War Message To Congress Summary

Improved Essays
In the first half of the 19th Century a young United States began to face many conflicts regarding civil rights as well as continuous opposing views between the North and South. One of the more prevalent issues at the time, even though both the Democratic and Whig parties attempted to avoid talking about it, was regarding the institution of slavery and whether or not it was “right”. Another issue that arose was whether or not the country would go to war with Mexico after Democrat, and current president at the time, James K. Polk went to Congress with a declaration of war with the claim that, on American soil, Mexico had caused the shedding of American blood. Furthermore, the war against Mexico would eventually ignite the debate of slavery even …show more content…
Polk’s “War Message to Congress”, given in May of 1846. In his message Polk justified his need for a declaration of war against Mexico based on the alleged “…wrongs perpetrated by Mexico upon our citizens throughout a long period of years…” (p. 75). Specifically though, Polk thoroughly emphasized the event of Mexican’s shedding the blood of American citizens on American soil as the main reason for going to war. Polk was playing on Americans’ pride and nationalism as there have been very few times, if any, that the United States have allowed any attack on its citizens or the country in general to go unanswered, so why let a situation as severe as this go? Lastly, as Polk insisted, it is the country’s and its citizens’ duty to “…vindicate with decision [to go to war for] the honor, the rights, and the interests of [the] country.” (p. 75). However, it’s extremely important to note Polk’s desire to acquire California. Polk had previously attempted to buy California before these conflicts had even arisen. He wanted to prevent Britain from making any claims on the land and also held knowledge of gold and silver in the area that would eventually lead to the Gold Rush. Thus, by being able to declare war against Mexico with accusations that were seen as skeptic to many, he would be able to kill two birds with one …show more content…
Georgia’s own Robert Toombs, leader of the Whig party, opposed the Democrats idea of Manifest Destiny with the declaration that the “… [United States] had territory enough. Heaven knew.” The Northern abolitionists opposed the war as they made the assumption that Polk and the Southern Democrats wanted to go to war as it would provide the South with another opportunity to have more slave states added to the union. While Democrats in the North also embraced the idea of land expansion through Manifest Destiny, fighting Mexico was not their preferred method. Northern democrats instead favored the possibility of being able to expand to the North-western part of the country rather than fight an avoidable and unnecessary war against Mexico. Activist and philosopher Henry David Thoreau was a prominent individual who dissented the possibility of war against Mexico. Thoreau spent a night in jail after refusing to pay taxes that would be going towards an unjust war and supporting a federal government that protected the institution of

Related Documents

  • Improved Essays

    President Polk was known as “Polk the Purposeful” his objective was to expand the nation (The American). The United States was not justified in going to war with Mexico for the act was hypocritical of American ideals, fought for trivial goals of a tyrant that were executed in a manner that opposed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness which were established in the Declaration of Independence. The first inalienable right introduced, is that of preserving life. It is well established that war is a poor method of preserving life. Yet, President Polk still uses the loss of life as a reason to fight.…

    • 929 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    Republican Party Formation

    • 1039 Words
    • 5 Pages

    The south also thought that this was going to influence Lincoln’s decisions over the issue, which many were right to believe for his “growing opposition led him to introduce a law that gradually ended slavery” (Smith). Even though, it gained little support the south viewed this as a preview as to what was going to come in the future if they did not surrender to the north. For putting Lincoln, in charge the blame for the start of the war laid on the Republican Party for they imposed conditions that could not be fulfilled. The south felt threatened and thought “the only way to save slavery was to secede” (Dickinson). The South cornered the Union to respond to a greater conflict on top of slavery.…

    • 1039 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Superior Essays

    The slaves felt that the American people would do nothing to stop at acquiring the new land, even if it led to war. The slaves feel an overwhelming connection to those falling victim to the American 's, seeing them as "comrades" that will suffer together. However, those who opposed the expansion to Mexico were seldom heard by the determined President, and Polk resorted to more threatening actions. After the failure of appointing John Slidell to negotiate terms with the Mexicans, tensions spiked when Mexican troops claimed the lives of twelve Americans under command of Zachary Taylor. On May 11, 1846 just two weeks after the attack, President Polk drafted a letter addressed to Congress urging them " to recognize the existence of war."…

    • 1902 Words
    • 8 Pages
    Superior Essays
  • Improved Essays

    Civil War Social Changes

    • 759 Words
    • 4 Pages

    While, “Northerners believed that slavery would escape from Dixie and corrupt and possibly break down the political and constitutional system” (xxiv). The nation was divided into two political parties, Democrats and the Republicans. The Republicans sought to end slavery, while the Democrats opposed to this idea. Slavery has torn the two political parties apart. The election of Abraham Lincoln, a member of the Republican party, had significantly pushed the start of the war, because the South took this election as a…

    • 759 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    Essay On Mexican War

    • 972 Words
    • 4 Pages

    was justified in going to war with Mexico, there were reasons they weren’t justified. President Polk believed in manifest destiny and was, in fact, looking to start a fight if that's what was needed to fulfill that dream. “Polk was a strong supporter of Manifest Destiny… President Polk had a reason for going to war” (Roden, 317). Texas, however, didn’t belong to Mexico and the war had started because Texas was annexed into the United States. Manifest Destiny may have been a selfish and childish dream but Mexico wasn’t the best qualified in taking care of the land in the first place and would have eventually lost it anyways.…

    • 972 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    Russo 1 James Russo Mrs. Fallman 27 March, 2017 Social studies P.6. Was the United states Justified in going to war with Mexico The United States had thought they were justified in going to war with Mexico after everything the U.S. has done to Mexico. The newly elected president James K. Polk was the one who led an army into the lands of Texas and California, stealing it from Mexico. President Polk believed in the Manifest Destiny of the U.S. and thought it was God’s plan for the U.S. to take Texas and California. Manifest Destiny means that it was God’s plan for the U.S. to expand into California and Texas.…

    • 749 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Superior Essays

    The South couldn 't afford to loose business from Britain and he assumed they would find an alternative source of labor. This issue was too hot and profitable for the South, so they were ready to defend the institution of slavery. Lincoln could have released the Emancipation Proclamation years earlier, but he knew this would cause outright rebellion. For this reason, he held off and continued to hope for a peaceful solution. This hopeful solution never happened and the Civil war began.…

    • 1304 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Superior Essays
  • Improved Essays

    Polk felt that because of this, if he continued to protect Texas they would become a part of America. Polk’s idea was that if he could begin a war with Mexico, he could possibly take home more of a reward than only Texas. Mexico was unable to realize the independence of Texas. This hurt them, pushing Texas away from any chance of rejoining with…

    • 1053 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Superior Essays

    On April 25, 1846, a group of U.S Soldiers were attacked by Mexican Cavalry and were killed. This provided the grounds the Polk needed to start a war. After the attack Polk went to congress asking them to declare war, saying that the “cup of forbearance has been exhausted, even before Mexico passed the boundary of the United States, invaded our territory, and shed American blood upon American soil.” This led to congress officially declaring war on Mexico on May 13. 1846, even though there was much opposition to the decision from northerners. Another cause of the Mexican American War is slavery, as many of the southern slave states…

    • 1643 Words
    • 7 Pages
    Superior Essays
  • Improved Essays

    Southerners wished to go to war because the trade embargoes set in place hurt the southern agricultural system that had been set in place. The Warhawks, a group of aggressive western and southern republican men, fed into the hysteria that Britain was conspiring with Native Americans. They spread the notion that Britain was aiding the Natives in their resistance movement to the American expansion westward (“Political Life in a New Nation” 1). However, while the anger towards Britain grew exponentially, the resentment was also directed towards the Federalist party. New England Federalists were firmly against the idea of war, overlooking England’s grievances.…

    • 1361 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Improved Essays