Manifest Destiny The expansion of the United States from its thirteen original colonies to the nation it is today was a very extensive process, involving numerous wars and treaties. The greatest one of these expansion periods occurred from the 1830s to the 1860s, largely due to the idea of Manifest Destiny, the belief that American settlers were destined to expand across the continent to the Pacific coast.
This development played a major role in dividing the North and the South by contributing to contrasting ideologies of the two regions towards social and economic foundations of he new territory, and would eventually lead up to the Civil War, literally dividing the nation into two. Territorial expansion fashioned racial and social divisions in the American society due to slavery, created new enemies for the States as a result of the annexation of Texas against the will of Mexico, and endangered the harmony between the North and the South by cause of the Dred vs.
Scott decision. Slavery, considered somewhat unethical in the North, flourished in the South, mainly due to the fact that the entire economy of the southern states depended largely on slave labor in the cotton and sugar fields. As the soil of the Old South was used numerous times causing it to lose many of its nutrients, plantation owners and farmers moved on to the New South, the land stretching from present day Georgia to Texas, an area much larger and more suited to process cotton than the Chesapeake colonies.
As more and more people migrated to the region in hope of becoming a successful farmer and becoming rich, the area became highly dense with slaves and wore out the soil very quickly. The invention of the cotton gin made it easier to harvest cotton, causing slave owners to buy more slaves and plant more plants, ventually causing them to need more land. This caused the southerners to pursue territorial expansion westward. The answer to many of these problems was the annexation of Texas, which Mexico considered a part of itself despite the Revolution of 1836.
The northern states were largely opposed to the annexation of Texas because of the widespread fear of a war against Mexico and the danger of slavery growing; as Reverend William Ellery Charming wrote: “l proceed now to… what is to me the strongest argument against annexing Texas… This measure will extend and erpetuate slavery… ” (Document B). This disagreement led to some internal tension between the North and the South. The dispute over the borders of the new Republic of Texas and Mexico were never officially settled in 1835.
Texas claimed the territory all the way to the Rio Grande River, whereas Mexico claimed that it only gave up the land past the Nueces River. After annexing Texas as the 28th state into the union in 1845, President James Polk claimed the border at the Rio Grande River, which provoked the Mexican-American War. The war was Justified by irrational reasons; for xample, an editor of the New York Sun wrote: “The [Mexican] race is perfectly accustomed to being conquered… e shall teach [them] that our victories will give liberty, safety, and prosperity… ” (Document H). After a year and a half of conflict, the war ended with the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo in 1848, creating the Texan-Mexican border at the Rio Grande River and increasing the area of the United states Dy almost Oue to tne lana galnea In tne Mexlcan cession. Altnougn, efforts were made to prevent slavery from flourishing in Texas, it was declared a slave tate due to the Missouri Compromise of 1820.
This enraged northerners as Texas was a gigantic state compared to any other state at the time; this would keep the House of Representatives in balance with slave states and free states but would allow slavery to grow tremendously over the period of the next few decades. The annexation of Texas put a big dent in the relationship between the North and the South. On the opposite side of the Mexican Cession, in the North-West, the Oregon Country was held in “Joint occupation” between Britain and the United States due to the Treaty of 1818.
British trappers, farmers, and missionaries started settling in the Oregon Country starting in the 1830s. As there was no central government in the region, the residents of the region started meeting to discuss organizing a government for the area. This led to the American government being concerned and encouraging American citizens to migrate to the Oregon Country in order to prevent the British immigrants from taking over. As Thomas Hart Benton said in his speech in the U. S. Senate. . ??? ” the Government… will give protection and land… Let the emigrants go on… hey will make all quite there… rive [the British] off our continent, quiet their Indians, and protect the American interests… ” (Document A). One of the first migrations of U. S. citizens into the area was in 1839 when a group of 18 men set out to settle the area on behalf of the American government; this was followed by The Great Migration of 1843 when almost a thousand emigrants left for Oregon. Following the inauguration of James K. Polk as president after the election of 1844, the border of the Oregon Country was finally settled at 490 latitude, despite the riginal demand of 54040′ latitude, in an agreement known as the Treaty Line of 1846.
Emigrants flooded into the area in thousands, partly due to the California Gold Rush which started in 1849 but brought wealth to only a few. As more and more people migrated into the area, southerners started bringing slaves along with them, despite California being a free state. This, combined with the Compromise of 1850 which required all states to return run-away slaves to their owners due to the Fugitive Slave Act, enraged abolitionist and anti-slavery societies in the North causing a strain in he relations between northern and southern states.
As more Americans moved westwards, many unsettled territories started being settled. Two of these territories were Kansas and Nebraska, set up in the Kansas- Nebraska Act of 1854 by Stephen Douglas. Despite the Missouri Compromise, the state government allowed voters to choose if they allowed slavery within each territory; this voting method later became known as Popular Sovereignty. Although both states were considered free states, this led to the Bleeding Kansas, a series of political confrontations about whether Kansas should enter the Union as a slave state r a free state.
After a very lengthy debate, Kansas entered the Union as a free state, angering southern slave owners. This was reversed in the Dred Scott vs. Sanford case; it was brought to the Supreme Court when a slave, who was brought to a free state by his owner, tried to sue him and gain freedom. Although this was a huge failure due to the Supreme Court ruling that blacks, free or slaves, should not be considered American citizens and thus could not sue in court, it sparked wide public aeoates over slavery an IT t a ne Drea Scott vs. sanTora aeclslon was constltutlonal or ot.
As it was determined to be unconstitutional, the decision to the case rendered many U. S. citizens angry due to the government breaking a constitutional law. This, in turn, angered many northerners over the fact that the government supported slavery, severely damaging the connections and associations between the North and the South. As the mid-1800s gradually went by, many events changed the relations, for the better and the worse, between the northern and southern states. Different points of views, like these, on numerous different things would eventually be the cause of he Civil War in the 1860s.
Although, it united and expanded the country after the Civil War, manifest destiny divided the United States in the mid-19th century by incorporating to contrasting philosophies about social, political, and economical foundations of the new regions gained by the United States within that time period. Territorial expansion shaped many types of social divisions in the American society due to slavery, created new enemies for the States as a result of the annexation of Texas, and severed the relations between the North and the South because of the Dred vs. Scott decision.