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Territorial Expansion and Sectional Crisis

A.  Manifest Destiny and mission

B.  Texas annexation, the Oregon boundary, and California

C.  James K. Polk and the Mexican War. slavery and the Wilmot Proviso

D.  Later expansionist efforts


The Crisis of Victorianism
Resource Type: E-Seminar

Relevant interactive tools:
Turner argued that Americans' New World experience had aided democracy.
Turner argued that Americans' New World experience had aided democracy.

Abolitionism and Antislavery
Resource Type: E-Seminar

Relevant pages:
The Expansion Issue: Slavery in New Territories?

Relevant transcripts:
Professor Foner discusses the Wilmot Proviso.

Relevant interactive tools:
Geography of Slavery
Geography of Slavery

Michigan Anti-communist Law
Resource Type: Primary Source
The state of Michigan passed this legislation in 1952.

The Civil War and the Expansion of Slavery
Resource Type: Document-Based Question
This DBQ focuses on the decade of crisis, the 1850s, during which the question of the expansion of slavery tore the country apart. The documents selected include the classic evidence that can be used to prove that the expansion of slavery was the most important cause of the Civil War, 1861–65.

Calhoun on the Compromise of 1850
Resource Type: Primary Source
John C. Calhoun became the South's most powerful advocate as senator from South Carolina for most of the period from 1832 to 1850.

Republican Party Platform of 1856
Resource Type: Primary Source
While the Democrats endorsed popular sovereignty to decide the issue of slavery in the Territories, the Republicans took the stand put forth here.

Bleeding Kansas
Resource Type: Primary Source
In the summer of 1856, advocates of Free States flocked to Kansas in anticipation of the popular sovereignty vote.

A House Divided
Resource Type: Primary Source
Abraham Lincoln accepts the Republican Party's nomination for U.S. senator from Illinois. Lincoln ran against Stephen A. Douglas, the proponent of popular sovereignty.

National Democratic Party Platform of 1860
Resource Type: Primary Source
In 1860, the Democratic Party split along sectional lines, leaving the Southern Democrats as the dominant party of the South. In the 1860 presidential election, the Southern Democrats won every state of the Deep South, the first states to secede.

Crittenden's Proposed Amendment
Resource Type: Primary Source
Abraham Lincoln has been elected President and the threat of secession hangs over the Union. What is Crittenden's plan?

Response to the Crittenden Amendment
Resource Type: Primary Source
This editorial responds to Crittenden's proposal to amend the Constitution.

Mississippi's Declaration of Secession
Resource Type: Primary Source
The first state to secede was South Carolina, doing so on December 20, 1860. Before the end of February, all the states of the Deep South (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas) had seceded.

Expansion of Slavery into the Territories
Resource Type: Point-Counterpoint
Eric Foner argues that the debate over whether the territories (particularly land acquired from the Louisiana Purchase (1803) and through the Mexican-American War (1846–48)) would be carved into slave or free states was the key political issue of the 1850s and the major source of conflict between northern and southern states. A teacher compares the interpretation of William Gienapp with Foner's view.

Compromise Between the North and South
Resource Type: Classroom Simulation
In this dramatic simulation students will explore the possibility of an eleventh-hour compromise between the North and the South on the eve of the Civil War (1861–65). Students will understand how mounting tensions in the 1850s eventually led to the outbreak of war.

Who's Who
Resource Type: Primary Source
John C. Frémont (1813–90).

The Expansion Issue: Political Polarization
Resource Type: Primary Source
By 1856 the debate over slavery had divided the nation politically. This Republican campaign chart, with Fremont pictured at the top, illustrates the division between free and slave states and compares the two regions in several categories, including industry and education.

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