Manifest Destiny - Manifest Destiny Mexican-American War...

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Manifest Destiny & Mexican-American War Summary & Analysis The Big Picture: Who, What, When, Where & (Especially) Why The late 1840s were a period of ardent American expansionism. The annexation of Texas, the election of James K. Polk, and the incorporation of the Oregon Territory all promoted a feeling of vibrant nationalism, a spirit of opportunity and progress that spread across the American continent. The industrial revolution was beginning in the Northeast, the standard of living was rising for most whites, and chances for self-improvement and land acquisition for ordinary white Americans seemed to be increasing every day. Americans lived longer in more wide open spaces and produced larger families than their European counterparts. They embarked upon new frontiers in the West , where vast tracts of land appeared to be ripe for the taking, crawling with abundant game for hunting and rich soil for planting. Of course, hundreds of thousands of Native Americans had inhabited regions like the Great Plains, the Southwest, and the Pacific Coast for centuries, but their nomadic lifestyle enabled settlers to continue the ongoing process of encroachment. In the eyes of the whites, the Indians' migratory social structure also made them unfit to "properly" settle the land according to the Western model of agricultural production. Racial beliefs that upheld the Anglo-Saxon as the most advanced, civilized, and righteous of all the races undergirded a popular willingness to go to war with Mexico over Texas. Yet even racist white Americans in the free states did not like the idea of watching slavery expand westward along with the national boundary line. Since 1802, Congress had maintained an unspoken but
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