During the 1800s, the United States more than tripled in size, covering the entire width of the continent. Throughout this period, they united states acquired land through several different methods including the Louisiana purchase of 1803, the war of 1812, the trail of tears, the Mexican cession, and the compromise of 1850. Each of which came with its own group of supporters and opponents with different reasons of why or why not.
However, every debate ultimately led to the United States government’s actions, which has shaped the federal policies into what they are today. In 1803, Robert Livingston negotiated the Louisiana Purchase with authority from Thomas Jefferson. Because Thomas Jefferson was a democratic-republican, many federalists were against the purchase, stating, “The constitution is silent on the subject of the acquisition of territory. By the treaty we acquire territory; therefore, the treaty is unconstitutional. (Doc A) however, ironically, the federalists were known for having a loose interpretation of the constitution, and, instead, Jefferson was the one who had a hard time with the strict interpretation of the constitution on the issue. Other excuses brought up by the federalists against the issue of the Louisiana purchase were the threat that the, now bordering, Spanish now posed against the United States due to the standing army that Spain had, and because it would “destroy with a single operation the whole weight and importance of the eastern states”.Despite the opposition by the federalists, Jefferson was able to pass the Louisiana Purchase in congress, as the benefits of the extreme bargain far outweighed the excuses that the federalists were offering; thus, giving many citizens the hoped of a new beginning in the west and the start of the westward expansion.
Although the war of 1812 did not acquire more land for the United States, it helped to clear the way for expansion by removing the British from United States territory, thus clearing the way for American expansion.Not only did the war remove the British but it also led to the demise of the Federalist Party. On June 4, 1812 when the United States House of Representatives voted for war, most of those who voted for it were from the south and west, while most who voted against came from the New England, where the Federalist Party had control. (Doc B) This led to the Hartford convention of 1814 and ultimately the disbanding of the Federalist Party.
During the 1830s, under presidents of Andrew Jackson and Martin Van Buren, 25 million acres of land was opened up for white settlers due to the anti-Indian and expansionist policy.The Choctaw, Chickasaw, creek, Seminole, sac and fox, and lastly the Cherokee were removed from their native lands and relocated by seven routes over land and sea to reservations east of the Mississippi river, along these routes, named the trail of tears, the thousands of Native Americans died. (Doc D) All of which was “justified” by Lewis Cass, stating that Native Americans had “resisted every effort to meliorate their situation … and in the whole circle of their existence, it would be difficult to point to a single advantage which they have derived from their acquaintance with the Europeans. (Doc C) although most were for the removal, there were some supporters for the keeping of the lands.In Worchester vs.
Georgia, john marshal ruled that the Cherokee could keep their land, but despite the ruling, Andrew Jackson forces them out and along the trail of tears; stating that the native Americans were an impediment to the westward expansion. In 1845, James Polk became the 11th president of the United States, and with him, he brought a plan to achieve “manifest destiny”; a term coined by john L. O’Sullivan in July of 1845, stating that the United States have a divine responsibility to take the entire continent.
Prior to Polk however, an eagle ma of the united states was created in 1833, which showed the united stated wish to expand, (doc E) and Texas was annexed into the United states by James Tyler in 1844. During the election in 1844, James Polk’s campaign was 54? 40? or fight, alluding to the acquisition of Oregon.In 1844, Thomas Hart Benton stated that acquiring Oregon would allow for trade with Asia.
Although the united stated did acquire Oregon, they did not acquire it at the 54? 40? mark, but rather at the 49? as well as, through the Webster Ashburton treaty, a higher border for Maine. Overall, from the Louisiana Purchase to Webster Ashburton treaty, the highly debated issue of territorial expansion has caused numerous changed to the United States and its policies towards expansion.