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westward expansion

By riley19977 Apr 26, 2014 665 Words

In 1803 President Thomas Jefferson purchased Louisiana from the French. The territory stretched from the missisipi river to the rocky mountains, from Canada to New Orleans, completely doubling the size of the U.S. Jefferson believed if the whole country was a good down to earth working class community that it would be the future and uprising of the newly settle country. The Westward expansion is one of the defining themes of the 19th century American history both in positive and destructive ways.

By the 1840s, 40% of the population of the US lived in the expandetery western territories. They left the east to move to the West to become wealthy and successful in the west. They saw the west as a chance to claim land, make money and to create a ‘moving forward’ society. John O’sullivan coined the term ‘Manifest Destiny’. Basically saying that the big shift to the West is what the country needed and that the countries freedom depended on it. The debate discussing whether or not the west would be free or not led to the compromise of Missouri. Missouri was allowed to enter the union as a slave holding state and the new state of Maine was accepted as a free state to maintain a balance of slave and non-slave holding states in congress. Slavery would be outlawed anywhere north of the southern boundary of Missouri throughout the rest of the Louisiana purchase.

However, The Missouri compromise did not apply to new territories, it was not a part of Louisiana purchase so it did not completely solve the issue of slavery. The south grew more dependant on ‘king cotton’ and slavery kept on going. More northeners believed that the south had an unfair advantage because the south had little to no labour costs as to the north they had to emply free people that cost money because of the no slave rule in their land. In 1873, texas joined the union as a slave holding state. This threatened to ruin the balance in congress achieved by thr Missouri compromise. James Polk became president in 1844. He pushed to get texas included as a slave holding state for cheap cotton production in 1846, but oregan (British owned) was added as a free state that same year. This is known as the texas compromise. Polk declared war on mexico falsly claiming that Mexicans had attacked and killed US citizenz on American soil. The Mexican war ended in 1848 with the treaty of Acudelupe Hidalgo which added more than 1 million square miles to the US. (more than he Louisiana purchase.

The compromise had 4 parts:

I. California entered as a free state.
II. The slavery states of the remaining Mexican territory states would be decided by the people who lived there. III. The slave trade would be abolished in Washington D.C.
IV. A new fugitive slave act would allow southerners to reclaim slaves who ha escaped to the north where slavery was abolished.

In 1845 the Illinois senator Stephen douglas proposed 2 new states (Kansas and Nebraska) be established in the Louisiana purchase the west iowa and Missouri. Both of these states are above the southern boarder of Missouri, therefore would be a free state. But no southern senator would approve the plan to give more power to the anti-slave North. Douglas proposed ‘popular sovereignty’ to let those who lived in each state decided their stance on the idea. The north was outraged because they believed the mossouri compromise is being broken because of the north. Missouri citizens flooded the state to vote for slavery. ‘free soil’ settlers (northeners) established a rival government. The state declared war that flared into a civil war and hundreds died during the war. A decade later it was followed by the national civil war with the same issue being one of the main motives.

It follows as Jefferson had predicted, It was the issue of slavery in the west that proved to be ‘the knell of the union’. (the end/death of the union)

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