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Westward Expansion and the Mexican War. HIS 103. Trails to the West. Mexico loosely controlled northern provinces John Frémont & Kit Carson explored Rockies in 1840s Oregon Country jointly ruled by Britain & U.S. Buchanan-Pakenham Treaty (1846) divided Oregon in half at 49 th parallel.

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Trails to the West

  • Mexico loosely controlled northern provinces

  • John Frémont & Kit Carson explored Rockies in 1840s

  • Oregon Country jointly ruled by Britain & U.S.

    • Buchanan-Pakenham Treaty (1846) divided Oregon in half at 49th parallel

Copyright 2000, Bedford/St. Martin’s Press


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Manifest Destiny

  • Coined by N.Y. journalist John O’Sullivan in 1845

  • Symbolized belief that superior white, Christian civilization was destined to rule continent

  • Jackson’s Indian removal policy meant to clear the way for this

  • Ft. Laramie Conference (1851) began process of confining Plains Indians to reservations

American Progress, by

John Gast (1872)


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The Lone Star Republic

  • Adams-Onís Treaty (1819) settled boundary with Mexico & added Florida

  • Mexico permitted American settlement, 1824-1830

    • Organized by empresarios like Stephen Austin

    • 20,000 Americans in Texas by 1830

  • Gen. Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna became dictator of Mexico in 1834

  • Sam Houston led Texas Revolution in 1836

    • The Alamo (Feb. 23 – March 6, 1836) & Goliad Massacre (March 20) spurred rebels

    • Santa Anna captured at San Jacinto (April 21) & forced to grant Texas independence

Copyright 2000, Bedford/St. Martin’s Press

The Alamo


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San Jacinto Monument

Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna


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Annexing Texas

  • Jackson tried to buy all of northern Mexico in 1835, but refused to submit annexation treaty in 1836

  • John Quincy Adams staged 3-week filibuster in 1838 to prevent annexation

  • 1844 annexation treaty defeated when Secretary of State John Calhoun explicitly linked it to defense & expansion of slavery

  • Became key issue in 1844 campaign

    • James Polk demanded Oregon & Texas

    • Henry Clay backpedaled at last minute, costing him N.Y. & election

  • Lame-duck Congress passed joint resolution annexing Texas in 1845

Sam Houston


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Polk Provokes a War

  • John Slidell sent to Mexico, Dec. 1845

    • Offered $25 million for California, New Mexico & territory north of Rio Grande

    • Rejected by resentful Mexican gov’t

  • Polk ordered Gen. Zachary Taylor’s troops to north bank of Rio Grande

    • Nueces River was boundary

    • Claimed “American blood shed on American soil”

  • Whigs opposed war, but voted to fund it to show patriotism


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The Mexican War (1846-1848)

  • Taylor’s army won battles of Monterrey (Sept. 1846) & Buena Vista (Feb. 1847)

  • Winfield Scott led amphibious invasion that captured Mexico City in Sept. 1847

  • John Frémont & Stephen Kearny conquered California & New Mexico

Copyright 2000, Bedford/St. Martin’s Press




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The Results

  • The cost of war:

    • 12,876 U.S. soldiers dead

    • $98 million

    • Junior officers became Civil War generals

  • Treaty of Guadeloupe Hidalgo (1848):

    • U.S. acquired California, New Mexico & rest of Texas (over 500,000 square miles)

    • 75,000 inhabitants would become U.S. citizens if they chose to stay

    • U.S. paid Mexico $15 million & assumed $3.25 million in U.S. citizens’ claims against Mexico

Gen. Zachary Taylor

Gen. Winfield Scott


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War Politicized Slavery Issue

  • Wilmot Proviso

    • David Wilmot was a Pennsylvania Democrat

    • Banned slavery in all territories acquired from Mexico

  • Calhoun Resolutions

    • John C. Calhoun argued territories were common possession of all states & citizens

    • Forbidding slave owners to bring slaves into territories violated 5th Amendment

  • Popular Sovereignty

    • Lewis Cass was a Michigan Whig turned Democrat

    • Argued each territory should decide slavery issue for itself

David Wilmot

Lewis Cass