Manifest Destiny was the belief that the United States was intended by God to rule the entirety of North America.
After it won independence from Spain in 1823, Mexico invited Americans to settle Texas' northern frontier. Why?
The Mexican government had neither the troops nor funds to protect the state from raids by the Comanche Indian Tribe. Mexico hoped that a strong group of settlers along the northern frontier would protect the state.
The American settlers were known as "Texians."
What was the response to Mexico's invitation to Americans to settle in Texas?
The response was overwhelming. By 1830, Americans in Texas outnumbered Mexicans by 3 to 1.
Many Americans arrived from the South, and brought their slaves with them.
Who is considered the Father of Texas?
Stephen F. Austin
Austin, for whom Texas' state capital is named, led the first group of 300 settlers to Texas in 1822, where they set up homesteads along the Brazos River. Following independence from Spain, the new Mexican government ratified the land grants to the new settlers.
In addition to banning further American immigration to Texas in the 1840s, Mexico enacted two laws which enraged American settlers. What were they?
First, Mexico required anyone already living within Mexican territory to convert to Roman Catholicism. Second, Mexico passed legislation barring slavery.
Americans simply ignored both laws. Most slaveowners simply converted their slaves into lifetime indentured servants, a distinction without a difference which only served to irritate Mexican authorities.
How did the Mexican government respond to American settlers' refusal to free their slaves and embrace Roman Catholicism?
The Mexican government banned immigration by Americans, an act Americans simply ignored as they continued to pour over the border.
Who seized power of the Mexican government in 1834?
Antonio de Padua María Severino López de Santa Anna y Pérez de Lebrón, often known as Santa Anna or López de Santa Anna, declared himself dictator in 1834.
Texas declared itself free of the central Mexican government. One of Santa Anna's first acts was to march north to teach the recalcitrant Texians a lesson.
Mexican soliders slaughtered 300 prisoners of war in the _____ _____.
The Goliad Massacre took place along the Texas coast and was one of the two rallying cries of Texians who sought to achieve independence from Mexico. After the massacre, pro-war Americans justified conflict by contending the Mexicans were savages.
In 1836, during the opening campaign of the Mexican-American War, Santa Anna's forces lay siege to the Alamo, a church in modern-day San Antonio. How many Texian soldiers survived the siege?
Although some civilians survived the Alamo siege, no Texian soldiers did. The dead included famous Americans such as Davy Crockett and Jim Bowie.
Rallying to the cry of "Remember Goliad" and "Remember the Alamo," Texian soldiers swarmed into the Army, and a few months later Santa Anna's troops were defeated at the Battle of San Jacinto.
Following the Battle of San Jacinto, General Santa Anna recognized Texas as an independent nation. How did the Mexican government respond?
The Mexicans deposed Santa Anna, and continued to consider Texas an official part of Mexico.
This unsettled state would prevent the American annexation for years, and contribute to the Mexican-American War.
Both Andrew Jackson and Martin van Buren denied requests for annexation from Texas. Why?
Both Presidents were concerned that annexation of the Republic of Texas would lead to war with Mexico. Further, Texas was such a large territory that it was anticipated that the territory would be separated, meaning five separate slave states would come into the Union, engendering fierce political opposition.
A Southerner, President John Tyler had an annexation bill introduced to the Congress, which was rejected despite concerns about growing British influence in the region.
What was the Aroostook War?
In Maine, Canadian and American lumbermen fought over the proper border between Maine and British Canada, an event known as the Aroostook War.
In 1842, Daniel Webster and Lord Ashburton signed a treaty in Washington, fixing the border in its current location (and resolving Minnesota's border as well) by negotiating and signing the Webster-Ashburton Treaty.
What was the slogan of those who sought to annex all of the Oregon Territory, up to the border with Russian America (Alaska)?
54-40 or fight
The term 54-40 referred to the parallel 54°40′ North, Russian America's southern border, and significantly farther north than today's border with Canada. Seizing this territory would have resulted in a war with the British.
When their convention deadlocked between Martin van Buren and John C. Calhoun, which candidate was the Democratic Party's nominee in 1844?
James K. Polk
A Jacksonian Democrat, Polk came out strongly in favor of Oregon's boundary being at 54°40′, and supported Texan annexation, appealing to those who supported Manifest Destiny.
His Whig opponent, Henry Clay, was against Texas annexation before he was for it, and lost yet another bid for the Presidency.
Before Polk could assume office, what action did outgoing President John Tyler take on the Texas annexation issue?
In an act of procedural gamesmanship, Tyler had the entire Congress pass a joint resolution for annexation, which required fewer votes than a Senate measure. Texas was duly annexed, and Polk was left with the challenge of resolving the dispute over Oregon's northern boundary.
Although the United States had threatened to "fight" over the Oregon boundary, it negotiated instead by signing the Oregon Treaty with Great Britain. Where was the boundary of the Oregon Territory set?
The boundary was set at the 49th parallel, a reasonable compromise position.
There was some dispute in the Senate over whether to ratify the Oregon Treaty, but war with Mexico threatened to break out at any moment, and few had a desire to fight two countries simultaneously. The Treaty was duly ratified in 1846.
Almost immediately after he became President, James Polk dispatched diplomat John Slidell to Mexico to negotiate with the Mexican government. Which two issues was Slidell empowered to discuss?
Polk dispatched John Slidell to:
- attempt to buy the New Mexico Territory and California from the Mexican government
- negotiate with Mexico over Texas' southern boundary, which the Mexicans claimed was the Nueces River (today's Corpus Christi) and the Americans claimed was the Rio Grande River (where the border is today)
While John Slidell negotiated prior to the Mexican-American War, Polk backed up his diplomatic initiative with a military display of force. What action did Polk take?
Polk ordered General Zachary Taylor to lead an army into the disputed area between the Nueces River and the Rio Grande River.
A minor skirmish with a Mexican patrol led to the death of 11 U.S. soldiers. Claiming that American lives had been shed on American soil (whether it was American soil, Whigs such as Abraham Lincoln were not so sure), Polk asked Congress for a declaration of war, which Congress duly granted.
What was the Bear Flag Republic?
In June 1846, shortly before the American declaration of war against Mexico, a small group of American settlers near Sacramento proclaimed their own republic, which bore a picture of a grizzly bear on its flag.
Who was John C. Frémont?
Frémont, known as the Pathfinder, was in the Army Corps of Engineers. In June 1846, he was surveying overland routes through the Sierra Nevada mountains.
Once word reached California of the American declaration of war on Mexico, Frémont took command of the small Bear Flag forces.
The Bear Flag Republic lasted only 26 days, before it recognized American sovereignty over California.
During the Mexican-American War, the United States military dominated the Mexican forces. What military strategy did the Army employ?
The Army launched a three-pronged attack:
- Under Stephen Kearney, a group conquered Santa Fe, New Mexico, then proceeded to take Southern California
- A column under Zachary Taylor drove the Mexican Army from Texas, then smashed opposing forces during the Battle of Buena Vista
- Winfield Scott's army landed at Vera Cruz on the Mexican coast, then marched inland, conquering Mexico City in September 1847
What was the Wilmot Proviso?
The Wilmot Proviso (1846) was a measure introduced in the House of Representatives, which attempted to ban slavery from any territory conquered from Mexico. Although the Wilmot Proviso passed the House twice, it failed before the Senate.
Had it passed, the Wilmot Proviso would have modified the Missouri Compromise (1820), and marked the re-introduction of the issue of slavery into American political discourse.
In 1848, the United States and Mexico signed the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. What were its key terms?
In exchange for $15 million and the assumption of the claims of U.S. citizens against Mexico, the United States gained control of the Mexican provinces of California and New Mexico (which included most of what is today the Western United States).
Mexico also recognized the Rio Grande River as Texas' southern border.
The end of the Mexican-American War left many in the United States hungry for further conquest, especially in the South. One of the attempts to further expand U.S. territory was the Ostend Manifesto. What did the Ostend Manifesto attempt?
The Ostend Manifesto was diplomatic correspondence in 1854, relating to the possible purchase of Cuba from Spain, and conveyed a threat of war if Spain refused.
The Manifesto was supposed to be secret, but an American diplomat released it to the public, provoking outcry in the North and ending the attempt.
Southerners had long coveted Cuba as a further slave state, and the Ostend Manifesto was one in a long line of attempts to purchase the island.
The filibusters were American adventurers who attempted to take over other countries, with an eye towards their eventual annexation by the United States.
Cuba saw many such filibustering attempts, and William Walker held Nicaragua for a short period before a coalition of Central American armies deposed him. Many filibusters were Southerners who had a stated goal of expanding slavery's reach.
On behalf of the United States, President Pierce purchased a small strip of land from Mexico in 1853. Why did Pierce make the Gadsden Purchase?
It was hoped that a Southern transcontinental railroad would be built through the area.
Named for the diplomat who negotiated the treaty, the Gadsden Purchase comprised much of southern Arizona and part of southern New Mexico.
Gold was discovered in California in 1848, and by 1849 a large influx of settlers had arrived, hoping to strike it rich. What nickname applied to these settlers?
They were known as 49ers.
In their wake came thousands of more permanent settlers, who followed the overland trails from Missouri to Oregon and California.
Great American Desert
The Great American Desert was the land between the Missouri River and the West Coast. Although much of it was good potential farmland, most of this area was ignored, as settlers headed westward for the fertile fields of California and Oregon.