Sectionalism Due to Western Expansion

Topics: Slavery in the United States, Compromise of 1850, American Civil War Pages: 2 (681 words) Published: March 20, 2013
The Antebellum period from 1800 to 1850 marked a time of sectionalism in American history. Furthermore, new territories gained during western expansion added to this conflict between different sections of America. Southern states wanted new slave territories, while the North wanted to contain the spread of slavery. While Western expansion contributed to growing sectional tensions between the North and South from 1800-1820, sectionalism intensified significantly from 1820-1850.

Since the turn of the nineteenth century, Western territorial expansion started to increase a sense of sectionalism throughout America. President Jefferson obtained the Louisiana purchase from Napoleon in 1803, gaining unfamiliar territory West of the Mississippi River. As Lewis and Clark explored the area, others began to populate it, slowly leading to increased tensions between the North and the South. Soon an act was passed stating that territories with a certain number of inhabitants would be added to the union as newly developed states. Furthermore, During the Adams-Onis treaty with Spain, Florida was peacefully acquired as a state in America, which also increased tension. Eli Whitney’s cotton gin, and King Cotton increased the South’s dependence on slaves to sustain the supply and demand of cotton, while the North favored the containment of slavery; This difference between the territories regarding slavery directly contributed to the sense of sectionalism shared throughout the nation. However the issue of slavery would be postponed due to the War of 1812, and for a while afterwards, America’s shared sense of nationalism overpowered their shared sense of sectionalism.

Around the time of 1820, America’s pride in their victory in the war of 1812 was wearing off, and the balance of nationalism and sectionalism among the nation shifted primarily due to Westward expansion. The Missouri Compromise of 1820, introduced by Henry Clay, allowed for both Maine and Missouri to be admitted into...
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