Manifest Destiny and Its Legacy Introduction In the 1840’s territorial expansion dominated American politics and diplomacy. Settlers swarmed the Oregon country which aggravated Britain, because they had staked their own claim in that area. Also the Texas province provoked tensions with the Mexican government. The Mexican government still believed that Texas was theirs. With these territories up for grabs, the underlying issue would still be slavery. The Accession of Tyler Too Harrison contracted pneumonia, and wearied by official functions and plagued by office seekers, the old warrior died after only four weeks in the White House. This was by far the shortest administration in American history, following by far the longest inaugural address. Tyler Too is now claiming the spotlight. He was six feet tall, slender, blue eyed, and fair haired, with classical features and a high forehead. John Tyler was a Virginian gentleman of the old school. He had left the Jacksonian-Democratic fold for the Whigs People accused him of being a democrat in Whigs clothing. Tyler had in fact been put on the ticket partly to attract the vote of this fringed group, many of whom were influential southern gentry. As events turned out, President Harrison, the Whig served for only four weeks, whereas Tyler, the exDemocrat who was still largely a Democrat at heart, served for 204 weeks, in which a Whig was Pro-Bank, Pro-Protective Tariff, and Pro-Internal improvements. Tyler rhymed with Tippecanoe, but this is where the harmony ended. John Tyler: A President without a Party Financial reform came first. The Whig Congress hastened to pass a law ending the independent treasury system, and President Tyler disarmingly agreed to sign it. Clay wanted a new bank of the United States. When it came down to Tyler signing the bill he flatly vetoed it, Tyler wanted more of a centralized bank. A drunken mob gathered late at night near the White House and shouted: Down with the Veto! And A Bank, a Bank, a Bank!!! Whigs then tried to create a fiscal bank there would also be a fiscal corporation. But the president, still unbending, vetoed the offensive substitute. Whig extremists condemned Tyler as His Accidency. He received many letters threatening him with death. A wave of influenza swept through the country, which was called Tyler Grippe. He was then formally expelled from his party. His entire cabinet resigned in a body, except his secretary of state, who was in the midst of negotiations with England. The Lone Star of Texas Shines Alone During the uncertain 8 years since 1836, Texas had led a shaky existence. Mexico, refusing to recognize Texas’s independence, regarded the Lone Star province in revolt, and eventually be reconquered. The Texans were forced to maintain a costly military establishment. Vastly outnumbered by the Mexicans, they could not tell when they were going to attack. Texas was then driven to have talks with Britain and France in the hopes of helping them secure this area. Both Britain and France thought that this area would be great a game in divide and conquer. These actions would result, they hoped, in the fragmentation and militarization of America. An independent Texas would relieve British looms of their chronic dependence on American fiber-a supply that might be cut off in time of crisis by embargo or war. The Belated Texas Nuptials Partly because of the fears aroused by British schemers, Texas became a leading issue in the presidential election of 1844. The pro-expansion Democrats under James K Polk finally triumphed over the Whigs under Henry Clay. Tyler deserves much of the credit of shepherding Texas into the fold. Many Whigs feared that Texas in the Union would nourish the slave power. Tyler needed a two-thirds vote for a treaty in the Senate. He therefore arranged for annexation by a joint resolution. After much debate, the resolution passed in 1845, and Texas was formally invited to become the 28th star on the American flag. This area was no longer Mexico’s, and they were angrily charged. By 1845 the Lone Star Republic had become a danger spot, inviting foreign intrigue that menaced American people. Oregon Fever Populated Oregon The Oregon country was an enormous wilderness. British claims to Oregon were strong-at least to that portion north of the Columbian River. Scattered American and British pioneers in Oregon continued to live peacefully side by side. At the time the United States had sought to divide the vast domain at the 49th parallel. But the British regarded the Columbia River as the St. Lawrence of the West, and The whole fateful issue was now tossed into the presidential election of 1844, where it was largely overshadowed by the question of annexing Texas. A Mandate for Manifest Destiny The two major parties nominated their presidential standard bearers in May 1844. Democrats delegated James K Polk of Tennessee, America’s first Dark Horse or surprise presidential candidate. Whigs nominated Henry Clay. Polk may have been the dark horse, but he was hardly unknown. He was the Speaker of the House for 4 years and the governor of Tennessee for 2 years. The campaign of 1844 was in part an expression of mighty emotional known as the Manifest Destiny. Countless citizens in the 1840’s and 50’s feeling a sense of mission believed that Almighty God had manifestly destined the American people for them to get what was theirs which was land. This land greed was also called their empire and their liberty. A Mandate for Manifest Destiny Expansionists Democrats strongly swayed by the spell of Manifest Destiny came out flat footed in their platform for the Re-Annexation of Texas and Reoccupation of Oregon. The Democrats were in the game of slogans: one of them was Fifty-Four forty or Fight, this slogan became popular just two years after the election. The Whigs as noisemakers took no backseat. They countered with slogans as Hooray for Clay, and Polk, Slavery, and Texas, or Clay, Union, and Liberty. In the end, the Dark Horse, Polk barely beat Clay, 170 to 175 in the electoral vote and 1,338,464 to 1,300,097 in the popular vote. Clay would have won if he had not lost New York State by 5,000 votes. Polk the Purposeful Polk was middle height, five feet 8 inches tall, lean, white-haired, grayeyed and stern faced, and he took life seriously and drove himself into a premature grave. His burdens were increased by an unwillingness to delegate authority. He was hardworking, but not brilliant; he was shrewd, narrow minded, and persistent. First Goal: Polk wanted to lower the tariff, from 32 to 25 percent. It was called the Walker Tariff, and if proved to be an excellent revenue producer, largely because it was followed by boom times and heavy imports. Polk the Purposeful Second Goal: The restoration of the independent treasury, which was dropped by the Whigs. Pro-bank Whigs in Congress raised a storm of opposition, but victory at last was rewarded in 1846. Third and Fourth Goal: Polk’s must haves were California and the settlement of Oregon territory. The Oregon Territory was still occupied by the British, and by this time there was no opposition standing in the way. The only thing that both sides had to negotiate was where they were going to draw the line. Early in 1846, the British came around and proposed the line of the 49 parallel. Polk put this into the lap of the Senate. The senate accepted the offer, because at that time we were in a war with Mexico. So Polk, despite all the campaign bluster, got neither fiftyfour forty or a fight. But he did get something that in the long run was better: a reasonable compromise without a rifle being raised. Misunderstandings with Mexico The population of California in 1845 was mixed. It consisted of 13 thousand Spanish Mexicans and as many 75 thousand Indians. There were fewer Americans in this place as well and wanting to bring California into the Union. Polk was eager to buy California from Mexico, but relations with them were dangerously embittered. The United States had claims against the Mexicans for some 3 million dollars in damages to American citizens and their property. A more serious contention point was Texas. The Mexican Government threatened war if the United States should acquire the Lone Star Republic. The golden prize of California continued to cause Polk much anxiety. In a last ditch effort Polk dispatched John Slidell to Mexico City as minister late in 1845. The new envoy offered 25 million for California and territory to the east. But the Mexican government told Slidell that this was an insulting proposition. American Blood on American Soil Polk now prepared to force a showdown. On January 13, 1846, he ordered four thousand men under General Zachery Taylor, to march from the Nueces River to the Rio Grande, near the Mexican forces. According the Polk’s diary, he was just waiting to hear about a clash. Not wanting to wait, Polk asked Congress to go to war with Mexico with two claims. Claim One: Unpaid claims Claim Two: Slidell’s rejection They decided that they would go to war if Mexican troops should fire first. American Blood on American Soil News arrived April 25, 1846 Mexican troops had crossed the Rio Grande and attacked General Taylors command, with a loss of 16 Americans killed or wounded. Polk sent a message to Congress and declared that despite all efforts to avoid a clash, hostilities had been forced upon the country by the shedding of American blood upon the American soil. Congress voted for war. In his message to Congress, Polk was making history not writing it. Like many presidents with ambitious goals, he felt justified in bending in truth if that was what if taken to bend towards public war. Did Polk provoke war? California was an imperative point in his program, and Mexico would not sell it at any price. The only way was to use force, because Britain was waiting in the wings. Both sides were fired by moral indignations. The Mexican people could fight with the flaming sword of righteousness. Yankee picked a fight by polluting their soil? Many earnest Americans on the other hand, sincerely believed the Mexico was the aggressor. The Mastering of Mexico Polk wanted California. Santa Anna came back into Mexico and rallied his men into this desperate defense of their soil. Polk thought that Santa Anna was going to work with Polk and sell out his own country but then didn’t. In 1846, General Kearny led a detachment of 1700 troops over the famous Santa Fe Trail into Santa Fe was easily captured. Before Kearney could reach California, the province was won, because John C Fremont just happened to be there with several armed men. In helping to overthrow Mexican rule in 1846, he collaborated with American naval officers and with the local Americans, who had hoisted the banner of the California Bear Flag Revolt. The Mastering of Mexico Zachery Taylor speared the main thrust, and was known as Old Rough and Ready because of his iron constitution and incredible un-soldiery appearance. He sometimes wore a straw hat and fought his way across the Rio Grande into Mexico. After many victories he reached Buena Vista, with 5000 men, and on Feb 22-23 they were attacked by Santa Anna force of 20 thousand men. The Mexicans were in a tough spot; Taylor would not be beaten and was called the hero of Buena Vista. Zachery Taylor and a sound American strategy they were able to beat Mexico in many ways. Taylor then battled his way into Mexico City by September 1847. Taylor proved to be the most distinguished general by his country between the Revolution and the Civil War. Fighting Mexico for Peace Polk wanted this fighting to end soon. Polk arranged for his chief clerk of the state department Scott to arrange for an armistice. Scott and Trist arranged for this agreement with Santa Anna at the cost of 10,000. The dictator took the money and used it to bolster his defenses. Polk was not happy and he wanted Trist back in Washington. Trist was not coming back and sent a 65 page letter as to why he is not coming back. But Trist grasping a fleeting opportunity signed the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo on February 2, 1848. Fighting Mexico for Peace The terms of the treaty were: Confirmation of the American title to Texas and the enormous area stretching westward to Oregon and the ocean and embracing California, this totaled including Texas. The United States agreed to pay 15 million for the land. Polk agreed to the treaty and sent it to the Senate. After much debate, the treaty was finally approved by the Senate, 38 to 14. Oddly enough, it was condemned both by those who wanted all of Mexico and by those who wanted none of it. Profit and Loss in Mexico As wars go, the Mexican War was a small one. It cost some 13 thousand American lives, most of them were taken by disease. America’s total expanse was increased by about one third. Most ominous of all, the war aroused the slavery issue. Abolitionists said the Mexican conflict was one of the reasons why the civil war started. Quarreling over slavery extension also erupted on the floors of Congress. In 1846, shortly after the shooting started, David Wilmot introduced a fateful amendment. This amendment stated that slavery should never exist in any of the territory to be wrested from Mexico. Profit and Loss in Mexico The disruptive Wilmot amendment twice passed the House, but not the Senate; the southern states fought this amendment tooth and nail. The Wilmot Proviso never became federal law, but it was eventually endorsed by the legislatures of all but one of the Free states, and it came to symbolize the burning issue of slavery in the territories. In a sense the Mexican War really starts the Civil War. Mexicans could later take some satisfaction in knowing that the territory that was taken from them was now going to be an area of discord, and that could be called Santa Anna’s revenge.