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pute. Maine settlers had pushed into the valley of the Aroostook, the ownership of which was in dispute, and in 1838 and 1839 a border warfare was imminent. The legislature of Maine made an appropriation for defense and Congress authorized the president to resist any attempt of Great Britain to enforce exclusive jurisdiction over the disputed
territory. General Scott was sent to the scene of action and put a stop to the so-called “Aroostook War” by arranging a truce and joint occupation until the matter could be adjusted diplomatically.
When Webster became secretary of state he took the matter up and finally on August 9, 1842, signed with Lord Ashburton a treaty, which adjusted satisfactorily not only the Maine boundary, but
the boundary from Lake DANIEL WEBSTER.
Superior to the Lake of the Woods and as far west as the Rocky Mountains. The treaty also contained a clause binding the two parties to maintain on the African coast large enough squadrons to suppress effectually the slave trade.
A few months after the signature of the treaty with England Webster resigned from the cabinet and was succeeded The Texas by A. P. Upshur of Virginia. Having been repuquestion diated by the Whigs, Tyler was now trying to build up a Democratic party of his own, but most of the old Jackson men held aloof. The annexation of Texas had now
become a leading political issue and on this question he hoped to unite the South behind him. But for the opposition of the antislavery people Texas would have been annexed in 1837. But Jackson, as we have seen, thought it prudent to postpone the question and avoid making it a political issue.
Tyler's attention was drawn to Texas by the intrigues of Great Britain and France with the officials of that republic and with Mexico, intrigues which recent investigations show were more hostile to the United States than even Tyler supposed. Upshur was secretly negotiating a treaty of annexation when he and the secretary of the navy were blown up by an accidental explosion on the gunboat Princeton. in February, 1844. Calhoun was now invited to accept the position of secretary of state and the treaty was concluded April 12, but it was rejected by the Senate. The question of annexation became the leading issue in the presidential campaign which was just opening.
The annexation of Texas was inevitable. So far from being forced on the country as the result of a slaveholders' conspiracy, it was a perfectly natural step in American expansion and but for the growing antislavery Antislavery sentiment it would have encountered little oppo- threaten sition outside of New England. As soon as it secession,
1843 became known in 1843 that Tyler was contemplating annexation, John Quincy Adams, who had tried to purchase Texas when president, presented the following resolution to the committee on Foreign Relations: “That any attempt of the government of the United States, by an act of Congress or by treaty, to annex to this Union the republic
Texas, or the people thereof, would be a violation of the Constitution of the United States, null and void, and to which the free States of this Union and their people ought not to submit.” The committee refused to report the resolution to the House, but Adams, Giddings, and other antislavery leaders issued an address to the people of the free States, de
claring "that annexation, effected by any act or proceeding of the Federal government, or any of its departments, would be identical with dissolution," that "it would be a violation of our national compact” to which they were confident the people of the free States would not submit, and that it would not only result in a dissolution of the Union, but fully justify it.
The Webster-Ashburton treaty had agreed upon the 49th parallel as the boundary between the United States and The Oregon Canada from the Lake of the Woods to the Rocky question
Mountains. West of the mountains the Oregon country was still in dispute. The claims of the United States were based on Captain Gray's discovery of the Columbia River in 1791, the expedition of Lewis and Clark, and the Florida treaty, in which Spain had accepted the 42d parallel as the northern boundary of her possessions. The British claims were based on the voyage of Captain Cook in 1778 and on the trading stations established in the region by the Hudson Bay Company. Russia had also laid claim to the region, but England and the United States had united in opposing her, and by treaties of 1824 and 1825 she had abandoned all claim to the coast south of 54° 40'. In 1818 England and the United States had agreed to the joint occupation of the territory without prejudice to the claims of either party and this arrangement had been continued indefinitely in 1827, subject to termination on twelve months' notice by either party.
By 1844 a large number of Americans had gone to Oregon, especially from Missouri, and they urged the government to look out for their interests. The United States had been willing to adopt the 49th parallel as the boundary, but England had rejected this proposition, as she wanted her possessions to extend as far south as the Columbia River. Americans now began to claim the whole of Oregon, and the question was united with that of Texas annexation. “Fifty
four Forty or Fight” became one of the slogans of the campaign of 1844.
When the Democratic convention met in Baltimore, May 27, 1844, it was found that a majority of the delegates were committed to Van Buren, who still retained his The no hold on the party organization and still had the tion of Polk, backing of Andrew Jackson. The two-thirds rule 1844 had in previous conventions been applied in the selection of the vice-president, but there had never been any balloting in nominating a candidate for the presidency and Van Buren's friends held that there was no reason why it should be applied. After a discussion lasting the greater part of two days the two-thirds rule was finally reaffirmed. This action defeated Van Buren, for he had written a letter shortly before the meeting of the convention in which he had opposed the annexation of Texas on the ground that it could not be accomplished without a war with Mexico, and he could not command enough Southern delegates to give him the necessary two-thirds vote.
An effort was then made to nominate Lewis Cass of Michigan, while R. M. Johnson and James Buchanan each had a strong following also. The name of James K. Polk of Tennessee was presented to the convention on the eighth ballot and on the ninth he was nominated. He had served for a time as speaker of the House and had also been governor of Tennessee, but he had never been seriously considered for the presidency and his nomination was a surprise to the country. He was the first “dark horse.” George M. Dallas of Pennsylvania was nominated for the vice-presidency. The platform urged the “re-occupation of Oregon and the re-annexation of Texas at the earliest practicable period.”
The Whig convention had been held in Baltimore four weeks before the Democratic convention, and Henry Clay had been nominated by acclamation. He had expected to be opposed by Van Buren and he had taken slibstantially the
same attitude on the Texas question. Polk's open advocacy of annexation threatened to draw off Clay's Southern follow
ing, so that as the campaign advanced Clay wrote The candidacy of letters to his Southern friends in which he tried to Clay and the hedge on the question of annexation. While this qutcome of the
shifting of position enabled him to carry North campaign
Carolina and Tennessee it caused him to lose New York, where the Abolitionist candidate drew enough of his strength to give the State to Polk.
Polk, also, had to do some hedging on the tariff question in order to hold Pennsylvania, but expansion was the paramount issue and on this issue Polk was elected, receiving 170 electoral votes to Clay's 105. The Abolitionist party, which had received about 7000 votes in 1840, again nominated Birney on a stirring platform and received over 65,000 votes.
The election had settled the question of the annexation of Texas, and Tyler, who was now working with the Demo
crats, without waiting for Polk to come into office, Annexation of Texas,
hurried through Congress in the last days of his March 1,
administration a bill providing for the annexation 1845
of Texas by joint resolution. It provided that Texas should be admitted as a State and that with her consent four other States might be formed out of her territory, but that in any State so formed north of the Missouri Compromise line neither slavery nor involuntary servitude should be permitted. The Republic of Texas agreed to the proposed terms, adopted a State constitution, and by joint resolution of December 29, 1845, was admitted into the Union as the State of Texas.
It was formerly the practice of American historians to portray Polk as a man of second-rate ability and to denounce The admin. the Mexican War, which was the most important
event of his administration, as a national crime
into which he ruthlessly led the country. As a matter of fact few, if any, presidents have carried out pre
istration of Polk