The Mexican War and Manifest Destiny

The Mexican- American War from 1846 to 1848 helped to accomplish Americans belief in “Manifest Destiny”, the God-given right to assume control of the entire continent from the Atlantic to the Pacific coast. When the Mexica-American war ended, through the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo In 1848, America gained a vast amount of land including California, Texas, and other territories above the Rio Grande River. With new acquisition territory being introduced to the U.S many political and sectional divisions occur periodically, all circulating around the question of slavery.The Mexican-American war is a historical turning point, as political and sectional divisions abrupted as the question of whether America was a country of slavery or a country of freedom arose. Which resulted in a decline of unity and one of America’s most deadly wars: the Civil War. After the Mexican War, the United States gained large parcels of the area in the region, including present time CA, AZ, and New Mexico. Although slavery had been an institution in America since before the revolutionary war, the labor issue which had not been at the forefront of public politics, came to big importance once again. The acquisition of Mexican territory spawned heated political debates over the question of slavery and the admission of the new territories into the union.

The Goldrush, attracted vast amounts of migrants from all over, even from foreign countries such as Japan, with this new gained population California met all regulations to enter the union, and it would attempt to do so as a free state. This further infuriated the south, and the government needed a quick solution to the ease the tensions, in response, they proposed the compromise of 1850. This admitted CA as a free state, called for a stricter fugitive slave act, and ended the slave trade in D.C. Although the compromise may have postponed the Civil War, it was a temporary fix, that soon failed as more territories applied for the union. This is evident in the “Kansas and Nebraska Act” which ultimately led to “bleeding Kansas”. The government was incapable of creating an effective compromise, and the question over slavery divided the nation politically, as the increased debate over “free soil” and expansion of slavery occurred, as well as debates surrounding the Wilmot Proviso. The changes of the party system, including the death of the Whigs in 1850, and the apparent rising of the Republican Party, created a dividing plane amongst political leaders in America. The North and the south were always different, in spite of failed attempts to industrialize the south, in “southern reconstruction”, the sectional tensions emerged from the question of slavery still persisted in Southern culture, and landscape. The North relied on textiles, manufactured through there vast industry, however, the south was much less developed and substantially agricultural: they depended on slave labor to survive. Thus, the south recognized abolition of slavery as a direct threat towards their survival. With the vast amount of acquired land from the Mexican-American War, whether the question of slavery should extend into these territories exploited.

Northerners supported the Wilmot Proviso, which prohibited slavery in any territory acquired in the Mexican- American War.However, Southerners continuously fought against the passage of the proviso. The division even grew violently, and even though for a few years after Compromise of 1850 when sectional conflicts seemed brief to have succeeded amid booming prosperity, but tensions between South and the north remained and burst into open in 1854. Northern opposition to the fugitive slave Act led to mobs preventing law enforcement, and divisions occurred when the North began to pass their own laws barring deportation of fugitive slaves. The Gadsen purchase only accentuated the sectional rivalry between pro-slavery; North and anti-slavery; South. Bleeding Kansas exemplifies violent divisions between the north and the south, as a group of Pro-slavery from Missouri, sacked Lawrence, burned the “governor’s” house and destroyed several printing presses; bleeding Kansas became a symbol of sectional controversy. Through increased violence and different beliefs, the sectional tensions grew. Events such as when John Brown gathered six followers and murdered five pro-slavery settlers, known as the Pottawatomie Massacre, as well as the Harper’s Ferry raid intensified tensions between the north and south, leading to the successions of the southern “fire-eaters”; SC, MS, FL, GA, LA, AL, and TX. In February 1861 representatives of succeeded states met at Montgomery, Alabama and formed the Confederate States of America.

The north and the south were completely divided sections, into the Confederates and the Union, and two months later the civil war erupted, and it is evident to say that it began over the demand for the South to maintain and spread slavery into new land acquired. The questions of slavery haunted Americans and caused a nation division politically and sectionally. As the era of manifest destiny urged Americans to acquire land and achieving this goal through the Mexican-American War cost Americans their unity. The south and the north turned on one another, and although much changed and we are now united, somethings still remain different. Even today the south is very much different from the north. The south is not as dense population wise as compared to the north, the south is more rural, and the south has a different culture; with different accents and better access to guns than the north. This is very similar to the civil rights movement of the 1960s, while women and African Americans fought for social reforms. America experienced a drastic change, they added the 19th amendment, that gave women political status, and the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments, also known as the Civil War Amendments, were designed to ensure equality for recently freed slaves. Although all these changes were made African Americans today still face prejudice, and women in many parts of the world don’t receive equal pay or education in comparison to men.

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The Mexican War and Manifest Destiny. (2019, Jun 17). Retrieved December 1, 2021 , from
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