February 2nd 1848 at the small town of
Guadalupe Hidalgo. Ratified in March
The treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in conjunction
with the Adam-Onís Treaty is known as the Mexican
Mexico would cede their holdings north of the Rio
Grande River. It gave America the land for $15
million and US government agreed to assume US
citizen’s debts from the Mexican government.
Wilmot Proviso
The annexation of Texas directly led to the war with
There was a belief that the war had been a Southern
conspiracy to add Slave States
The anti-slavery Whigs grew bold after the mid-term
elections of 1846 when the Whigs took control of
Whigs moved to a stronger anti-slavery stance to
take focus on their failed economic ideas.
Wilmot Proviso (cont.)
As part of a military appropriations bill (funding for
military) David Wilmot, democrat from Pennsylvania,
proposed the idea that slavery would be prohibited
in any new territories acquired from Mexico.
 This
proviso became a rallying point for the north who
feared expansion of slavery.
 While it passed the House several times – it never passed
the Southern and pro slavery Senate.
Election of 1848
Slavery was THE ISSUE of the election
Polk was exhausted and did not run for a 2nd term.
Died 3 months later…
Whigs nominate a southern slave owner – who was a
successful general in the Mex-AmWar.
Zachary Taylor (Old Rough and Ready)was silent
about expanding slavery in new territories.
Once again a 3rd party will take votes in NY, and the
Democrat – Cass loses.
Gold discovered in 1848 remains quiet for a few
months and then in 1849 after Polk confirmed the
discovery, enormous amount of settlers pour in to
Statehood achieved in 1850 during Taylor’s
No real slavery imported from south to northern
California, some in southern California but limited.
California would enter Union as Free State.
Compromise of 1850
With California entering as FREE STATE the balance in
congress was upset.
Calhoun threatens secession (again). He presents idea
of slavery guaranteed in all territories as well as
some “unique” ideas for the presidency.
 His
idea of slavery in all territories goes against the
Northwest Ordinance and Compromise of 1820.
William Seward will present the opposite idea of
containing slavery and judging it morally unjust.
Compromise of 1850
Whig leaders Henry Clay and Daniel Webster, and
Democrat Stephen Douglas will put together a group of
laws that together will become the Compromise of 1850.
Fugitive Slave Act
 California enters as free state
 Abolish slave trade – but not slavery in DC
 Deny claims of Texas to land east of Rio Grande River
 Lands acquired from Mexico will become New Mexico, and
Utah and will determine slavery issue through popular
The election of 1852 will be the last time a Whig will
run for president and the party will split up.
James Gadsden will be sent to Mexico to negotiate a
deal to purchase portions of New Mexico and what will
become Arizona.
This was done in a push for a southern trans-continental
Ostend Manifesto: a request by French and British
Ambassadors to push President Pierce to obtain Cuba.
Leaked to press – alarmed, northern congressmen warn
the president to back away from the idea. Causes
Kansas-Nebraska Act
Missouri Compromise prohibits slavery north of 36’ 30” line
in Louisiana Territory.
Stephen Douglas presents bill in 1854 extinguishing Native
American rights to land in central Plains to organize a
territory called Nebraska
After Southern concerns the idea would create 2 territories
– Kansas and Nebraska.
Additionally, the Missouri Compromise would be repealed.
To encourage Northern support of the policy, Douglas
argued that Kansas would mostly be settled by non-slave
holders as the climate and soil would not support plantation
Passed in 1854
The Act created a new political party from Free
Soiler's, “anti-Nebraska” Democrats, and northern
Whigs in opposition – Republican Party
Another party was formed competing for Whig and
Democrats known as the “Know-Nothing” Party also
called American Party
 An
anti-Catholic, anti-immigrant group that had its origins
in the 1830’s they were considered nativists.
 Wanted to have a literacy test for voters
“Bleeding Kansas”
In 1854 there was a rush to add people to sway
the slavery decision because popular sovereignty
would determine the outcome.
Both pro and non slavery advocates descended into
Lecompton Constitution created by pro-slavery
Missourians was recognized as the state constitution
of Kansas.
Anti-slavery forces rejected it and violence broke
John Brown
A rabid, religious, abolitionist
He is enraged when a pro-slavery gang loots and
burns buildings in Lawrence, Kansas.
In retaliation, he and his followers murder and
mutilate 5 pro-slavery settlers.
Known as the “Pottawatomie Massacre” it sets off a
minor war that kills 200 people in Kansas.
Will not be the only time John Brown kills in the
name of abolition…
James Buchanan
Elected president in 1856, a Democrat who defeated
Fillmore and Fremont.
Republicans have no support in the South
Buchanan was a weak president who stuck with the
dogma of supporting the South no matter what.
Dred Scott case comes to prominence in 1856. the
outcome will split the nation.
Additionally, Buchanan will encourage Kansas to enter
union as slave state under Lecompton constitution.
Congress rejects the idea (led by Stephen Douglas)
The Democratic party will split under Buchanan
Dred Scott Case
Slave moves to free territory with master.
Scott believes that because he entered “free”
territory he became free.
Ruling: Dred Scott had no right to sue in court as
slave. Additionally, free territory did not make him
This ruling challenges and overturns Missouri
Becomes point of contentions for abolitionists
Election of 1860
The Dred Scott case persuaded many Republicans
that the Supreme Court and Buchanan were part of
a “Slave Power” conspiracy.
Abraham Lincoln, who had been a Whig
congressman and lawyer, had lost the senate seat
race in Illinois to Douglas in 1858. It was their
debates that spurred much of the discussion on
slavery and popular sovereignty issues throughout
the nation.
Election of 1860
Once again, the main topic was slavery and its
spread and legitimacy in territories and areas north
of the 36’30 line.
In the election – Lincoln’s name was not even on the
ballot in the South.
Lincoln garnered enough electoral votes from the
North to win the election.
Before Lincoln would take office, South Carolina
would secede from the union, others would join them
and war was close behind…