Manifest Destiny:. The Oregon Country. Rivalry in the Northwest. The Oregon country was the huge area that lay between the Pacific Ocean and the Rocky Mountains north of California.
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Many believed that the United State’s mission was to spread freedom by occupying the entire continent.
In the 1840s New York newspaper editor John O’Sullivan put the idea into more specific words declaring it was America’s, “Manifest Destiny to overspread and to possess the whole of the continent which Providence has given us.”
Between 1840 and 1845, the number of American settlers in the area increased from 500 to 5,000 while the British population remained at 700.
James K. Polk received the Democratic Party’s nomination for president in 1844 partly because he supported American claims for sole ownership of Oregon.
Democrats campaigned using the slogan “Fifty-four Forty or Fight,” meaning that they believed the this should be the nation’s northern border.
Henry Clay of the Whig Party, Polk’s principal opponent, did not take a strong position on the Oregon issue, and the anti-slavery Liberty Party took so many votes from Clay, that Polk won the election.