Explain why it is sometimes argued that the annexation of Texas and the Mexican War were major causes of the Civil War.





          But, sir the issue now presented is not whether slavery shall exist unmolested where it now is, but whether it shall be carried to new and distant regions, now free, where the footprint of a slave cannot be found. This, sir, is the issue....We are fighting this war for Texas and for the South. I affirm it - every intelligent man knows it - Texas is the primary cause of this war.... 
          Now, sir, we are told that California is ours, that New Mexico is ours - won by the valor of our arms. They are free. Shall they remain free? Shall these fair provinces be the inheritance and homes of the whole labor of freemen or the black labor of slaves? This, sir, is the issue- this the question. The North has the right, and her representatives here have the power.

Source:   Speech by David Wilmot: Appeals for free soil, 1847. 



          All the territory of the Union is the common property of all the states - every member, new or old, of the Union, admitted to partnership under the constitution, has a perfect right to enjoy the territory, which is the common property of all. Some of the territory was acquired by treaty from England - much of it by cession from the older states; yet more by treaties with Indians, and still greater quantities by purchase from Spain and France; - large tracts again by the annexation of Texas - and the present was will add still more to the quantity yet to be entered by citizens of the United States, or of those of any of the countries of Europe that choose to migrate thither. Al this land, no matter whence it was derived, belongs to all states jointly....[N]o citizen of the United States can be debarred from moving thither with his property and enjoying the liberties guaranteed by the constitution....

Source:   The United States Magazine and Democratic Review, October, 1847. 



          It can no longer be doubted that this is a war of conquest....A war of conquest is bad; but the present war has darker shadows. It is a war for the extension of slavery over a territory which has already been purged, by Mexican authority, from this stain curse. Fresh markers of human beings are to be established; further opportunities for this hateful traffic are to be opened; the lash of the overseer is to be quickened in new regions; and the wretched slave is to be hurried to unaccustomed fields of toil. It can hardly be believed that now, more than eighteen hundred years since the dawn of the Christian era, a government, professing the law of charity and justice, should be employed in war to extend an institution which exists in defiance of these sacred principles. 
          It has already been shown that the annexation of Texas was consummated for this purpose. The Mexican war is a continuance, a prolongation, of the same efforts; and the success which crowned the first emboldens the partisans of the latter, who now, as before, profess to extend the area of freedom, while they are establishing a new sphere for slavery....But it is not merely proposed to open new markets for slavery: it is also designed to confirm and fortify the "Slave Power."....Regarding it as a war to strengthen the "Slave Power," we are conducted to a natural conclusion, that it is virtually, and in it consequences a war against the free States of the Union. 

Source:  Charles Sumner, written for the Massachusetts legislature in April, 1847.  



           I proceed now to a consideration of what is to me the strongest argument against annexing Texas to the United States. This measure will extend and perpetuate slavery.... 
           As far back as the year 1829, the annexation of Texas was agitated in the Southern and Western States; and it was urged on the ground of the strength and extension it would give to the slaveholding interest....The great argument for annexing Texas is, that I will strengthen "the peculiar institution" of the South, and open a new a vast field for slavery.... 
           By this act, slavery will be perpetuated in the Old States as well as spread over new. It is well known, that the soil of some of the old states has become exhausted by slave cultivation....It is by slave breeding and slave selling that these states subsist....By annexing Texas, we shall not only create [slavery] where it does not exist, but breathe new life into it, where its end seemed to be near. States, which might and ought to throw it off, will make the multiplication of slaves their great aim and chief resource.

Source:    Reverend William Ellery Channing, A Letter to Hon. Henry Clay, 1837. 



          I do not, then, hesitate to avow before this House and the country, and in the presence of the living God, that if by your legislation you [northerners] seek to drive us from the territories of California and New Mexico, purchases by the common blood and treasure of the whole peoples, and to abolish slavery in this District [Washington, D.C.] thereby attempting to fix national degradation upon half the states of this Confederacy, I am for disunion. And if my physical courage be equal to maintenance of my convictions or right and duty, I will devote all I am and all I have on earth to its consummation.

Source:  Congressman Robert Toombs of Georgia's response on the floor of the House to Northern efforts to keep slavery out of the territories; December 13, 1849. 



Article V 
 The boundary line between the two Republics shall commence in the Gulf of Mexico, three leagues from land, opposite the mouth of the Rio Grande, otherwise called Rio Bravo del Norte, or opposite the mouth of its deepest branch, if it should have more than one branch emptying directly into the sea; from thence up the middle of that river, following the deepest channel, where it has more than one, to the point where it strikes the southern boundary of New Mexico; thence, westwardly, along the whole. Southern boundary of Mew Mexico (which runs north of the town called Paso) to its western termination; thence, northward, along the western line of Mew Mexico, until it intersects the first branch of the river Gila; (or if it should not intersect any branch of that river, the to the point on the said line nearest to such branch, and thence in a direct line to the same;) thence down the middle of the said branch and of the said river, until it empties into the Rio Colorado; thence across the Rio Colorado, following the division come between Upper and lower California, to the Pacific Ocean...

Source:   The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, 1848. 






          Whereas, in the settlement of the difficulties pending between this country and Mexico, territory may be acquired, in which slavery does not exist. And, whereas, Congress, in the organization of a territorial government, at an early period of our political history, established a principle worthy of imitation in all future time, forbidding the existence of slavery in free territory; therefore, Resolved, that in any territory, which may be acquired from Mexico, over which shall be established territorial government, slavery, or involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crimes, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, should be for ever prohibited; and that in any act or resolution, establishing such government, a fundamental provision should be inserted to that effect. This resolution, which was a palpable violation of the Missouri compromise, the territory to be acquired lying on both sides the compromise line, was sustained, on a motion to lay it on the table, by the whole Northern vote, except 21 Democrats.... 
          Provided, That there shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, in the territories hereby ceded, otherwise than in punishment of crimes, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted for attaching this article to the treaty, there were 15 northern votes an article which palpably violated the Missouri compromise line, if that was a final compromise line; if not, it palpably violated the Constitution.

Source:    The United States Magazine and Democratic Review, January, 1856.  



….Texas has been absorbed into the Union in the inevitable fulfillment of the general law which is rolling our population westward; the connexion of which with that ratio of growth in population which is destined within a hundred years to swell our numbers to the enormous population of two hundred and fifty millions (if not more), is too evident to leave u sin doubt of the manifest design of Providence in regard to the occupation of this continent. It was disintegrated from Mexico in the natural course of events, by a process perfectly legitimate on its own part, blameless on ours; and in which all the censures due to wrong, perfidy and folly, rest on Mexico alone. And possessed as it was by a population which was still bound by myriad ties of the very heartstrings to its old relations, domestic and political, their incorporation into the Union was not only inevitable, but the most natural, right and proper thing in the world – and it is only astonishing that there should be any among ourselves to say it nay.

Source:  John L. O’Sullivan; The United States Magazine and Democratic Review, 1845.



….Now, I hold that Illinois has a right to abolish and prohibit slavery as she did, and I hold that Kentucky has the same right to continue ad protect slavery that Illinois has to abolish it. I hold that New York has as much right to abolish slavery as Virginia has to continue it, and that each and every state of this Union is a sovereign power, with the right to do as it pleases upon this question of slavery, and upon all its domestic institutions…. 
           Now, my friends, if we will only act conscientiously and rigidly upon this great principle of popular sovereignty, which guarantees to each state and Territory the right to do as it pleases on all things, local and domestic, instead of Congress interfering, we will at peace one with another. Why should Illinois at war with Missouri, or Kentucky with Ohio, or Virginia with New York, merely because their institutions differ? Our fathers intended our institutions should differ. They knew that the North and the South, having different climates, productions, ad interests, required different institutions.

Source:  First Lincoln-Douglas Debate; Ottawa, August 21, 1858.  



Doc. A – Gretz, Katherine R. ed. Retrieving the American Past: 1810-1860. Boston: Pearson Custom Publishing, 2002. 94-95 (Map: Territory added to U.S.) 

Doc. B – Wilmot, David. "David Wilmot Appeals for Free Soil (1847)." The American Spirit: The Ninth Edition. Eds. Thomas A. Bailey and David M. Kennedy. Boston, NY: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1998. 396-397. 

Doc. C – Gretz, Katherine R. ed. Retrieving the American Past: 1810-1860. Boston: Pearson Custom Publishing, 2002. 90-91. (The Expansion of Slavery Justified). 

Doc. D – Sumner, Charles. "The Expansion of Slavery Condemned: April 1847." Retrieving the American Past: 1810-1860. Ed. Katherine R. Gretz. Boston: Pearson Custom Publishing, 2000. 92-93.  

Doc. E – Channing, Reverend William Ellery. "A Letter to Hon. Henry Clay, 1837." United States History. John J. Newman and John M. Schmalbach. New York: Amsco school Publications, Inc., 2002. 236. 

Doc. F – Toombs, Congressman Robert. "Response on the floor of the House to northern efforts to keep slavery out of the territories: December 13, 1849" United States History. John J. Newman and John M. Schmalbach. New York: Amsco School Publications, Inc., 2002. 260. 

Doc. G – Mitchell, Roth. Reading the American West. Addison-Wesley Educational Publishers Inc., 1999. 122-123. (The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo) 

Doc. H – Dollar, Charles M., and Gary W. Reichard, eds. American Issues:  A Documentary Reader. Glencoe/McGraw-Hill, 1994. Random House, Inc., 1988. 165-166. (Map: Annexation of Texas).  

Doc. I – "The Union – The Dangers Which Beset it. Number One." The United States Democratic Review/Volume 37, Issue 1, January 1856. 

Doc. J – O’Sullivan, John L. "John L. O’Sullivan Advocates Manifest Destiny." Retrieving the American Past: 1810-1860. Ed. Katherine R. Gretz. Boston: Pearson Custom Publishing, 2002. 91. 

Doc. K – Douglas, Stephen. "First Debate: Ottawa, August 21, 1858." 



Blaine, James. "The Missouri Compromise (1820)."

Crittenden, Senator John. "The Crittenden Compromise: December 18, 1860." 

Douglas, Stephen. "Speech at Atlon, Illinois, October 15, 1858."
United States History. John J. Newman and John M. Schmalbach. New York: Amsco School Publications, Inc., 2002. 262-263. 

Lincoln, Presiden Abraham. "The Lower South Secedes." The Emergence Of
Lincoln: Prologue to Civil War. Allan Nevins. Charles Scribners’s Sons, 1950. 330-331. 
Nevins, Allan. Ordeal of the
Union. Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1947. 386-387. ( Fugitive Slave Law) 

Polk, President James K. "This is the House that Polk built." Mr. Polk’s War. John H. Schroeder. The University of Wisconsin Presss, 1959. 42-43. 

Polk, President James K. "Triumph of the Letheon." Mr. Polk’s war. John H. Schroeder. The University of Wisconsin Press, 1959. 42. 

Stringfellow, Thornton. "The Bible Argument (1860)." The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, 2002.

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