Archive for the ‘National Expansion’ Category

Questions to Guide Manifest Destiny Readings

1. How specifically does O’Sullivan contrast America with other great civilizations? What makes us unique? How does this relate to the concept of exceptionalism that we have been discussing?
2. Summarize the five specific pressures driving American expansion in the 1830s-1850s. Why did Mexico not develop and tie northern Mexico more closely to the core of Mexican society.
3. In what ways was this drive for expansion a part of the larger Romantic movement of the 19th century?
4. What technological advances helped keep the bonds of Union strong as distances grew greater?
5. Explain this statement by Mr. González Quiroga: “Manifest Destiny was a graceful way to justify something unjustifiable.” What main challenge is he making to the traditional view that these lands were “empty” and “uncivilized?”

Manifest Destiny Reading 4: An American historical perspective

Manifest Destiny
By Sam W. Haynes, University of Texas at Arlington

The 1840s were years of extraordinary territorial growth for the United States. During a four year period, the national domain increased by 1.2 million square miles, a gain of more than sixty percent. So rapid and dramatic was the process of territorial expansion, that it came to be seen as an inexorable process, prompting many Americans to insist that their nation had a “manifest destiny” to dominate the continent.

Yet, the expansionist agenda was never a clearly defined movement, or one that enjoyed broad, bipartisan support. Whig party leaders vigorously opposed territorial growth, and even expansionist Democrats argued about how much new land should be acquired, and by what means. Some supporters of Manifest Destiny favored rapid expansion and bold pursuit of American territorial claims, even at the risk of war with other nations. Others, no less committed to the long-term goal of an American empire, opposed to the use of force to achieve these ends, believing that contiguous land would voluntarily join the Union in order to obtain the benefits of republican rule. In an often-used metaphor of the day, these regions would ripen like fruit and fall into the lap of the United States. Thus the champions of Manifest Destiny were at best a motley collection of interest groups, motivated by a number of divergent objectives, and articulating a broad range of uniquely American concerns.
Several factors help to explain why the United States embarked upon an aggressive program of expansion during this period. In the early decades of the nineteenth century, many Americans had dismissed as fanciful the idea of a transcontinental republic, convinced that the bonds of Union would weaken as the nation grew larger. But such vast distances were quickly being conquered by technological innovations. By the 1840s, steamboats had turned America’s waterways in busy commercial thoroughfares, while a network of railroads integrated eastern markets with towns and cities on the western slope of the Appalachians. The telegraph, first used in 1844, ushered in a modern age of long distance communication. An American dominion stretching from the Atlantic to the Pacific now seemed within reach.
Although the United States had no shortage of unoccupied lands, expansionists argued that the republic must continue to grow in order to survive. Echoing the political philosophy of Thomas Jefferson, they viewed an abundance of land as the mainstay of a prosperous republic, and warned against the concentration of political and economic power. Troubled by creeping urbanization and a rising tide of immigrants from Germany and Ireland, expansionists viewed Manifest Destiny as a means to obtain a new, long-term lease on the Jeffersonian ideal. Far from weakening the republic, they argued, territorial growth would actually serve to strengthen it, providing unlimited economic opportunities for future generations.

Expansionists were also motivated by more immediate, practical considerations. Southerners anxious to enlarge the slave empire were among the most ardent champions of the crusade for more territory. New slave states would enhance the South’s political power in Washington and, equally important, serve as an outlet for its growing slave population. For American commercial interests, expansion offered greater access to lucrative foreign markets. Washington policy-makers, anxious to compete with Great Britain for the Asia trade, had long been convinced of the strategic and commercial advantages of San Francisco and other ports on the Pacific coastline of Mexican-owned California. The disastrous Panic of 1837, which had resulted in huge surpluses and depressed prices for American farm products, also focused attention on the need to develop new foreign markets.

Most important of all, perhaps, was the growing sense of anxiety which Americans felt toward Great Britain. Americans had always been suspicious of British activities in the western hemisphere, but inevitably this fear had grown as the United States began to define its strategic and economic interests in terms that extended beyond its own borders. Great Britain’s claim to the Pacific Northwest and its close relationship with Mexico were matters of great concern to American interests, which viewed Great Britain as the United States’ only rival for control of the Pacific coastline. Fearful of being “hemmed in” by Great Britain, Democratic leaders saw Her Majesty’s government poised to block American territorial ambitions at every turn. In addition, southern slaveowners were particularly apprehensive of Great Britain, which had abolished slavery in its West Indies colonial possessions in 1833. In 1843, southern statesmen alleged, on the basis of little evidence, that Great Britain was actively engaged in a plot to abolish slavery throughout North America. These rumors provoked a frenzied outcry in the South, which called for the immediate annexation of the Texas Republic in order to secure the interests of the planter class in the cotton-growing regions of North America.

This fear of British designs, real and imagined, changed the face of Manifest Destiny, converting many advocates of gradual expansion into apostles of a new, more militant brand of imperialism. By the mid-1840s, with Great Britain rumored to be plotting with Mexico to block Washington’s efforts to annex the Texas Republic and scheming to acquire California, U.S. expansionism took on a greater sense of urgency. Elected on a pro-expansion platform in 1844, Democrat James K. Polk moved quickly to annex Texas as the twenty-eighth state. Polk also threatened to disregard long-standing British claims to Oregon, convinced that he only way to deal with “John Bull is to look him straight in the eye.” Polk’s defiant brinkmanship would ultimately lead to a compromise with Her Majesty’s government over the Oregon territory, while precipitating a war with Mexico, whose government, Polk incorrectly believed, was acting in concert with Great Britain to thwart U.S. territorial ambitions. Although Polk insisted that the United States was not waging a war of conquest, critics accused the president of manufacturing a war to seize California and New Mexico. In the months following the war, Polk also considered extending U.S. sovereignty over the Yucatan peninsula and Cuba, two regions which he believed were vulnerable to encroachments from the British. These initiatives received little support in Congress, however, and were abandoned shortly before Polk stepped down from office.

In the 1850s, having established itself as a transcontinental empire, the United States ceased to regard British activities in the western hemisphere with alarm. Preoccupied with the increasingly bitter sectional conflict over slavery, many Americans rejected Manifest Destiny. Although southern extremists would sponsor filibuster expeditions into Latin America with the objective of gaining new lands to extend the slave empire, the expansionist movement faded from the national agenda in the years prior to the outbreak of the Civil War.

Manifest Destiny Reading 5

The Power of an Idea
by Miguel Ángel González Quiroga

1996 marked the 150th anniversary of the start of the war between the United States and Mexico. This is the proper time to recall an event which had lasting consequences for our two countries but which has now been mostly forgotten.
It is said that wars usually begin many years before the first shot is fired. I believe this to be so, and most especially in the case of this war. But how far back do we go? Ten years to the separation of Texas? Twenty-five years to the founding of the Mexican State? I would agree with those who hold that the die was cast when the United States was born as a nation and began its slow but inexorable expansion to the West.
The westward movement is one of several factors attributed to this war. You’ve heard them all: the slave interests of the South, the commercial interests of the Northeast, the land hunger of the West, Manifest Destiny, the Warhawks, James K. Polk. For those who blame Mexico: her internal divisions, her inability to colonize and govern the Northern lands, her rampant militarism, her unbounded arrogance.
American expansion, or growth, to use a less belligerent term, was, in my estimation, the principal cause of this great conflict. Without it, the war is simply incomprehensible. We could almost say the expansion was an irreducible brute fact.
Within the overall concept of expansion stands the doctrine of Manifest Destiny, which has an immense fascination for many of us in Mexico. Without pretending to add anything new to what has been said of old, I wish to include a few words on the concept of Manifest Destiny.
It is dangerous to underestimate the power of an idea. Especially one which captures the imagination of a people. Manifest Destiny was such an idea. To extend American democracy to the rest of the continent was to place a mantle of legitimacy on what was essentially an insatiable ambition for land. Some have argued that it was villainy clad in the armor of a righteous cause, to use an expression by Lippman. It is difficult to argue against democracy and its extension to the farthest reaches of the continent although historians have pointed out that, at least in this case, extending the area of freedom also signified extending the area of slavery.
The assertion of the superiority of the American race and the concomitant denigration of Mexico is another element of Manifest Destiny. It was Walt Whitman who stated: “What has miserable, inefficient Mexico–with her superstition, her burlesque upon freedom, her actual tyranny by the few over the many–what has she to do with the great mission of peopling the new world with a noble race? Be it ours, to achieve that mission!”
Those of us who admire Whitman as the greatest of American poets cannot but be disappointed at this stand on the war. Can this be the same poet who glorified equality and the respect for others when he said, “For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you?” Or when he wrote, “Whoever degrades another degrades me, and whatever is done or said returns again to me?”
How can we reconcile this contradiction? The poet of the body and of the soul himself explained it when he wrote, “I am vast, I contain multitudes.”
It is a painful exercise to look in the mirror of our past and discover that we are found wanting. It is sobering to read that we were beaten because we were a backward and decaying people. I cannot think that Mariano Otero and Carlos Maria Bustamante were the products of a decayed race. But we in Mexico cannot and do not ignore the weakness and the underdevelopment which was our lot in the 19th century. Nor do we ignore that underdevelopment was also the product of long and complex historical forces.
Manifest Destiny was a graceful way to justify something unjustifiable. It has not escaped our attention that Ulysses S. Grant, one of the most prominent of American military men, and himself a participant in the war, wrote in his memoirs, “I do not think there ever was a more wicked war than that waged by the United States in Mexico. I thought so at the time, when I was a youngster, only I had not moral courage enough to resign.”
But as a historian I do not wish to judge or to censure. Let me state my own views on the matter: expansion was a historical process that, like a westward wind, swept all before it. Not Mexico, not any force on this continent or any continent could have prevented it. This is not a question of good demographics. European immigration led to an explosive growth of the population of the United States and this inevitably led to expansion. Expansion led to war.


Chapter 14 questions

Due Monday, October 22.

Make sure you are answering thoroughly and doing your own work in your own words.

1. What were the specific causes of the rise of the market economy in the early 19th century?
2. What specific hardships did those living on the frontier (the West) face? What adjectives best describe frontier settlers in terms of their education and intellectual attitudes? Why does your text refer to the West as “the most typically American part of America?”
3. What is ecological imperialism? How and why did George Catlin oppose this?
4. Where did the “surplus people” come from?
5. Which country provided the largest source of immigrants in the 1840s and 1850s, and what were the push factors that drove these people from the native country? Where did these people tend to settle in the US, and why? How many of them settled in the US between 1830 and 1860?
6. Why did native-born people tend to distrust this group (in question 5) in particular (explain religious reasons and secret societies)? What was the Order of the Star Spangled Banner? What fear did nativists have about immigrant impact on our religious and cultural heritage? What true impact did immigrants have upon the US economy?
7. How were German immigrants different from Irish immigrants in terms of their settlement patterns? How did the Irish begin to influence urban politics, especially in New York?
8. Where did the modern factory system begin? How did Britain attempt to protect its virtual monopoly in the textile industry? What role did Samuel Slater play?
9. Where did American business find the capital to develop and expand? Which of these three things necessary for business development—capital, raw materials, and labor—did the US have most abundantly?
10. What technological innovations were Americans creating during this time period? Make a chart with the creators, DATES, and inventions/innovations.
11. In what industry did the industrial revolution first center in the US, and why? Where was this manufacturing concentrated in the US? What group of people benefitted most from manufacturing enterprises?
12. What were the main markets for Southern cotton? Why did the South not develop more textile manufacturing at this time? How did Eli Whitney accidentally encourage the expansion of slavery?
13. What was the innovation most responsible for the growth of modern mass manufacturing?
14. What role did women and children play in early US manufacturing? Explain the “cult of domesticity” and explain the discord between belief in this ideal and the first part of this question. 15. How were American families affected by the increasing industrialization of America? How did the home come to be viewed as work moved away from it and to a separate location (such as a factory?)
16. How did unions develop in the business sector, and what was the relevance of the case of Commonwealth v. Hunt? What impact did the panic of 1837 have on unionization, and why? What finally enabled workers to have more influence over conditions under which they labored, from a legal standpoint?
17. Explain the development of transportation during this time period as a necessary function of economic development. Where and when were roads, canals, turnpikes, and railroads being built? Include dates and specifics. What impact did the transportation revolution have upon sectionalism?
18. What was the significance of the Cumberland Road, and where was it?
19. What impact did Robert Fulton have upon river transportation?
20. What does the phrase “canal consequences” mean? What impact did the development of roads and canals have upon the importance of the Mississippi?
21. What legal questions were raised by the growth of the market economy?
22. What was the impact of industrialization on Americans’ standard of living (also consider children in your answer)?

Territorial Acquisitions for the United States

Treaties and Purchases that have made the US what it is today….


1. 1783-Peace of Paris– the treaty that ended the American Revolution established the newly independent US at being bounded on the north by Canada, on the South by Spanish Florida, on the east by the Atlantic, and on the west by the Mississippi River. These terms, especially about the boundary of Canada, were not very well defined, however. In fact, the US did not permanently settle its border with Canada until 1925!


2. 1803– Louisiana Purchase Treaty– the boundary of the US is moved from the Mississippi River to the Rocky Mountains, containing the western watershed of the Mississippi River including the Missouri, a major tributary.


3. 1818- Convention of 1818– treaty with Britain allowing joint occupation of the Oregon Country for ten years, established the 49th parallel as the northern boundary of that part of the US that had been gained through the Louisiana Purchase from the Lake of the Woods to the Rockies. We therefore gave up part of what is now southern Alberta province to the US. This treaty also including the gain of fishing rights off eastern Canada for the US.


4. 1819- Adams-Onis Treaty (Florida Purchase Treaty)- Spain gave Florida to the US in exchange for the US payment of $5 million in claims by citizens against the Spanish and giving up part of some claims to Texas along the Sabine River.


5. 1820- Maine gains statehood as part of the Missouri Compromise, but its border with Canada is disputed. Although the King of the Netherlands was called in to try to negotiate a settlement, that treaty was rejected by the US Senate. The border will not be settled until 1842 after the Aroostook War….


6. 1842- Webster-Ashburton Treaty – After the Aroostook or Lumberjack War, our secretary of state, Daniel Webster, opened negotiations with Alexander Baring, Baron Ashburton. The boundary between Maine and Canada all along the Great Lakes, to the Lake of the Woods was determined. Of the 12,000 square miles of disputed territory, the US got 7,000 and  Britain got 5,000.


7. 1845- Texas is annexed by a joint resolution in the lame duck period of president Tyler’s administration. President-elect Polk had already made it clear that he was in favor of annexation as a part of the doctrine of what would later be known as Manifest Destiny. Texas- boundaries at the time includes parts of New Mexico and Colorado as far as the southern boundary of the Oregon Country.


8. 1846- Oregon Treaty– The southern half of the Oregon Country is ceded to the US on June 15 as rthe US prepared for war with Mexico. The US does not insist on its claim of “54’40° or Fight,” but instead continues the 49th parallel, approximately as the boundary between the US and Canada to the Pacific, with Canada also receiving all of  Vancouver Island.


9. 1848- Treaty of Guadelupe-Hidalgo– Mexico cedes the Mexican Cession after they are defeated in the Mexican War. The US receives Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and the remainder of Colorado west of the Rockies. Texas’ current boundary will later be fixed as part of the Compromise of 1850.


10. 1853- Gadsden Purchase– the Southern boundaries of Arizona and New Mexico is purchased from Mexico (supposedly to allow a southern route for the proposed transcontinental railroad). The US paid $10,000,000 for approximately 30,000 square miles of cactus, sand, and lizards, just so that Southerners would stop standing in the way of passage of a transcontinental railroad bill. What wouldn’t we do to mollify the Southerners?


11. 1867- Alaska Purchase Treaty– Secretary of State Seward was accused of folly when he purchased Alaska from Russia for $7.2 million dollars for approximately 586,000 square miles of frozen tundra and rainforest—oh, and gold and oil. That worked out to about two cents an acre, by the way. Russia was willing to deal because they were afraid that their weakness after the Crimean War would enable the US to take it without compensation.


12. 1898- Hawai’i is annexed by the Newlands Resolution on June 6, after the US Senate refused to ratify a treaty negotiated between the US and the fraudulent “Republic of Hawaii.” This occurred while the US was at war (for ten weeks) with Spain.


13. 1925- Canada- US Boundary Treaty- we finally nail down where in the Lake of the Woods the boundary with Canada is, so we swap out a few acres.


So that’s how we got the boundaries of the United STATES.


But we have other territories which are not parts of states.


AND also… the US claimed uninhabited islands to mine bird and bat poop throughout the world based on the Guano Islands Act of 1856– like Johnston Atoll; Baker Island (which is south of the equator); Howland Island, where Amelia Earheart was headed when she disappeared; Jarvis Island; and Kingman Reef, all in the Pacific Ocean…


And we gained territory from the Spanish- American War…. (Guam remains from this, the Philippines have their independence)


And we split Samoa with Germany in the Tripartite Convention of 1899, from which we got American Samoa…


And we gained territory from World War II- Wake Island and Midway Island, sites of famous battles….


The end… so far….

MC practice 17:2

Given in class 10/25:
MC Practice 17:2
1. The earliest known use of the term Manifest Destiny was by
A. Mark Twain
B. James K. Polk
C. John Tyler
D. John L. O’Sullivan
E. Ralph Waldo Emerson 396

2. Although a Democrat at heart, John Tyler joined the Whig party because he
A. could not stomach the dictatorial policies of Andrew Jackson.
B. believed it better represented Virginia’s interests.
C. was forced to resign from the Senate.
D. thought it was the easiest way to become president.
E. believed in its pro-bank, pro-tariff positions. 397

3. The Whigs chose John Tyler as their vice presidential nominee to
A. have him rather than Harrison actually run the executive branch.
B. attract the vote of states’ rightists.
C. win northern votes.
D. reward him for his strong support of the party platform.
E. respond to the Democrats’ expansionist appeal. 397

4. The main leaders of the Whigs in 1840 were
A. William Henry Harrison and John Tyler.
B. Daniel Webster and William Henry Harrison.
C. John Calhoun and Robert Haynes.
D. James Polk and Henry Clay.
E. Henry Clay and Daniel Webster. 396

5. Relations between the British and the US in the 19th century could basically be characterized as
A. harmonious at the diplomatic level but full of popular resentments on both sides.
B. generally peaceful, with occasional periods of tension.
C. generally tense, with periods of violence alternating with peaceful resolutions.
D. constantly on the brink of war.
E. marked by growing American economic supremacy. 398-403

6. Which group would be most likely to support Manifest Destiny?
A. Whigs
B. Abolitionists
C. Northern manufacturers
D. Democrats
E. Native Americans 404

7. The slogan “54° 40’ or Fight!” dealt with the disputed US area’s border with which other nation?’
A. Maine- Canada
B. Oregon-Canada
C. Alaska- Canada
D. Texas- Mexico
E. California- Mexico 403

8. All but one member of Tyler’s cabinet resigned in protest over
A. his support for Peggy Eaton.
B. his attempts to go to war with Mexico.
C. his refusal to approve a new bank of the US.
D. his veto of the Maysville Road Bill.
E. his approval of the annexation of Texas. 397

9. Britain invaded the US and burned an American ship
A. during the Aroostook War.
B. in the Oregon country.
C. off the coast of Alaska.
D. during the Canadian insurrection.
E. in the Creole incident. 399

10. The Battle of the Alamo was significant because
A. it was an overwhelming victory by Texans seeking independence.
B. Texans obtained much-needed supplies in their fight for independence.
C. it made Jim Bowie a national figure and enabled him to win a Senate seat.
D. it convinced the US government to support the Texas independence movement.
E. it served as a rallying cry to recruit more popular support for the Texas independence movement. 294

New Series on AMC on the building of the Transcontinental Railroad

November 6 will be the first episode of the new original series Hell on Wheels at 9 pm on AMC. From the previews, this looks like a very interesting historical drama. Even though we will not talk about the building of the transcontinental railroad until  the beginning of next semester, the show starts in 2 weeks. Here is the link to the companion website: