The Mass Immigration of the 1840s

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Photograph of the Five Points Neighborhood of New York City. Photographer Unknown.

In the mid-1840s, the last major famine in European history would take place in Ireland. This famine would have significant ramifications for America, as it would lead to a massive wave of immigrants.

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The Death of John Quincy Adams

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Daguerrotype of John Quincy Adams.

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.

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America in 1848

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John Calhoun.

In 1848, when word spread to America that a revolution was breaking out in France, President James Polk wrote: “The great principles of popular sovereignty which were proclaimed in 1776 by the immortal author of our Declaration of Independence, seem now to be in the course of rapid development throughout the world.” James Knox Polk to Richard Rush, April 18, 1848, quoted in Michael Morrison, “American Reactions to European Revolutions, 1848-1852,” Civil War History 49 (June 2003): 117.

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The Persecution of Winfield Scott

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Engraving of Winfield Scott.

Throughout the course of the Mexican-American War, General Winfield Scott was increasingly becoming a hero to Americans. While many Americans looked at Scott’s actions and could only admire him, one man took action to ensure Scott would not have a pristine reputation. That man was President James Polk.

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The Whigs’ Dissent

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Representative Alexander Stephens.

Some Americans may suppose that during wartime, partisanship declines and a sense of unity prevails. During the Mexican-American War, this was not the case. The Whigs were vocal in their disagreement with President James Polk and the Democrats.

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The Deadliest War in American History

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Winfield Scott. By: Robert Walter Weir.

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.

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