American History 1
March 3, 2012
James Polk: The Man that Caused the Civil War
During the 1800’s, slavery was becoming an increasingly bigger issue. This issue started to cause social tensions about whether African-American slaves should be freed or not while the underlying political problem with this was whether new states should be entered in as a slave state or free. During James Polk’s presidency, the US obtained a large amount of land from the Mexican-American War. James Polk’s wanted slavery in the new territory. James Polk being pro-slavery inflamed social debates about slavery and fueled tensions that led to the Civil War. (Wikipedia Contributors) Being born into a slave-owning family, it was natural for Polk to have pro-slavery views. His father was a southern plantation owner and all of James Polk’s siblings and himself were given his father’s slaves when he died. He sent these slaves to a plantation his father gave him and steadily earned money. Eventually he sold the
plantation and bought another one in Mississippi that he ran as a plantation owner. Obviously Polk saw economic benefits of slavery as many southerners did. (Merry) Polk was known for his belief in Manifest Destiny: the idea that it was the United States’ destiny to expand west. He wanted to acquire the California and New Mexico land from Mexico before European countries could. He sent representatives down to Mexico to negotiate for the land, but when the Mexican citizens found out he was not received by the Mexican government. Polk saw this at a clear incentive for war. (Merry) (Wikipedia Contributors)
At the end of the war, the United States was given over one million acres, more than Polk had originally wanted. Eventually, the Wilmot Proviso brought up the issue of slavery in these new states. This was to ban slavery in the new states gained from the Mexican-American War. Now this put President Polk into a tough position. If it...