|1830||Mexico bans American immigration to Texas and bans slavery in Texas|
Siege of Alamo
Texas wins independence from Mexico
|1844||James K. Polk elected president|
John O’Sullivan coins phrase “manifest destiny”
Texas admitted to United States; Mexico breaks off diplomatic relations with United States
Mexican War begins
Wilmot Proviso defeated in the Senate
|1848||Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo|
|1848||Zachary Taylor elected president|
|1849||California Gold Rush|
Compromise of 1850
Fugitive Slave Act of 1850
Zachary Taylor dies in office; Millard Fillmore becomes president
Between 1830 and 1850, the United States continued to expand its territory. It fought a successful war against Mexico, gaining vast amounts of western and southwestern land in exchange for a cash payment. It admitted two of its largest states, Texas and California, into the Union. It reached a settlement with Great Britain that gave it control of Oregon Country south of the present Canadian border. People flowed westward in a steady stream to settle the new territory; after 1848, migrants chased dreams of finding gold in California.
The trail westward led through the Great Plains, which, as the U.S. expanded, had been set aside for the Indians and was known as Indian Territory. Indians had prospered on this land, hunting wild buffalo and migrating with the herds. The thousands of pioneers traveling west disrupted their lifestyle and also decimated the buffalo population; travelers on the Oregon Trail killed the buffalo for food to sustain them on the journey. At an 1851 conference, the United States and the American Indians reached an agreement highly favorable to the United States. Plains Indians would confine themselves to certain areas rather than ranging freely across the plains, and the United States would compensate them in food and trade goods.
As new states applied to enter the Union, Congress continued to quarrel over the issue of slavery. Southern states threatened to leave the Union if any measures favorable to abolition were passed. In the end, they allowed California to enter the Union as a free state only at the price of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850—a law that established such harsh measures against escaped slaves that it turned many in the North into antislavery activists.
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