During the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries the United States saw many problems come and go. Some problems were more important than others, however all led to further division of American politics. The most divisive issue in American politics during this time frame was the idea of Manifest Destiny, or territorial expansion.
Manifest Destiny was the idea that it was the United States’ destiny to take over all of North America from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Most of the public was in favor of territorial expansion, though some politicians felt it contradicted the constitution.
Strict constructionists were against territorial expansion, while loose constructionists felt expansion was the United States’ destiny. Strict constructionists centered their platform around the fact that the constitution never directly states that the federal government has the right to acquire land. Those that view the constitution liberally, or loose constructionists, counter that stand by claiming the right of expansion falls under the government’s implied powers. Loose constructionists and strict constructionists are the main divisive factor for the United States political parties: the democrats and the whigs. One of the supporters of Manifest Destiny was, democrat, James Polk who served as president from 1844 to 1848.
Polk was strongly in favor of expanding the United States to the Pacific. This opinion won him the election of 1844. That year Henry Clay, a well known and loved figure in American politics, ran and was expected to blow, little known, Polk of the charts. The only problem was Clay was nervous about territorial expansion. He did not want was with Mexico and was unsure of the constitutionality of expanding. Polk won because the majority of the public believed in Manifest Destiny.
Along with influencing presidential elections, Manifest Destiny played a role in the slavery issue. Entering the mid eighteen hundreds slavery was a very sensitive subject, and some of the bad feelings that caused this sensitivity were caused by territorial expansion. With...