The Negro and the Nation: A History of American Slavery and Enfranchisement

By George S. Merriam | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER IX
HOW DEAL WITH THE TERRITORIES?

MEANWHILE, the American army,--accepting as its sole part to obey orders, not questioning why,--though such officers as Grant and Lee had no liking for the task set them,--and reinforced by volunteer regiments from the Southwest,--was steadily fighting its way to the Mexican capital; Taylor's force advancing from Texas, while Scott moved from Vera Cruz. The Mexicans resisted bravely, but were beaten again and again, and upon the capture of the city of Mexico they gave up the contest.

Spite of the éclat of victories, the war had been so little popular in the North that the congressional election of 1846 displaced the administration majority in the House and gave the Whigs a preponderance. But, with the excitement of the complete victory over Mexico in the next year, came a fresh wave of the aggressive temper. It was freely advocated that Mexico should be annexed bodily. Against this madness Henry Clay spoke out with his old-time power. Clearly the country would tolerate no such extreme, and the annexationists contented themselves with mulcting Mexico, upon the payment of $6,000,000, of the vast territory known as California.

Then set in with full vigor the controversy over the new territory which Calhoun had foreseen. Calhoun had been left in a sort of isolation by his defection from the administration upon the war, but he did not break with President Polk; for the reason, says Von Holst, that he wanted to save his influence to oppose the tendency to a war with

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