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Ch 8: Manifest Destiny & American Expansion

About This Chapter

Watch online history video lessons and learn about the Oregon Trail, the Mexican-American War, the California gold rush and more. Take quick quizzes to test your understanding of Manifest Destiny and America expansion.

Manifest Destiny & American Expansion - Chapter Summary and Learning Objectives

This chapter can introduce you to an American population eager to expand westward by the turn of the 19th century. Watch the video lessons to follow the wars, treaties and tenuous political compromises that snapped up the remaining territory in what would become the lower 48 states. You can also examine the debate over slavery in these new territories and see how it would foreshadow conflict in the years to come. This chapter can help you understand the following:

  • Motives for annexing the Oregon Territory
  • Controversies surrounding the Mexican Cession
  • Components of the Compromise of 1850
  • Late 19th-century land purchases

Video Objective
The Oregon Trail: Westward Migration to the Pacific Ocean Explains the concept of Manifest Destiny and explores motives for expansion into the Oregon Territory.
Manifest Destiny's Texas Annexation Problem Outlines the history of the Republic of Texas and the ensuing debate over statehood.
President John Tyler: American Expansion and Sectional Concerns Outlines Tyler's early political career, his presidency's opposition from the Whig party and his attempts to annex Texas.
President James K. Polk's Accomplishments in the Lower 48 States Profiles Polk's success in acquiring new territories following the conclusion of the Mexican-American War. Summarizes negotiations with Britain over the Oregon Territory.
The Mexican-American War, Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo & the Wilmot Proviso Traces the roots of the Mexican-American War and explains the eventual outcomes. Outlines terms of the Treaty of Guadalupe and explores the political controversies caused by the acquisition of new territories.
Election of 1848 and the California Gold Rush Explains the split in the Democratic Party during the 1848 election. Examines the effects of the California Gold Rush on its efforts to achieve statehood.
President Fillmore and the Compromise of 1850 Details components of the Compromise of 1850, including California statehood and the Fugitive Slave Act.
President Franklin Pierce's Politics and Economics Portrays the election of 1852, Pierce's attempts to expand into Asia and Central America, the Gadsden Purchase and the Kansas-Nebraska Act.

8 Lessons in Chapter 8: Manifest Destiny & American Expansion
The Oregon Trail: Westward Migration to the Pacific Ocean

1. The Oregon Trail: Westward Migration to the Pacific Ocean

Throughout the first half of the 19th century, the United States expanded its borders all the way to the Pacific Ocean, fulfilling its manifest destiny. Find out about the reasons people wanted this land, the path that took them there and the politicians who supported it all.

Manifest Destiny's Texas Annexation Problem

2. Manifest Destiny's Texas Annexation Problem

Find out why it took five presidents (Jackson, Van Buren, Harrison, Tyler and Polk) to get Texas annexed into the U.S. and added as a state during the era of Manifest Destiny.

President John Tyler: American Expansion and Sectional Concerns

3. President John Tyler: American Expansion and Sectional Concerns

In the presidential election of 1840, 'Tippecanoe and Tyler, Too!' prevailed. But with President Harrison's death just a month later, Vice President John Tyler took the oath of office. Was 'His Accidency' really as bad a president as some critics suggest?

President James K. Polk's Accomplishments in the Lower 48 States

4. President James K. Polk's Accomplishments in the Lower 48 States

President James Polk may be obscure, but he wasn't insignificant. Learn about his controversial territorial acquisitions that define most of what Americans today call the 'Lower 48' states.

The Mexican-American War, Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo & the Wilmot Proviso

5. The Mexican-American War, Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo & the Wilmot Proviso

The controversial Mexican-American War lasted from 1846-1848. In this lesson, discover how the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo expanded the southern part of the United States all the way to the Pacific Ocean.

Election of 1848 and the California Gold Rush

6. Election of 1848 and the California Gold Rush

General Zachary Taylor was elected president in 1848, hoping to see the peaceful addition of land from the Mexican cession. 'Old Rough and Ready' wasn't prepared for the California gold rush.

President Fillmore and the Compromise of 1850

7. President Fillmore and the Compromise of 1850

Following President Zachary Taylor's death, Millard Fillmore took office. He supported the Compromise of 1850 that added new states from the Mexican cession and attempted to resolve long-standing controversies over slavery.

President Franklin Pierce's Politics and Economics

8. President Franklin Pierce's Politics and Economics

In the wake of the Compromise of 1850, President Franklin Pierce pursued an aggressive agenda of expansion. In this lesson, find out why it inflamed sectional tensions, and why he wasn't re-nominated for a second term.

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