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Vincent Prior
AP American History
Quiz 8

    "The American pursuit of the doctrine of Manifest Destiny contributed more to the nation's dangerous slide toward civil war than any other development in the nation during the mid-19th century" In the 1840s, westward expansion proceeded at a rapid pace. Promises of wide-open spaces and inexpensive land with rich soil enticed many people in the East to pack up their possessions and head West. As the population of Americans on the West Coast increased, so too did the nation's desire to actually own the land that these Americans were settling. The phrase "Manifest Destiny" was coined to describe the philosophy shared by many that the United States had a divine right to become a transcontinental nation. To that end, the 1840s became a decade of rapid territorial acquisition and expansion, however not all of the affects of this were great.
    The annexation of Texas to the United States and the gain of new territory by the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo at the close of the Mexican War aggravated the hostility between North and South concerning the question of the extension of slavery into the territories. The antislavery forces favored the Wilmot Proviso in excluding slavery from all the lands acquired from Mexico. This was met with violent Southern opposition. When California sought admittance to the Union as a free state, a grave crisis threatened. Also causing friction was the conflict over the boundary claims of Texas, which extended far westward into territory claimed by the United States. In addition, the questions of the slave trade and the fugitive slave laws had long been vexing. There was some fear that, in the event of strong antislavery legislation, the Southern states might withdraw from the Union altogether. The possibility of the disintegration of the Union was shunned by many but was alarming to some. John C. Calhoun and other Southerners said that the South should be given guarantees of equal rights in the territories and of protection against the abolitionists. Clay proposed a series of measures as a compromise. The measures were the admission of California as a free state; the organization of New Mexico and Utah territories without mention of slavery, the status of that institution to be determined by popular sovereignty when they were ready to be admitted as states; the prohibition of the slave trade in the District of Columbia; a more stringent fugitive slave law; and the settlement of Texas boundary claims. Taylor's death and the rise of Millard Fillmore to the presidency made the compromise attainable. Congress finally passed the measures, after much debate, as separate bills in September of 1850. Many people thought of the compromise as a final solution to the question of slavery in the territories. However, the issue again emerged in 1854, and seven years later the factions were fighting the Civil War.
    The Kansas-Nebraska Act established the territories of Kansas and Nebraska. Under no circumstances did proslavery Congressmen want a free territory (Kansas) West of Missouri. Four attempts to organize a single territory for this area had already been defeated in Congress. Although the last of these attempts to organize the area had nearly been successful. The bill of 1854, contained the provision that the question of slavery should be left to the decision of the territorial settlers themselves. This was the famous principle that is now called popular sovereignty.  The bill created two new territories instead of one. The first would be slave, the second free. This aspect of the bill enraged the antislavery forces, however, it was finally adopted. The popular sovereignty idea caused proslavery and antislavery forces to determine the ""popular"" decision. The result was the tragedy of bleeding Kansas. This created so many problems that sectionalism now saw no end. The United States was propelled toward the Civil War.
    Due to the impact of Manifest Destiny the United States of America was sent down a road of no return, a road leading to slavery. The vehicle is slavery and the impact one of tremendous force, the splitting of the country in to the Confederate States of America and the United States.