Page:The Harvard Classics Vol. 51; Lectures.djvu/55

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England and France used their influence to keep it independent. California, moreover, furnished reason for apprehension, for England had shown an interest in its fate, as Mexico, torn by internal dissensions, gave evidence that her outlying provinces were likely to drop from her nerveless hands.

The slavery contest now interrupted the old American expansive tendencies, for while the South raised its voice of warning against the possibility of a free Texas under British protectorate and demanded its annexation, the Whigs and anti-slavery men of the North, alarmed at the spread of slavery and the prospect of new slave States, showed opposition to further territorial acquisition in the Southwest. But in the election of 1844, which was fought on the issues of the "reoccupation of Oregon and the reannexation of Texas," Polk, a Tennessee Scotch-Irishman, representing the historic expansive spirit, won the Presidency. Texas was annexed as a State under a joint resolution of Congress in 1845, before Polk was inaugurated, and immediately thereafter he determined that if Mexico made this annexation an occasion for war, she should be compelled to cede us California and her other Southwestern lands as the price of peace.


He compromised the Oregon question with England by the Treaty of 1846, accepting the forty-ninth parallel as the boundary, in spite of the campaign cry of "fifty-four forty or fight." The same year the Mexican war began, in which American troops overran California and the intervening land.

With the American flag floating over the capital of Mexico, a strong movement began to hold Mexico itself, or at least additional territory. But by the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo[1] in 1848 the line was drawn along the Gila River and from its mouth to the Pacific. Agitation for a southern route to the Pacific led to the further acquisition of a zone south of the Gila by the Gadsden Purchase of 1853.

By these annexations between 1846 and 1853 the United States gained over 1,200,000 square miles of territory. Gold was discovered

  1. H. C., xliii, 289.