War Message To Congress Summary

1006 Words 4 Pages
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

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