Oregon California Texas
Acquisition and Western Expansion
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World history centers around one people taking another peoples land...seldom, if ever, by peaceful means. At various times, Spain, Russia, England, and the United States claimed the Oregon Country. The only people with a real claim on the land were the American Indians.
The Oregon country extended from the Oregon-California border to the base of Russian Alaska. After the War of 1812, Great Britain offered to relinquish its claims to the Oregon Country south of the Columbia River, but the United States refused.
The crown jewel of the Northwest was Puget Sound. It was the only deep sea port north of Mexican California, and the United States wanted Puget Sound. Unable to settle the boundary dispute, an agreement of joint occupancy was signed at the Oregon Convention in 1816. Renewable at ten-year periods, this agreement lasted until 1846.
The Oregon Treaty of 1846 determined the border between the United States and Canada at the forty-ninth parallel. It was stipulated all of Vancouver Island would be part of Canada. Under the Oregon Treaty, the future states of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and part of Montana were now part of the United States.
Two years later, the Mexican and United States governments signed the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. The settlement of the Oregon Country boundary and the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo on February 2, 1848, basically completed the geographical outline of the United States. Six future western states... Washington, Idaho, Oregon, California, Nevada, Utah...and parts of five other future states... Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, New Mexico, and Arizona...were now under the American flag.
The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was signed on February 2, 1848. Despite winning the Mexican War, the American government paid the Mexican government fifteen million dollars and assumed debts of three million two hundred and fifty thousand dollars. The total cost of the Mexican Government cession to the United States was eighteen million two hundred and fifty thousand dollars...three million two hundred and fifty thousand dollars more than the United States paid for the Louisiana Territory.
The United States purchased the Louisiana Territory for eleven million two hundred and fifty thousand dollars and assumed claims against France for three million seven hundred and fifty thousand dollars for a total purchase price of fifteen million dollars.
The Guadalupe Hidalgo treaty also stipulated Mexico give up any claims to Texas. On May 14, 1836, the Treaty of Velasco between Texas and Santa Anna declared an end to the war with the Mexican army retreating south of the Rio Grande. The Mexican government never ratified the Treaty of Velasco. Skirmishes over the Texas border continued between Mexican and American outposts. Mexico claimed the Pecos River formed the boundary...Texans claimed the Rio Grande.
The Guadalupe Hidalgo treaty increased the size of the United States by about one-third (this includes relinquishing any claims to Texas)--an addition greater than the Louisiana Purchase. Few Americans even know the name of the President who brought the most land under the American Flag...President James K. Polk. Polk's campaign slogan was "Fifty-four forty or fight!". Territories acquired during his administration determined, except the base of Arizona, the outline of the United States.
Three great river systems...the Missouri, the Snake and the Colorado...drained the major fur trade area of the Rocky Mountains. The territories drained by these rivers had a direct bearing on the territorial expansion of the United States. The Missouri River and its tributaries established the upper Louisiana Territory as being below the forty-ninth parallel. Settlement of the Oregon Territory boundary in 1846, gave the United States the watershed of the lower Columbia and the Snake rivers. Besides California, a major portion of the cession from Mexico was in the valleys and tributaries of the Colorado and Green rivers.
The largest tributary of the Colorado, Columbia, and Missouri rivers head within a sixty-eight mile radius of the Grand Teton peak on the western Wyoming border. Another circle with a radius of one hundred and ninety-one miles covers all of the Rocky Mountain Rendezvous sites and the Three Forks area of Montana. With the Grand Teton as the geographical center, this area covers the richest beaver country in the Rocky Mountains.
The end of the Mountain Man Indian fur trade rendezvous in 1840 was the beginning of a new way of life for many Americans--some good, some bad. At the end of the 1840 rendezvous, the first non-missionary family traveled over the Oregon Trail to Oregon. Joel Walker, the brother of Joseph Rutherford Walker, and his family were the first settlers to travel the Oregon Trail. Manifest Destiny had started for hundreds of thousands of American pioneers traveling the Oregon, Mormon, and California trails.
America’s Manifest Destiny was the beginning of the end for several hundred thousand Native Americans and millions of buffalo.
Manifest Destiny is one of the most misunderstood phrases on the Internet. The phrase, Manifest Destiny, expresses the belief that the United States was divinely inspired to spread democracy and freedom across North America. Manifest Destiny was the "catch-phrase" used to justify the United States territorial expansion to the Pacific Ocean. The phrase Manifest Destiny was coined in 1844 by New York journalist John L. O'Sullivan in his magazine the Democratic Review.
The Oregon Country article was written by O. Ned Eddins of Afton, Wyoming. Permission is given for material from this site to be used for school research papers.
Citation: Eddins, Ned. (article name) Thefurtrapper.com. Afton, Wyoming. 2002.
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