James K. Polk And Manifest Destiny

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James K. Polk was elected as president of the United States in 1848 and with him he brought a determination to expand territory more than any other president had before. In his one term administration he expanded the country by two-thirds. Polks hunger for more land resulted in a war with Mexico over Texas which evoked lots of opposition from the Whig party. The idea of Manifest Destiny was germinating throughout Democrats everywhere, countering the Whig ideology of “true republicanism”. They believed “A nation cannot simultaneously devote its energies to the absorption of others’ territories and the improvement of its own,” (pg, 49). Polk ignored this belief and soon John C. Fremont was declaring California independent and Stephen Watts Kearny was leading his army to several victories south of the Rio Grande. Nicholas Trist was able to get Mexico to sign the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, recognizing the Rio Grande boundary of Texas and ceding New Mexico and upper Californian to the US. Now that this triumph of Manifest Destiny was complete, the question of expanding slavery to the newly acquired territories arose. Polk assumed there would not be slavery there because it would simply not work in the natural conditions of the lands but southerners strongly disagreed. Northern congressmen tried to pass a resolution known as the Wilmot Proviso to exclude slavery from the new territory, extremely infuriating southerners and dividing the parties into a conflict of sections.
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