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Chapter 13

The Crisis of the Union
1844–1860

Teaching Resources
Chapter Instructional Objectives
After you have taught this chapter, your students should be able to answer the following questions: 1. How did western expansion become inextricably linked with sectional identity during the 1840s? 2. How and why did southerners change their position on slavery—first claiming it was a “necessary evil,” then defending it as a “positive good”? 3. Why did the United States fight the war with Mexico? What was the larger impact of this war? 4. How and why did divisions within American society during the 1850s bring the Second Party System to an end? 5. What choices were available to Americans in the election of 1860, and why was Abraham Lincoln’s victory significant?

Chapter Annotated Outline
I. Manifest Destiny: South and North A. The Independence of Texas 1. The Adams-Onís Treaty of 1819 guaranteed Spanish sovereignty over Texas. 2. After winning independence from Spain in 1821, the Mexican government, short on population and cash for settling the region, encouraged settlement by Mexicans and by migrants from the United States. 3. As the Mexican government asserted greater political control over Texas in the mid-1830s, the Americans split into two groups: the “peace party,” led by Stephen Austin, wanted more autonomy for the province, and the “war party” wanted independence from Mexico. 4. After provoking a rebellion, the war party

proclaimed the independence of Texas on March 2, 1826, and adopted a constitution legalizing slavery. 5. Vowing to put down the rebellion, Santa Anna’s army wiped out the war party’s rebel garrison that was defending the Alamo and then captured Goliad. 6. Hundreds of American adventurers influenced by press reports and lured by offers of land grants flocked to Texas to join the rebel army. Led by General Sam Houston, the war party routed the Mexicans in the Battle of San Jacinto. 7. The Mexican government abandoned efforts to reconquer Texas, but refused to accept its status as an independent republic. 8. Texans quickly voted for annexation to the United States, but Presidents Jackson and Van Buren refused to act on the issue, knowing that adding Texas as a slave state would divide the Democratic Party and the nation and almost certainly lead to war with Mexico. B. The Push to the Pacific 1. In 1845 John L. O’Sullivan coined the phrase Manifest Destiny; he felt that Americans had a right to develop the entire continent as they saw fit, which implied a sense of cultural and racial superiority. 2. The Oregon country stretched along the Pacific coast from the border with Mexican California to the border with Russian Alaska and was claimed by both Great Britain and the United States. 3. “Oregon fever” raged in 1843 as thousands, lured by reports of fine harbors, mild climate, and fertile soil, journeyed for months across the continent to the Willamette Valley. 4. By 1860 about 350,000 Americans had braved the Oregon Trail; many died en 189

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Chapter 13: The Crisis of the Union, 1844–1860

route from disease and exposure, although relatively few died from Indian attacks. 5. Some pioneers left the Oregon Trail and traveled south along the California Trail, settling along the Sacramento River in the Mexican province of California. 6. To promote California’s development, the Mexican government took over the California missions and liberated the 20,000 Indians who worked on them, many of whom intermarried with mestizos and worked as laborers and cowboys on large cattle ranches. 7. The rise of cattle ranching created a new society and economy as agents from New England firms assimilated to Mexican life and married into the families of the Californios. 8. Many American migrants in California had no desire to assimilate into Mexican society and hoped for eventual annexation to the United States; however, at that time American settlers in California were too few. C. The Fateful Election of...
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