The USA 1820-1860
If you want to see what it meant, this flash animated map is worth a look. Requires flash (obviously!)
The Monroe Doctrine,a key of US foreign policy for much of the 19th & 20th century, was expressed during President Monroe's seventh annual message to Congress, December 2, 1823.
The South Carolina Exposition and Protest, also known as Calhoun's Exposition, was written in 1828 by John C. Calhoun, during the Nullification Crisis. At the time, Calhoun was Vice President of the United States under John Quincy Adams and candidate for Vice President under Andrew Jackson. The document was a protest against the Tariff of 1828, also known as the Tariff of Abominations. It stated that if the tariff was not repealed, South Carolina would secede. It also stated Calhoun's Doctrine of nullification. I.e., The idea that a state has the right to reject federal law. On December 19, 1828, it was presented to the South Carolina State House of Representatives. It was not formally adopted by the legislature, nor did it affect the tariff, but a pamphlet of it was published and circulated. Since Calhoun was then both Vice President and a Vice-Presidential candidate, he chose to conceal his authorship. However, South Carolina did adopt the nullification doctrine, nullifying the tarrifs and voting to build its own army.
South Carolina set out its basis for nullifying a federal law here. The crisis this prompted was settled in the short term via compromises over tariffs. In the longer term, the issue over federal and state authority was not resolved until the civil war. How does the Ordinance frame the issue? How did Jackson respond? How influential was John Calhoun in the whole business?
The nullification crisis of the early 1830s provided a critical test of the relationship between the states and the Federal Government. Here, the President sets out the position of the Federal Government regarding the union and states rights.
Alexis de Tocqueville was a French political theorist and historian. In the 1830s he visited the United States with a friend on the pretext of studying the prison system (but also due to political differences with the French state). They spent nine months traveling throughout the U.S. in search of America's essence. They ventured as far west as Michigan where guides led them through the unspoiled wilderness. They headed south to New Orleans, risking their lives to travel during the worst winter in years. But the majority of their time was spent in Boston, New York and Philadelphia. The result was this 2 volume study of America & Americans - a fascinating outsider's analysis of the nation during the Age of Jackson. This is the whole text, beginners might want to look for selected extracts on democracy, slavery, religion etc.
An extract from the article where O'Sullivan, a Jacksonian Democrat, lays out the idea of Manifest Destiny without using the term directly.
PBS website with maps, an interactive timeline and some useful sources. A good starting point.
More flash animated maps exploring the war and the ensuing annexation of territory from the University of Oregon site.
The peace treaty signed in Guadalupe Hidalgo between the U.S. and Mexico that ended the Mexican–American War (1846–48).It gave the United States the Rio Grande boundary for Texas, and gave the U.S. ownership of California, and a large area comprising New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, and parts of Wyoming and Colorado.
Thoreau's essay set out how to respond to a government that acts in an unjust way. Thoreau proposed withholding his taxes to any government that condoned the existence of slavery. The essay recounts his jail term for doing so. As an essay regarding the moral duty of the individual, this essay influenced both Gandhi & Martin Luther King. Can you see the connections? Does the argument work?
Flash-animated map detailing the impact of the Compromise of 1850.
The full text of the Act that proved one of the most corrosive elements of the Compromise of 1850.
If Calhoun opposed the Compromise of 1850 from a Southern perspective, Seward did so from anti-slavery position within the Whig Party. Both speeches demonstrate the growing polarisation of US politics during the decades preceding the Civil War.
Too weak to deliver the speech himself, John Calhoun, long an advocate of states' rights, wrote this attack on the Compromise of 1850,explaining how it might unravel the delicate compromise between the two 'sections'.
The full text of another key piece of legislation in the decade where sectionalism became the deciding factor in US politics.
Interactive Map which traces the incoproration of states into the union, noting which were free, slave or open to slavery via popular sovereignty. Helps explain why the issue of Kansas & Nebraska mattered so much.
Lincoln delivered his "House Divided" speech upon accepting the Republican nomination for Senate in Springfield, Illinois. In this speech he famously states "a house divided against itself cannot stand" in describing the coming national conflict over slavery.
Delivered after the election but prior to Lincoln's inauguration, this speech by outgoing President James Buchanan gives another insight into the crisis.
The presidential election that revealed the deep sectional divisions in American politics. This site gives you the results, and a map to help you understand exactly who won what & where.