Chapter 17 Notes W.H. Harrison, John Tyler, Manifest Destiny, Texas Annexation, James Polk, The Mexican War William Henry Harrison William Henry Harrison 1773-1841 • Ninth president of the United States, western military hero, territorial administrator, congressman, and diplomat. • Harrison, in a cold, pouring rain, gave the longest inauguration speech ever delivered, contracted pneumonia, and died a month later. • He served the shortest time in office of any president and was the first to die in office John Tyler John Tyler 1790-1862 • Tenth president of the United States. Tyler was the first to ascend from the vice presidency through the accident of a chief executive's death. • "His Accidency" was also only the second politician to switch parties before attaining the White House and the first to be driven from his party before departing Pennsylvania Avenue. Manifest Destiny • The term manifest destiny originated in the 1840s. It expressed the belief that it was Anglo-Saxon Americans' providential mission to expand their civilization and institutions across the breadth of North America. • The phrase was first employed by John L. O'Sullivan in an article on the annexation of Texas published in the July-August 1845 edition of the United States Magazine and Democratic Review, which he edited. It was, • O'Sullivan claimed, "our manifest destiny to overspread the continent allotted by Providence for the free development of our yearly multiplying millions." • The term and the concept were taken up by those desiring to secure Oregon Territory, California, Mexican land in the Southwest, and, in the 1850s, Cuba. Texas Revolution and Annexation Fall of the Alamo by Robert Jenkins Onderdonk Fall of the Alamo by Robert Jenkins Onderdonk Although they were greatly outnumbered, Texas forces held off a siege at the Alamo by the Mexican army under Antonio López de Santa Anna. The old mission's walls were eventually breached, however, and the Texans were overcome in hand-to-hand fighting. This painting is an artist's conception of the last moments of battle, before the remaining Texans were finally defeated. (Friends of the Governor's Mansion) Copyright © Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved. Annexation of Texas • Independence was not what many Texans really desired. • Voters elected Houston president, but also overwhelmingly endorsed union with the United States. • The Jackson and Van Buren administrations spurned annexation, however. They feared both diplomatic trouble and the political consequences of pressing for the admission of a territory in which slavery, now constitutionally protected, was growing rapidly. • Many southerners, eager to secure and expand America's slaveholding territory, worried that Britain intended to promote abolition in Texas. • The health of that system did not overly concern President John Tyler either. Having alienated both parties, he vainly hoped the Texas issue might win him a new following. Consequences • James Buchanan would later compare Texas to the Trojan horse. • Its admission hastened the unraveling of the national parties. • Many Van Buren Democrats, convinced that southerners had ridden roughshod over them in 1844, found their way into the Free-Soil or even the Republican movements. • Annexation helped provoke war with Mexico, bringing America additional southwestern territory and fatally linking the politics of slavery and expansion. • In June 1845 the republic's Congress accepted U.S. statehood. James K. Polk by George Peter Alexander Healy, 1846 James K. Polk by George Peter Alexander Healy, 1846 Lacking charm, Polk bored even his friends, but few presidents could match his record of acquiring land for the United States. (James K. Polk Memorial Association, Columbia, Tennessee) Copyright © Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved. James A. Polk 1795-1849 • Eleventh president of the United States. • Polk was the son of a prosperous Tennessee farmer. His mother, a devout Presbyterian, made an indelible impression on his character, instilling Calvinistic virtues of hard work, self-discipline, individualism, and a belief in the imperfection of human nature. Oregon Territory • Maine Boundary Settlement, 1842: Daniel Webster negotiates a deal with Britain and the United States over territory in Maine but also gave territory further west for both nations while keeping both nations out of war. • 54-40 forever or Fight!! • 49* vs. Columbian River • Early in 1846, United States finally got the rest of Oregon Territory without a fight at the 49* parallel. The Mexican War How it Began • Relations between the two countries had been strained almost from the moment Mexico won its independence from Spain in 1821. • Wracked by frequent revolutions, Mexico remained weak and unstable and was often dominated by dictators. • As a result of the disorder, the United States, France, and Great Britain lodged claims against the government for damages inflicted upon their nationals and property. • The American claims were submitted to a commission for arbitration, which settled on a figure of about $2 million. • When the Mexican government defaulted, sentiment among Americans for collecting the claims by force increased, and some urged that war be declared. Mexico’s Reaction • Mexico's grievance against the United States focused on the issue of Texas. • Mexico had never recognized Texas's independence and made plans to recapture the area. • As Congress debated the issue, Mexico made it clear that the permanent loss of Texas would be sufficient cause for war. • • • • • • • Fears for the safety of Texas and rumors that Mexico would transfer California to Great Britain in lieu of its debt payment, heightened American sensitivity to Mexico's threats and moved Americans closer to a war spirit. Mexico recalled its minister in Washington and broke off diplomatic relations. In response, U.S. troops commanded by Gen. Zachary Taylor entered Texas to protect the region until annexation was completed. Mexico countered by dispatching an army to the south bank of the Rio Grande. Hoping to avoid war with Mexico (conflict with Great Britain over the Oregon country loomed), President Polk sent an emissary, John Slidell, to the Mexican capital with instructions not only to negotiate a settlement of the claims and Texas issues but also to offer to buy New Mexico and California. Slidell arrived in early December amid a wave of anti-American feeling, and the government refused to receive him. The Mexican president, who it was said favored conciliation with the United States, was overthrown in a military coup. He was replaced by an officer who announced his intention to restore Texas to Mexico while he made overtures to European nations for the establishment of a monarchy in Mexico in return for aid against the United States. And So It Begins… • Following the admission of Texas to the Union in December 1845, Taylor's army was ordered to the Rio Grande, the traditional boundary of the American claim to Texas dating back to the early years of the century. • The opposing Mexican force received orders to attack the Americans, and in late April, the commanding general informed Taylor that hostilities had begun. • An American patrol was ambushed north of the Rio Grande, followed quickly by a movement of the Mexican force across the river. • The two armies clashed in the Battles of Palo Alto and Resaca de la Palma in early May 1846. • Although outnumbered, Taylor's army was victorious in both engagements. • Slidell's rebuff by the Mexican government and news of the first American losses along the Rio Grande persuaded President Polk and his cabinet to ask that Congress recognize a state of war with Mexico. • The war resolution passed on May 13, 1846 with only token opposition. • • • • • • • Congress authorized the enlistment of fifty thousand volunteers, assigning quotas to the states closest to the fighting. The government increased the size of the regular military forces, appropriated money for the production of equipment, and requisitioned ships to carry the troops to Mexico. There were three areas of military operation. Taylor's army penetrated northern Mexico, occupied the important city of Monterrey, and defeated a larger Mexican army commanded by General Santa Anna at the Battle of Buena Vista on February 22-23, 1847. In the meantime, an army under the command of Stephen W. Kearny followed the Santa Fe Trail to New Mexico, occupied Santa Fe, and moved westward to the Pacific where it joined naval units in the occupation of California. Impatient to end the war, Polk opened a third operation against Mexico City itself. Commanded by Winfield Scott, an army made up largely of volunteers landed at Veracruz in March 1847 and marched inland, defeating the opposing forces in hard-fought battles at Cerro Gordo and in the Valley of Mexico. The capital was occupied in mid-September 1847. GENERAL SCOTT'S ENTRY INTO THE CITY OF MEXICO. The Treaty • The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which ended the war, was signed early in February 1848. • Mexico ceded New Mexico and California to the United States and, in recognition of the loss of Texas, agreed to the Rio Grande boundary. • In return, the United States assumed the claims of its citizens against Mexico and paid Mexico an additional $15 million to help the country achieve long-needed fiscal stability. The Effects • The Mexican War was costly for the United States. • Its military forces suffered almost thirteen thousand deaths, although only seventeen hundred were battle-related, the rest resulting from disease that swept through the army camps. • Nevertheless, the war was popular. It was the first war covered by large numbers of correspondents, as the nation's press competed for war news. • Some members of the Whig party and the abolitionists opposed the war, the former because they felt it was unconstitutional, the latter believing erroneously that it was part of a slaveholders' conspiracy to extend slavery. • For many Americans, the war was a romantic venture in a distant and exotic land. • The campaigns were often compared with the Spanish conquest of Mexico in the sixteenth century, which had recently been popularized by the historian William Hickling Prescott. Consequences • America's triumph seemed to confirm the superiority of democratic institutions, and literary figures like Walt Whitman and James Fenimore Cooper saw it as part of a worldwide mission to extend democratic ideals. • Like most wars, however, this one left serious questions in its wake. • The issue of whether slavery should be allowed in the lands taken from Mexico, first debated in 1846, set in motion a constitutional debate between the North and South that would dominate future political discourse, eventually dividing the Union itself.