The annexation of Texas in the 1840s had many advantages and disadvantages to our country. The divisions between those who supported and opposed this annexation were divided, mainly between the North and South and those representatives supporting each area of the nation. Southerners saw the acquisition of Texas as a way to expand our nation, spread slavery in the South to help empower them, and provide a place for the immigrants pressing the borders of our country. The North did not want Texas to cause the South to overpower them, they feared a war with Mexico, and believed that the growing slave population would cause the lower class of Northerners to be without work.
The 1841 death of President William Harrison led to the succession of Vice President John Tyler to the presidency. As the new President, John Tyler, instigated the process of manifest destiny. The idea of manifest destiny was to expand until all of North America was conquered for the United States. The issue of the annexation of Texas became prominent because of John Tyler’s need to find an issue to center around for the presidential debate of 1844.
He believed that this issue would be able to cross over the party lines and that the annexation would be extremely popular, especially in the South. When he launched his campaign the year before the election, annexation was seen as urgent because of the rumors of Britain guaranteeing independence in return for slavery being abolished. Calhoun, who developed a partnership with Tyler, brought an annexation treaty to Senate based on these rumors of Britain taking over the South’s sole power of slavery. When the Senate refused the treaty, Calhoun attempted to annex Texas with a joint resolution and was not successful since Congress had adjourned. The issue of annexation remained in the minds of the country.
Opposing annexation were Northerners who objected to the spread of slavery on either moral or economic grounds. The North was opposed to slavery because they did not want to compete against slave labor and did not want the new western lands committed to large plantations. Northern Whigs were in favor of internal development and not the idea of manifest destiny. There was regional opposition in the North because of the fear that the annexation of Texas would lead to war with Mexico. The Whigs also thought that the pro-slavery movement of the south into areas such as Texas was a ploy to improve only the south’s interests. The South would gain too much power if Texas were annexed. Northerners wanted the South to recognize the importance of the Union. When the Democratic Party of 1843 nominated Van Buren he denounced the annexation of Texas, but attempted to keep the issue away from his campaign. He knew the annexation would lead to further divisions between the North and South and would ultimately lead to a war with Mexico. Henry Clay backed him on this stand, which ended up causing him to lose his nomination.
Supporters of the annexation of Texas saw the immediate advantages of annexation. Many southerners, backed by John Calhoun, believed that gaining Texas would unite the South. After Clay lost his nomination, Polk ran backing the annexation of Texas. Some believed that the annexation of Texas would draw off unwanted slaves from those areas where the institution was declining, which would be both beneficial to slaveholders and a relief to free-soilers who feared the northern migration of millions of free blacks. Supporters thought that even if slavery did not succeed in Texas, the slaves of Texas would move into Mexico and restore the Anglo-Saxon purity of the United States. The south saw Texas as an area for free development of the multiplying population of the nation. It would be a place to assist in the rise of immigration and would keep Britain from trying to control the area of Texas.
The issue of slavery and abolition was directly related to the annexation of Texas and the entire idea of manifest destiny. The annexation of Texas offered new areas in which slavery might be established. The Northerners opposed the spread of slavery into their own territories and wanted to abolish its existence in the South. They feared the expansion of slavery into areas of the South such as Texas would cause the South to overpower the North with its powerful plantation system and would cause the Northerners to lose jobs to slaves. Many also felt the slavery was an issue of moral wrongdoing. The Northerners may have been more inclined to support the annexation if the entire movement was not based on the positive effects on the expansion to the south and the fact that it revolved entirely on the issue of slavery. On the other hand, the South believed that expansion would allow them to further their major economic power of slavery. They did not believe that Britain, or the North, should be able to manage their racial control. The issue of slavery was predominantly divided between the North and South just like the subject of the annexation of Texas. Slavery and the beliefs around it contributed to the divided nation of North and South.
The annexation of Texas made the division of the North and South of our country very evident. Slavery was a main issue in this annexation and further divided the two areas of our nation. The inability to unite led to inevitable war with Mexico and the divisions of the nation still unresolved.