The Kansas-Nebraska Act

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Construction of the Transcontinental Railroad.

In 1844, Asa Whitney, a merchant in New York, proposed that a transcontinental railroad be built. While he hoped to lead the construction of the railroad and reap the benefits of the ambitious project, that was not to be. However, three components of his plan captured the spirit of Americans toward the construction of the railroad: “There must be a railroad to the Pacific; it must be financed by grants of public lands along the route; and it must be built by private interests which received these grants.” David Potter, The Impending Crisis: America Before the Civil War, 1848-1861, 146. Read more

Manifest Destiny

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The Democratic Review Magazine.

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.

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Election of 1844: Polk Prevails

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Campaign Banner for James Polk and George Dallas.

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.

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The Panic of 1837

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A Political Cartoon About the Panic of 1837.

In Martin Van Buren’s inaugural address, in March of 1837, he boasted of the prosperity and expansion of commerce that had occurred under his predecessor, Andrew Jackson. Just months later, the Panic of 1837 would begin. Daniel Walker Howe, What Hath God Wrought: Transformation of America, 1815-1848, 502.

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