AP US - Pd 5
Wednesday, 30 March, 2011
The Impending Crisis
Brinkley Chapter 13
Between 1845 and 1860, critical events and issues seemed to come in a rush, giving Americans
little time to analyze what was happening and to reflect on long-range solutions.
seemed to replace reason as the debate grew increasingly repetitious and loud.
The question, or
so it seemed, was the expansion of slavery into the territories gained during the Polk
But something far more fundamental was at stake – the future of the nation.
Northerners had become convinced that the expansion of slavery threatened the democratic
foundations of the United States and that expansion would give the South control of the
government, which would lead to economic stagnation, unemployment, and financial ruin – all
the effect of the depression of 1837, but magnified.
From their point of view, the South, and its
peculiar institution, threatened the nation’s growth and progress and had to be overcome.
South, however, convinced of the legality of its position and the validity of its institutions, fought
back, and with remarkable success.
By combining its power in the Democratic party (which
gave it extraordinary influence in Congress and with the president) with its supporters on the
Supreme Court, the slave states seemed secure.
But still, they were fearful.
Convinced that they
had given up all they could in earlier compromises, they feared future gains by those they
considered to be enemies, and those they feared most were the Republicans.
Points for Discussion:
Define “Manifest Destiny” as Americans applied the term, and cite examples to indicate the
actual operation of this complex motivating force in American expansion to the Pacific
Trace the history of Texas from its early settlement as part of Mexico through its
establishment as an independent republic to its annexation to the United States in 1845:
indicate the political problems that the status of Texas raised in the United States in the
1830s and 1840s.
Describe the Anglo-American dispute over the Oregon Territory from the 1830s to 1846, cite
the basis for the claims of both countries to the area, and identify the terms of the 1846
agreement with Great Britain settling Oregon’s status.
Discuss the causes of the Mexican War; in particular, describe the role that expansionist
sentiment played in precipitating the war.
Cite the provisions of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, evaluate the extent to which the
treaty’s terms satisfied expansionist goals, and explain the problem that the treaty raised for
Describe the arguments of those favoring and opposing the extension of slavery into the
territories, and indicate the role of popular sovereignty as a compromise.