United States History: 1841 to 1877: Westward Expansion & the Civil War (Essentials)
Steven E. Woodworth
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United States History: 1841 to 1877 discusses westward expansion, Texas, the Mexican War, the Compromise of 1850, sectional conflict, the Dred Scott Case, the Lincoln-Douglas debates, the Civil War, and Reconstruction.
Tyler over the next few years the Whigs, under the leadership of Clay, transformed themselves from a loose grouping of diverse factions to a coherent political party with an elaborate organization. One piece of important legislation that did get passed during Tyler’s administration was the Preemption Act (1841), allowing settlers who had squatted on unsurveyed federal lands first chance to buy the land (up to 160 acres at low prices) once it was put on the market. 1.2 THE WEBSTER-ASHBURTON
(the nation’s first) were resorted to, yet even more money was needed. The Treasury Department, under Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase, issued “greenbacks,” an unbacked fiat currency that nevertheless fared better than the southern paper money because of greater confidence in northern victory. To facilitate the financing of the war through credit expansion, the National Banking Act was passed in 1863. The South, with its scant financial resources, found it all but impossible to cope
General Zachary Taylor. After badly defeating larger Mexican forces at the battles of Palo Alto (May 7, 1846) and Resaca de la Palma (May 8, 1846), Taylor advanced into Mexico and defeated an even larger Mexican force at the Battle of Monterey (September 20-24, 1846). Then, after substantial numbers of his troops had been transferred to other sectors of the war, he successfully withstood, though badly outnumbered, an attack by a Mexican force under Antonia Lopez de Santa Anna at the Battle of
York, who spoke of a “higher law” than the Constitution, forbidding the spread of slavery, to southern extremists such as Calhoun or Senator Jefferson Davis of Mississippi. By mid-summer all seemed lost for the Compromise, and Clay left Washington exhausted and discouraged. Then the situation changed dramatically. President Taylor died (apparently of gastroenteritis) July 9, 1850, and was succeeded by Vice President Millard Fillmore, a quiet but efficient politician and a strong supporter of
North-South lines as a result of the battle over the Compromise of 1850, was beginning to come apart. The Free Soil party’s candidate, John P. Hale of New Hampshire, fared poorly, demonstrating the electorate’s weariness with the slavery issue. 2.6 PIERCE AND “YOUNG AMERICA” Americans eagerly turned their attention to railroads, cotton, clipper ships, and commerce. The world seemed to be opening up to American trade and influence. President Pierce expressed the nation’s hope that a new era of