Causes Of Early American Expansionism Essay

1016 words - 5 pages

The Western United States, Texas, and the northern territories of the Mexican Empire served as an area of expansionist controversy between 1820 and 1860. Expansionism of antebellum America was rooted in a number of current disputes casing it to evolve into a major political issue. Although slavery was a cause of expansion, it was just as important as other; spread of American institutions, Manifest Destiny, and the protection and prosperity of the nation were equally important. Slavery in itself as a cause was rooted in greater causes.
The spread of American institutions was a major cause of western expansion in the United States. According to editor of the New York Sun (Document H), American expansion will lead to the spread of the American ideals of democracy, liberty, and republicanism to the West and the “Mexican race”. The spread of democracy and American ideals was commonly used as a Casus Belli, that is a cause of or “excuse” for war, for past and future wars. This is clearly reminiscent of the War Hawks call to invade Canada. This also served as the first case of it being used for American imperialism which the Mexican-American War is the first act of. This was later to be succeeded by the imperialism of the American seizure of Hawaii and the Spanish-American War. According to President James Polk in his inaugural address (Document F), the American nation and government should expand west to reunite with American settlers through communication, trade, and manufacturing. Charles Summer (Document G) and Reverend William Ellery Channing (Document B) both believed that expansion into Texas merely an excuse by southerners to spread the institution of slavery. This works in conjunction with southern Senator George McDuffie’s (Document C) call for annexation of Texas to spread and therefore protect slavery. The issue of slavery leads into the Era of Reform. The Reform Era saw thousands of activists campaigning for the creation of new institutions such as common schools or the elimination of others such as slavery. This led to the question of what intuitions should be spread and which shouldn’t. The issue of slavery was rooted in questions of the Reform Movements.
Manifest Destiny was one of the main causes of expansion in the western half of the continent. According John O’Sullivan (Document D), the American nation should expand as it already had begun as it is the “natural flow of events”. His thoughts are in accordance of the belief of Manifest Destiny. Manifest Destiny is the belief that it was the fate of the American people to conquer and control the entire American continent with it being ordained by God himself. As John O’Sullivan was a democrat, it was natural he believed in it as it was a main tenant of the Democrat Party of the 1840s. According to Thomas Hart of Missouri (Document A), the American people should expand as they please, the government will follow and if necessary go to war with Great Britain over the Oregon country. His...

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