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Territorial Expansion 1800-1850

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From the years 1800-1850 the nation was full of battles and prosperity. Territorial expansion was a cause in most of the battles, but also gained prosperity for the nation. There were many impacts on national unity between those time periods, but the main impact was territorial expansion. This is true because of the Louisiana Purchase, the purchase of Oregon territory, and the Mexican War.

The Louisiana Purchase was the most important event of President Thomas Jefferson's first Administration. In this transaction, the United States bought 827,987 square miles of land from France for about $15 million. This vast area lay between the Mississippi River and the Rocky Mountains, stretching from the Gulf of Mexico to the Canadian Border. The purchase of this land greatly increased the economic resources of the United States, and cemented the union of the Middle West and the East. Eventually all or parts of 15 states were formed out of the region. When Jefferson became president in March 1801, the Mississippi River formed the western boundary of the United States. The Florida's lay the south, and the Louisiana Territory to the west. Spain owned both these territories.

Farmers who lived west of the Appalachian Mountains shipped all their surplus produce by boat down rivers that flowed into the Gulf of Mexico. In a treaty of 1795, Spain agreed to give Americans the "right of deposit" at New Orleans. This right allowed Americans to store in New Orleans, duty-free, goods shipped for export. Arks and flatboats transported a great variety of products, including flour, tobacco, pork bacon, lard, feathers, cider, butter, cheese, hemp, potatoes, apples, salt, whiskey, beeswax, and bear and deerskins. Spain suspended the right of deposit in 1798, arousing a strong reaction among Westerners. The Louisiana Purchase was the first notable acquisition to national unity, for it allowed contact between states to expand and helped to unite some the of the southern states.

A long history of dispute characterized the ownership of the Oregon territory, which included present-day Oregon, Washington, Idaho and portions of Montana, Wyoming, and British Columbia. Spain and Russia had surrendered their claims to the region, but the United States and Britain were active claimants in the early 19th century's early years. The matter's resolution was delayed by the Anglo-American Convention of 1818, in which both parties agreed to a temporary policy of "joint occupation" of the region. This accommodation was extended in 1827. During the 1830s, the American position came to favor establishment of the northern border arguing that the nation required no less. The British, however, wanted to see the southern boundary of British Columbia established at the Columbia River and based their claims on the Hudson's Bay Company's long history in the area. The British position weakened in the early 1840s as large numbers of American settles poured into the disputed area over the Oregon Trail. Possession of Oregon became an issue in the election of 1844. Democratic candidate James K. Polk took an extreme view by advocating the placement of the border at 54 degrees 40' north latitude. Expansionists chanted, "Fifty-four of Fight!" After the election, Polk put the British notice that joint occupation would not be extended, but quietly entered into diplomatic discussions.

In June 1846, the Treaty of Washington was signed between Britain and the United States, the latter represented by Secretary of State James Buchanan. Provisions included: the boundary between Canada and the United States was set from the Rocky Mountains to the coast; the line was extended southward through the Gulf Islands and the followed the mid point through the Strait of Juan de Fuca to the Pacific ocean, and navigation through the Gulf Islands and the Strait of Juan de Fuca was to be ensured for both nations. The United States achieved a favorable resolution on the main boundary issue and the British retained full control of Vancouver Island, a matter of prime importance to them. The purchase of the Oregon Territory allowed migration to the west in increasing numbers year to year. Also, it unified many different people migrating and several states in the Oregon Territory. This helped



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