The Territorial Sxpansion of the United States in the 1840’s
Throughout 1815 to 1860, the USA changed faster than in the previous
200 years. It was seen as the land of opportunities and masses of
Europeans migrated to the USA. Population figures doubled every 25
years. The number of states rised from 18 in 1815, to 30 by 1860. The
agrarian society was soon replaced by a growing capitalist and
commercial economy and there were advancements in transport and
communication. Cities grew and the country was divided into three main
sectors- agrarian west: mass immigration and industrial revolution in
the Northeast and the slaveholding south. People moved westwards
searching for new lives and opportunities.
One of the reasons for territorial expansion had to do with “The
In 1840, territorial expansion reached a peak due to British threat
and manifest destiny.
The term Manifest Destiny was first used by Congressman Robert
Winthrop and then made popular by newspaper publisher John O'Sullivan
in the 1840's. It meant that it was Gods “will” Americans to spread
throughout the USA.
From the day Mexico won independence from Spain in 1822, it offered
liberal land grants to whites who where willing to move there, this
attracted over 20,000 by 1830.
In the 1844 election, candidates Henry Clay and Van Buren, who was
replaced by Polk, kept Texas out of their campaign. Politics in
America, were much more democratic than in Europe. In the USA,
Taylor’s victories led to great enthusiasm in the West where
expansionism ran high. Polk became President and after several
disturbances, America declared war on Mexico on May 13th, 1846. The
Mexican War was described as a plot to strengthen the slave-power and
acquire more slave territory. It was looked up as a shameful blot on
the American record.
Expansion of slavery was another important reason that led to
territorial expansion. Eli Whitney’s invention of the Cotton Gin in
1793, made cotton production easier and more profitable, enabling it
to spread from the Southeast into the old Indian lands of the west.
The South was transformed by the expansion of cotton production. Due
to the rise of textile industry in England, a huge demand for cotton
was created. Cotton production rose from 3000 bales in 1790, to a
100,000 in 1801 and nearly 4 million in 1860. This caused the
revitalization of slavery, which was a lucrative business, especially
during the Civil War. The south’s economic dependence was mainly due
to slavery. Illegal imports of slaves from Africa, led to a
substantial rise in population.
It wasn’t until 1794, when the first hard-surfaced road connected
Philadelphia and Lancaster led to transport improvement and therefore
a general improvement of communication. Without transport improvement,