IX. Polk the Purposeful
Polk laid out a 4-point mission for himself and the nation (then achieved all 4 points in 4 years) Lower the tariff
Restore the independent treasury (put U.S. money into non-government banks) Clear up the Oregon border issue
One of Polk’s acts was to lower the tariff, and his secretary of the treasury, Robert J. Walker, did so, lowering the tariff from 32% to 25% despite complaints by the industrialists.
Despite warnings of doom, the new tariff was followed by good times. He also restored the independent treasury in 1846 and wanted to acquire California and settle the Oregon dispute. Under Polk, the Oregon border issue was settled.
While the Democrats had promoted acquiring all of Oregon during their campaign, after the annexation of Texas, the Southern Democrats didn’t much care anymore.
England and the U.S. had been bargaining for Oregon land to answer, "Where is the border of Oregon?" England first answered 42o latitude; then said the Columbia River The U.S. first answered 54o40' latitude; then said 49o latititude Things were tense for a while, but England realized there were more Americans in Oregon than Brits—their leverage was small.
So, the British proposed a treaty that would separate British and American claims at the **49th parallel (excluding Vancouver), a proposal that Polk threw to the Senate, and which accepted. The U.S. got the better of the deal since
the British second-choice was rejected but the Americans' second-choice was accepted and as with the Maine treaty, the U.S. got a bit more land than England did Those angry with the deal cried, “Why all of Texas but not all of Oregon?” The cold, hard answer was that because Mexico was weak and that England was strong.
X. Misunderstandings with Mexico
Polk wanted California, but this was difficult due to strained U.S.-Mexican relations. After the annexation of Texas, Mexico had recalled its foreign minister, and before, it had been forced to...
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