CHAPTER XXV. MORE TERRITORY ACQUIRED

TYLER AND THE WHIGS QUARREL. - When Congress (in May, 1841) first met in Tyler's term, Clay led the Whigs in proposing measures to carry out their party principles. But Tyler vetoed their bill establishing a new national bank. The Whigs then made some changes to suit, as they supposed, his objections, and sent him a bill to charter a Fiscal Corporation; but this also came back with a veto; whereupon his Cabinet officers (all save Daniel Webster, Secretary of State) resigned, and the Whig members of Congress, in an address to the people, read him out of the party. Later in his term Tyler vetoed two tariff bills, but finally approved a third, known as the Tariff of 1842. For these uses of the veto power the Whigs thought of impeaching him; but did not.

WEBSTER-ASHBURTON TREATY. - When Tyler's cabinet officers resigned, Webster remained in order to conclude a new treaty with Great Britain, [1] by which our present northeastern boundary was fixed from the St. Croix to the St. Lawrence. Neither power obtained all the territory it claimed under the treaty of 1783, but the disputed region was divided about equally between them. [2]

Soon after the treaty was concluded Webster resigned the secretaryship of state, and the rupture between Tyler and the Whigs was complete.

THE REPUBLIC OF TEXAS. - The great event of Tyler's time was the decision to annex the republic of Texas.

In 1821 Mexico secured her independence of Spain, and about three years afterward adopted the policy of granting a great tract of land in Texas to anybody who, under certain conditions, and within a certain time, would settle a specified number of families on the grant. To colonize in this way at once became popular in the South, and in a few years thousands of American citizens were settled in Texas.

For a while all went well; but in 1833 serious trouble began between the Mexican government and the Texans, who in 1836 declared their independence, founded the republic of Texas, [3] and sought admission into our Union as a state. Neither Jackson nor Van Buren favored annexation, so the question dragged on till 1844, when Tyler made with Texas a treaty of annexation and sent it to the Senate. That body refused assent.

THE DEMOCRATS AND TEXAS. - The issue was thus forced. The Democratic national convention of 1844 claimed that Texas had once been ours, [4] and declared for its "reannexation." To please the Northern Democrats it also declared for the "reoccupation" of Oregon up to 54° 40'. This meant that we should compel Great Britain to abandon all claim to that country, and make it all American soil.

The Democrats went into the campaign with the popular cries, "The reannexation of Texas;" "The whole of Oregon or none;" "Texas or disunion" - and elected Polk [5] after a close contest.

TEXAS ANNEXED; OREGON DIVIDED. - Tyler, regarding the triumph of the Democrats as an instruction from the people to annex Texas, urged Congress to do so at once, and in March, 1845, a resolution for the admission of Texas passed both houses, and was signed by the President. [6] The resolution provided also that out of her territory four additional states might be made if Texas should consent. The boundaries were in dispute, but in the end Texas was held to have included all the territory from the boundary of the United States to the Rio Grande and a line extending due north from its source.

After Texas was annexed, notice was served on Great Britain that joint occupation of Oregon must end in one year. The British minister then proposed a boundary treaty which was concluded in a few weeks (1846). The line agreed on was the 49th parallel from the Rocky Mountains to the Strait of Juan de Fuca (hoo-ahn' da foo'ca), and by it to the Pacific Ocean (compare maps, pp. 278 and 330).

WAR WITH MEXICO. - Mexico claimed that the real boundary of Texas was the Nueces (nwâ'sess) River. When, therefore, Polk (in 1846) sent General Zachary Taylor with an army to the Rio Grande, the Mexicans attacked him; but he beat them at Palo Alto (pah'lo ahl'to) and again near by at Resaca de la Palma (ra-sah'ca da lah pahl'ma), and drove them across the Rio Grande. When President Polk heard of the first attack, he declared that "Mexico has shed American blood upon American soil.... War exists,... and exists by the act of Mexico herself." Congress promptly voted men and money for the war.

MONTEREY. - Taylor, having crossed the Rio Grande, marched to Monterey and (September, 1846) attacked the city. It was fortified with strong stone walls in the fashion of Old World cities; the flat-roofed houses bristled with guns; and across every street was a barricade. In three days of desperate fighting our troops forced their way into the city, entered the buildings, made their way from house to house by breaking through the walls or ascending to the roofs, and reached the center of the city before the Mexicans surrendered the town.

NEW MEXICO AND CALIFORNIA. - Immediately after the declaration of war, Colonel Stephen W. Kearny with a force of men set off (June, 1846) by the old Santa Fe trail and (August 18) captured Santa Fe without a struggle, established a civil government, declared New Mexico annexed to the United States, and then started to take possession of California. But California had already been conquered by the Americans. In June, 1846, some three hundred American settlers, believing that war was imminent and fearing they would be attacked, revolted, adopted a flag on which was a grizzly bear, and declared California an independent republic. Fremont, who had been exploring in California, came to their aid (July 5), and two days later Commodore Sloat with a naval force entered Monterey and raised the flag there. In 1847 (January 8, 9) battles were fought with the Mexicans of California; but the Americans held the country.