There were two presidents that did a great deal for our country in the area of expansion. These two presidents are Thomas Jefferson and James K. Polk. Though they had completely different policies on expansion and foreign affairs, both of them vastly expanded the country. Jefferson was a believer in the Monroe Doctrine which basically said we will mind our own busi ness. He was also a very firm believer in a strict interpretation of the constitution. He did not look to vastly expand our country and when the opportunity presented itself he had a hard time making the right decision. The United States was surrounded by European owned areas: England had Canada, Spain had Florida, and France had Louisiana. Fearing a possible war Jefferson strengthened the army especially by Louisiana. This act scared Napoleon, he was in a war with England and didn’t even need the Louisiana Territory, so fearing a war with the U.S. and needing money for his war with England he offered to sell the whole Louisi ana Territory to us for very cheap. Jefferson not sure if the constitution justified the act of making this purchase struggled with the decision.
He decided he didn’t have much of a choice and accepted Napoleons offer. On the other hand, James K. Polk was a firm believer in Manifest Destiny, which was the belief that the United States was predestined to control all of North America. When Polk ran in the 1844 election his campaign slogan was 54-40 or fight. Though he never got that boundary he did get a lot more in different parts of the country. After Texas revolted from Mexico Polk was easy to convince that the U.S. should step in and take Texas from Mexico. Though he wanted Texas he felt that the greatest prize would be California. After Mexico repeatedly declined Polk’s offers to buy Mexico and California Polk sent an army to the Rio Grande. This action led to the Mexican War.
Polk pushed and pushed for Texas and California which after thirteen thousand American lives and fifty thousand Mexican lives were lost he got his land. Both of these presidents expanded the area of our country a tremendously. Jefferson’s policies on expansion kept us out of war and doubled the size of our country with great land that would be much needed in coming years. Polk didn’t keep us out of war but he got us a lot. He gained the United States half a million acres of prime land.
Texas was an excellent producer of cotton and other crops, while Califor nia was abundant in gold causing the gold rush where thousands of men would head west to California in search of gold. Though Polk and Jefferson had almost opposite policies, in the area of expansion, they both ac quired much land for the United States. Jefferson, the believer in the Monroe Doctrine, and Polk the believer in Manifest Destiny, probably would not have agreed with each other but both did a lot of good for our country.