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Manifest Destiny was a term used in the 1840s by the Jacksonian Democrats describing the belief that the United States was "destined" to spread from the Atlantic seaboard to the Pacific Ocean. This idea was used to promote the annexation of most of the Western United States and was the driving force behind the acquisition of territory. Manifest Destiny is always regarded as a general notion rather than a specific policy.
Diplomatic & Political.
Stephen Austin was the original settler of Texas. Austin granted land from Mexico only with assurance that there would be no slavery. He converted to Roman Catholic and learned Spanish. The city, Austin, Texas, was named after him. Stephen Austin brought the first Americans into Texas because he was granted permission by the Mexicans. He was also the leader of Texas settlers in 1820.
Diplomatic & Political.
Texas War of Independence
The Texas War of Independence was initiated by the Mexicans exerting more power over the American Texans. The Texans, as a result, split into two parties: a war party and a peace party. Even though Stephen Austin was able to win numerous concessions from the Mexican government on March 2, 1836, the American rebels proclaimed the independence of Texas and adopted a constitution that legalized slavery. This caused Santa Anna to attack the rebels at the Alamo taking victory there but later falling to many new settlers.
Diplomatic & Political.
Santa Anna led a large army into Alamo, Texas, where the American setters tried to defend themselves. The Mexicans forces, however, were able to annihilate the American Garrison at the Alamo mission in San Antonio after the famous, yet futile, group of Texas "patriots" tried to fight back.
Territorial Conflict in Oregon
The Territorial Conflict in Oregon was a conflict between the British and the Americans. When American settlers migrated to the Oregon county, British authorities tried to keep them south of the Columbia River. The settlers said that the Americans could settle anywhere in the territory, raising the prospect of armed conflict. The dispute was resolved when British and American diplomats divided the region at the 49th parallel.
California Gold Rush
The California Gold Rush was a mass migration to California after the discovery of gold in 1848. Thousands of Americans (especially single men) began traveling west to mining settlements around 1848 to 1850. Although few became rich, this movement led to organized settlements, and eventually statehood, for several western territories.
The Mexican-American War was an armed conflict between the United States and Mexico from 1846 to 1848 in the wake of the 1845 U.S. annexation of Texas. Mexico claimed ownership of Texas as a breakaway province and refused to recognize the secession and subsequent military victory by Texas in 1836.
Polk was the President of the United States from 1845 to 1849. Polk secured the Oregon Territory in the Compromise Line of 1846. He supported the Texas Rebellion in the 1830's as senator from Tennessee. Polk won the election by promising to annex Texas in 1844. Polk served as president during the Mexican-American War. Some argued that he exploited the annexation of Texas to drive Westward expansion.
The Wilmont Proviso was an amendment to the appropriation bill prohibiting slavery in any territory acquired from Mexico. This amendment was passed in the House of Representatives but failed in the Senate. The Wilmont Proviso was introduced on August 8, 1846, in the United States House of Representatives. The bill intended for the final negotiations to resolve the Mexican-American War and intended to get rid of slavery in territories.
Political & Diplomatic.
Free Soil was a political moveement and idealogy that kept slavery out of territory. Some Free Soilers were concerned about the welfare of blacks. Other Free Soilers cared nothing about slavery but simply wanted to keep the west a country for whites.
Election of 1848
The Election of 1848 included candidates Martin Van Buren, Lewis Cass, and Zachary Taylor. The Free soilers named former President Martin Van Buren, who was against slavery (which had risen as an important topic in the race), as their candidate. The democrats chose Lewis Cass who believed in Popular Sovereignty. The Whigs' candidate of choice was Zachary Taylor who did not address slavery nor popular sovereignty. Zachary Taylor won the election.
California Statehood and 1850 Compromise
During the Gold Rush, many new settlers moved to California. These new settlers demanded a territorial government to protect their lives and prosperity. California posed a threat to the expansion of slavery. In 1850, California was admitted as a free state, the lands acquired from Mexico were dealt with, and slade trade was abolished in DC.
Personal Liberty Law
Personal Liberty Laws were laws passed by northerners in reaction to the Fugitive Slave Act. These laws mandated a jury trial before alleged fugitive slaves could be moved and forbade the imprisonment or runaway slaves.
Cultural & Political.
Second Party System
The Second Party System was a period of strong political participation that emerged when Andrew Jackson first ran for president in 1824. A rise in political participation was demonstrated by election day turnout, rallies, partisan newspapers, and a high degree of personal loyalty to party. The major parties were the Democratic Party, led by Andrew Jackson, and the Whig Party, assembled by Henry Clay from the National Republicans.
Fugitive Slave Act (and resistance)
The Fugitive Slave Act was established in the 1850 Compromise. This Act enlisted federal magistrates in the task of returning runaway slaves. The Fugitive Slave Act, however, was resisted by many states who believed it encroached on their states rights and personal rights.
Kansas-Nebraska Act (1854)
The Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 created the territories of Kansas and Nebraska. This Act also opened new lands, repealed the Missouri Compromise of 1820, and allowed settlers in those territories to determine if they would allow slavery within their boundaries.
The Republican Party was the political party, formed in 1854 as a result of the Kansas-Nebraska Act, that believed in the non-expansion of slavery and comprised of Whigs, Northern Democrats, and Free-Soilers, in defiance to the Slave Powers. Although not abolitionist, it sought to block the spread of slavery in the territories. It also favored tariffs, homesteads, and a transcontinental railroad.
The American Party was a political organization created after the election of 1852 by the Know-Nothings. The American Party was organized to oppose the great wave of immigrants who entered the United States after 1846.
Political & kind of diplomatic.
Bleeding Kansas was a sequence of violent events involving abolitionists and pro-Slavery elements that took place in Kansas-Nebraska Territory. The dispute further strained the relations of the North and South, making civil war imminent.
Election of 1856
In the presidential election of 1856, Democrat James Buchanan defeated Republican candidate John C. Fremont. Buchanan won the general election by denouncing the abolitionists, promising not to allow any interference with the Compromise of 1850, and supporting the principle of noninterference by Congress with slavery in the territories.
James Buchanan was the 15th President of the United States from 1791 to 1868. President Buchanan recommended the admission of Kansas as a slave state under a constitution written by the proslavery Lecompton legislature even though the legitimacy of the constitution was widely questioned. By pursuing a proslavery agenda—first in the Dred Scott decision and then in Kansas—Buchanan had widened the split in his party and the nation.
Dred Scott / Dred Scott Decision
Dred Scott was a Missouri slave sued for his freedom. Dred Scott claimed that his four year stay in the northern portion of the Louisiana Territory (made free land by the Missouri Compromise) had made him a free man in the process. The United States Supreme Court decided he couldn't sue in federal court because he was property, not a citizen.
Lincoln said that slavery was morally, socially, and politically wrong. He did not suggest abolishing slavery where it already existed. Instead, Lincoln argued that slavery should not be expanded. Lincoln thought that it was the national government's duty to prevent the expansion of slavery. Douglas, on the other hand, thought that popular sovereignty was the best way to address the issue because it was the most democratic method.
Popular Sovereignty was the concept that political power rests with the people who can create, alter, and abolish government. People express themselves through voting and free participation in government.
Election of 1860
The election of 1860 set the stage for the American Civil War. The nation had been divided throughout most of the 1850s on questions of states' rights and slavery in the territories. In 1860 this issue finally came to a head, fracturing the formerly dominant Democratic Party into Southern and Northern factions and bringing Abraham Lincoln and the Republican Party to power without the support of a single Southern State.
Harper's Ferry, Virginia
Harper's Ferry, Virginia, was the site of abolitionist, John Brown's, failed raid on the federal arsenal on October 16 and 17, 1859. John Brown intended to arm the slaves, but ten of his compatriots were killed, and Brown became a martyr to his cause after his capture and execution.
Frederick Dougless was one of the most prominent african american figures in the abolitionist movement. Dougless escaped from slavery in Maryland. Dougless was a great thinker and speaker. He published his own antislavery newspaper called "The North Star" and wrote an autobiography that was published in 1845.
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