Every presidential election is consequential, but the Election of 1860 would play a significant role in whether the United States would remain one nation. The division of the North and South on the issue of slavery threatened to cause a secession of the South. The result of the election would determine whether that threat would materialize and cause a Second American Revolution. Read more
The Democratic Party and Whig Party were the dominant political parties from the early 1830s up until the mid-1850s. Both were institutions in national politics despite not having a coherent national organization by cobbling together a diverse group of states to win elections. While the Democrats had a more populist agenda, the Whigs were more focused on pursuing industrialization and development of the country. See David Potter, The Impending Crisis: America Before the Civil War, 1848-1861, 226. While the Democratic Party would survive to the present day, the Whig Party would not survive the mid-1850s, not as a result of its own ineptness but because of the changing political landscape of that era. Read more
In the 15 years leading up to the Civil War, a wide variety of theories emerged for how the federal government should deal with slavery expanding, or not expanding, into the territories acquired by the United States.
Through the early 1800s and well into the 1840s, Americans had developed a sense of unity and pride about their country.
One of the most outspoken Representatives in the House of Representatives, John Quincy Adams, had opposed the declaration of war on Mexico and fought President James Polk’s policies for the duration of his presidency.
The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was the culmination of the Mexican-American War and “embodied the objectives for which [President James] Polk had gone to war.” Daniel Walker Howe, What Hath God Wrought: Transformation of America, 1815-1848, 808.
President James Polk, at the outbreak of the Mexican-American War, was concerned about the ramifications of a significant, drawn-out conflict. He was aware that a Whig military hero could emerge, just as William Henry Harrison had. See Daniel Walker Howe, What Hath God Wrought: Transformation of America, 1815-1848, 750.
Leading up to President James Polk’s May 13, 1846 announcement of the Mexican-American War, tension arose between President Polk and the Secretary of State, James Buchanan.
While many Americans would come to embrace manifest destiny, the idea that America would achieve its imperial destiny and dominate the continent, it was not a politician or president who coined the term. Rather, it was coined in 1845 in New York’s Democratic Review magazine. See Daniel Walker Howe, What Hath God Wrought: Transformation of America, 1815-1848, 702-03.
Throughout the first twelve days of November of 1844, the population voted for the next president. Voters had to pick between the Democrat, James Polk, the Whig, Henry Clay, and the Liberty Party’s candidate, James Birney. See Daniel Walker Howe, What Hath God Wrought: Transformation of America, 1815-1848, 688.