Western Expansion, Manifest Destiny, and the Mexican-American War

Start Free Trial

How did the belief in “Manifest Destiny” come to divide the nation?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Most Americans were initially in favor of expansion. James K. Polk was able to defeat Washington insider Henry Clay by using this platform in 1844. However, there were unintended consequences to Manifest Destiny.

There were a small group of Whigs who protested the Mexican War in 1846. The major claim was that this was an imperialist war instigated by the United States as American troops invaded Mexico. This was an unpopular view, and it cost several Whigs their Congressional seats. Abolitionists spoke out against the Mexican War as they stated that it was a land grab by Southern slaveholders meant to disrupt the balance of power in the Senate that had existed thanks to the Missouri Compromise of 1820. The abolitionists rightly claimed that the war was waged by a Southern president and led by several Southern leaders. It did not help matters when Southerners hatched a plan to buy Cuba from Spain in order to add yet another Southern slave state to the nation. Fortunately, Spain...

(The entire section contains 4 answers and 1067 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial
Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on