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The Acquisition of the Oregon Territory Essay

In th1840s, a complex controversial mix of economic, political and social factors triggered America to expand its boundaries. Many Americans desired and supported their country to occupy as much land on the continent as possible. These Americans saw profitable economic opportunities in this stretches of arable land, pacific coast ports and others dreamed of settling in this beautiful terrains. They also wanted their country to be a front runner in its rapid expansion across the continent before other foreign nations.

These Americans expansionalist desires were the main reason which fueled America to extend its original boundaries and acquire massive territories in the southwest and on the pacific coast as well in Texas and Oregon. This acquisition was the principal objective of American foreign policy in1845. (Griswold, D. C. , Richard1990) The Oregon country was the land located north of California and Westside of the Rocky Mountains. Earlier in the sixteenth century the territory was claimed by many countries like Spain, Russia, Britain and the Unites States.

By mid 1820 Spain and Russia surrendered their claim on Oregon, leaving only America and Britain, who agreed on a joint occupation of the territory and allowed citizens of their countries to settle, this agreement ended in1846. The Oregon settlers from Britain and America were very different groups. British settlers were mainly fur traders associated with the Hudson Bay Company while American settlers were very diverse people with different goals and thoughts. The arrival of the protestant missionaries into the Willamette valley in 1830 marked the beginning of the American settlement .

American desire for fertile soil of the region spread rapidly to the east and triggered massive migration of thousands of Americans westwards along the Oregon trail. This massive settlement scared the Britain those citizens fur trading activities were declining in the area. British government advocated for a negotiated settlement in this Oregon issue. After winning elections president Polk one of his major foreign policy was the settlement of the Oregon issue with Britain, among other policies like annexation of Texas and the acquisition of California from Mexico.

Negotiation between Britain and the United States over the Oregon territory began in 1845. Initially American negotiators proposed that boundary to be drawn at the forty-nine parallel, bisecting Vancouver Island but British negotiator rejected this proposal. This made President Polk to campaign for more territory and threatened British by announcing the America intention to terminate the joint occupancy agreement within a year. Americans north expansionalist supported Polk’s provocative actions but southerners cautioned that they could not risk going to war with Britain over Oregon territory .

British leaders were also against any conflict and considered their important economic relationship with the United States over Oregon. In June 1846 America senate quickly approved the Oregon treaty with Britain, settling the boundaries at the forty-ninth parallel with the exception of Vancouver island which entirely by the Britain. (Griswold, D. C. Richard 1990) In 1846 a war erupted between the U. S. and Mexico. Triggered by land-hungry North Americans, who wanted to obtain trading ports on the pacific coast and spread from Atlantic to pacific.

US-Mexico war was because of unresolved conflicts between Mexico and Texas. After gaining independence form Mexico in1836, Texas was annexed by America in 1845. However the southern and the western bounders of Texas remained disputed. Tension between the two countries increased when U. S. government offered to pay off Mexican debt to American settlers if Mexico allowed the U. S. to purchase the territories of Alta, California and New Mexico from Mexico. Mexico lost most of its land in the war to America leaving it bitter and very unhappy with America. U. S.

victory brought a huge patriotism in its efforts to acquire more land westwards. The country had already acquired the southern half of the Oregon country in 1846 in its policy of expansionalist and fulfilling its citizen’s belief in their country’s manifest destiny. The signing of the Guadalupe treaty started the Mexican cession in 1848. The treaty was about giving up Texas, California among other states. This agreement made Mexico loose almost half of its territory. The U. S. in return gave Mexico fifteen million dollars and promised to protect all Mexican living in Texas and in the Mexican cession.

Although some senators in US criticized US and said it had no right to grab Mexican land, a few years later US needed more flat land for building railway line hence it purchased more land from Mexico and Americans were very happy with the new expanded America boundaries. (Griswold D. C. , Richard 1990) The End of The War of and Missouri controversy Events The war of 1812 was specifically a war fought between the United States of America and the British Empire particularly great Britain and British North America provinces as well as antecedent Canada.

The war base was mainly on the Atlantic ocean and on the land, coasts and waterways of north America and it was fought between 1812 to1815. The united states started the war for various reasons; First British had introduced various trade restrictions to stop America from trading with their long-time rival(France). America contested this restrictions as illegal under international law. Most important, America wanted to protect and maintain its national honor in the face of what they considered as British insults.

The war of 1812 ended with no involvement of major geographical changes, except Carleton Island which was captured buy the United States and it was never returned. There were no more policy changes. The end of the war affected America in different ways; first during the war especially in 1814 things were tough for America and it was facing a near disaster, but it emerged victorious in the battles of New Orleans and Baltimore hence a successful fight against Britain increased its national patriotism and assisted in uniting America in to one nation.

The best known patriotism legacy of the war was the star spangled banner which was later used by America army during flag raising ceremony and later the congress made the U. S. national anthem. Although United States never got complete victory after the end of the war but the war real affected America positively because American saw the war as evidence in success of their democratic experience. The war paved way for a period of American history known as the era of good feelings, a time when most Americans felt united behind a common purpose.

The war was a sign of assurance that the country as in a position to defend itself from any foreign threat hence now it was time to focus on its expansion at home. It demonstrated how American government, military and naval forces and the patriotism of the people were effective and performing. it led to later election of war heroes presidents like Andrew Jackson among others These war heroes election was entirely influenced by their military fame during the war.

The war also indirectly caused the decline of federalist power, it also acted as an awareness to the United States that their was need for professionalism in the Us army, this was a significant development because it enabled the training of officers at the U. S. military academy. The Missouri compromise was an agreement passed in 1820 between pro-slavery and anti-slavery factions in America’s congress. Its aim was to regulate slavery in the western territories It prohibited slavery in the former Louisiana territory .

Missouri controversy created a dispute involving the competition between southern and northern states for power in congress and control over future territory hence this intensified the division between the two American factions. (Griswold D. C. , Richard 1990) Southerners Support for Slavery In the period towards the civil war, seventy-five percent of white southerners did not own slaves, considering the number of non-slave holders in the antebellum south, even though southern whites supported slavery. Circumstances in the newly formed southern states were different.

The African American population both slave and free was much larger. In Virginia and South Carolina nearly half of the population was of African decent, infant according to historians South Carolina had a black majority population throughout its pre-civil history. Other southern states also had large black minorities. Because of their deep-rooted racial discrimination and ignorance about the complex African culture from which many slaves were from, the southern white were convinced that free black Americas could be a threat to white survival.

The southern white support for slavery was because they believed that slavery was crucial and a necessary tool to control the African America race. In the Southern states slaves played a major economic role. Most of the southern states depended on agriculture as their main economic activity. States like Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, The Carolinas and Georgia, generated their wealth from the cash crop they grew hence many white southerners believed that the backbreaking hard labor needed to produce tobacco, cotton, rice and indigo, which were the regions major cash crops were Blackman’s responsibility but not the white men.

Because of the above reasons, the southerners’ whites were determined to retain slaves even after the revolution. This laid the foundation of the dangerous division between the free states and the slave states that later lead to sectionalism and civil war. In the southern states slaves were divided into three stages; Developmental, high profit and decade. In the developmental stage slaves were used as cheap sources of labor. They were forced to work on dangerous places during extremely hard labor like clearing virgin land for plantation, building of dams, dikes roads and any other building necessary for plantation.

The southerners also used slaves successfully as source of labor in factories such as the Tredgar iron works in Richmond. Slaves were also used to do very hard labor in the salt mines and turpentine plants of North Carolina, the coal mines of western Virginia and the sugar mills of Louisiana. The southerners confined black American slaves in the rural areas to provide labor and as a mean of population control. (Griswold. D. C. , Richard 1990) How the Events of 1850s caused Civil War

Some historians argue that slavery was the main cause of civil war, however there are a series of events in the 1850s that set the United States on an evitable advancement towards the civil war. The American civil war was a war between American states. Eleven southern states declared their secession from the United States and formed the confederate state of America. These states led by Jefferson Davis fought against the United States (the union) which was supported by all the Free states and the five Border States.

Election of Lincoln was the final trigger for secession in 1860. Efforts which were going on to compromise the southern and the northern like the Corwin amendment and the Crittenden compromise failed completely. Southern leaders feared that President Lincoln would stop the expansion of slavery and put it on a course towards extinction. The slave states after the election of Lincoln were the minorities in the house of the representatives and it was evident in future they will remain minority in the senate and Electoral College against an increasingly powerful north.

Even before Lincoln took office seven slave states had already declared their secession and joined together to form the confederacy. Tariffs and the nullification crisis; Industries in the north expanded and hoped to sell their goods to the southern market, which was rich with money from the profitable agricultural business. To the northern surprise the southerners did not buy their products, they imported cheaper goods. To protect the northern industries Jackson imposed heavy taxes on many of the imported goods that could be manufactured in the north.

States like South Carolina passed the ordinance of nullification in November 1832, refusing to collect the tariff and threatened to withdraw from the union. Jackson ordered federal troops to Charleston; a secession crisis was averted when congress revised the tariff of abomination in February 1833. (Griswold, D. C. , Richard 1990) Economic changes; there was a huge disparity between the northern and southern economies, this created tension and panic between the two unions. Before and after the depression the economy of the south prospered.

Southern agricultural products, especially cotton which totaled over half of all American exports before the war. The panic of 1857 devastated the north, and left the south virtually untouched. There arose a clash of the wealthy agricultural south and poorer, industrial north. This clash was intensified by abolitionists who were using class struggle to further their cause. Breakdown of political systems; the political process in America became disintegrated. There arose division in political parties and part members become rebellious against themselves.

Even in national politics things were the same. Fights and fields were common in political arenas. Between 1837-1861, eight people become president, but none of them served for more than a single term in office. New political parties rose up with funny names like constitutional union, free-soilers and republican. Democrats for instance in Georgia were strong, but factional fighting broke the party along pro-union and states rights lines. Whig party disintegrated in early 1850 increasing the political turmoil in America.

People like former speaker Howell Cobb mobilized pro-union democrats, most from north Georgia to take over the government in 1851, after his attempt to end slavery failed. The increasing power of the west and self-serving politicians like Stephen Douglas dominated the political environment as the north and the south battled for philosophical control. United states become divided in many issues including slavery. Slavery was viewed as a southern institution, the modification of the cotton gin in 1793 created a greater demand for slaves hence the institution of slavery prospered instead of declining.

The northerners banned the practice in the North West territories; hence this intensified the conflict over slavery leading to civic war. (Griswold D. C. Richard1990) The United States constitution is the world’s longest surviving written charter of the government, it was written in 1787, ratified in 1788 and has been in operation since 1789. It strengthens the national government and made the union of the America more perfect as well as declaring its supremacy to the state.

During the first eleven years under the constitution, United States was not completely united because events which later lead to the civil war occurred when United States was still under constitution. The American constitution clearly establishes the supremacy of the national government over the state, on condition it remained within constitutional parameters, but the new America under the constitution was not fully united, because most events that triggered civil war occurred in the face of the new constitution.

When Lincoln was elected into the office, most of the southern states and particularly, South Carolina triggered a wave of secession by declaring its intention of leaving the union, These southern states justified secession arguing that the northern states were uncooperative with the fugitive slave clause of the US constitution, and the federal government had no right to restrict property rights and specifically the southern states rights to own slaves.

The southerners further argued that United States voluntarily entered into the constitutional union in the founding era; hence the deep South reasoned they were at liberty to leave the union at their own pleasure.

United States under the constitution was not united because the constitution allowed the federal government to oppress its citizens by imposing high taxes, In addition the federal government was unwilling to listen to its law abiding citizens hence this was one of the causes of division in America whish later resulted to the civil war. (Griswold D. C. Richard1990) Work Cited Page Griswold D. C. , Richard (1990), The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo: A legacy of conflict, University of Oklahoma press, Norman.


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