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James K. Polk: A Clear and Unquestionable Destiny, Essay Example

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Words: 496

Essay

James K. Polk, after leaving the office of the Presidency, had annexed much territory to the United States, from two different countries. On the one hand, what is now Texas was annexed, as well as New Mexico and California in the Mexican American War, after considerable bloodshed. However, Polk was able to negotiate a treaty with England to add the Oregon Territory in a peaceful manner. President Polk was able to negotiate a peaceful treaty with England for the Oregon Territory, while willing to fight a War with Mexico almost simultaneously, due primarily to Britain’s’ military might, as well as pressure from war hawks, including Abraham Lincoln’s “spot resolution”–as well as the ease at which the United States could impose their will on Mexico, compared to England.

The United States as a nation was not even a century old during the Presidency of Polk, and had already fought two wars with the international powerhouse that was England. During both of these wars, England’s loss had more to do with their preoccupation with their longstanding French foes than it did with American military might. James Polk knew the very new nation could not sustain a third war with England, banking on the fact that the French would again bail them out.

Polk did know however, that the more annexed, the more the balance of powers between free and slave states much be preserved. Polk, a slave owner himself, would certainly have benefitted from adding two Southern States. Another slave owner saw this opportunity as well–a man named Abraham Lincoln. It was Lincoln’s “spot resolution”, which convinced the government that Mexico had invaded US territory, when really it was the movement of the Rio Grande River that allowed US troops to attack first, and then wait for retaliation. This perfectly parallels the way America got involved with Vietnam–the spot resolution is, in effect The Gulf of Tonkin resolution.

On the whole, Polk was more open to negotiate with the British because the young nation could not sustain another War with the country, while he was happy to fight a war against Mexico, a less developed country the US could impose imperialist doctrines on very easily–which was the ultimate goal of the time.

I decided to choose this option from your teacher’s original assignment. This is why the “two questions” are not numbered. I simply formulated the essay around the answer to the questions, which seems to be the above option from your teacher. Below I have isolated the answers to the two questions. The explanations for both are in the essay. I hope this helps.

Part One:

1. The United States opted for war with Mexico, while avoiding war with England, in comparable territory battles because it was much easier to impose foreign policy on Mexico, while the United States could not afford a third war with England in its early history. In addition, pressure from war hawks pushed Congress toward the declaration of war on Mexico, using flawed reasoning to begin with.

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