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

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Discuss the similarities and differences in the process for how California and Texas were settled and how they became part of the United States.

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There are some very interesting similarities and differences in the states of Texas and California pertaining to how they became parts of the United States. Both of them, at one point, were part of Mexico. When the Spanish took control of large portions of Central America, they laid claim to...

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There are some very interesting similarities and differences in the states of Texas and California pertaining to how they became parts of the United States. Both of them, at one point, were part of Mexico. When the Spanish took control of large portions of Central America, they laid claim to much of what is now Western America—including Texas and California. Eventually, Mexico gained independence from Spain but still held control over those two states.

Mexico actually encouraged Americans to settle in Texas, trying to increase its population. They offered land grants and subsidies to encourage immigration. However, soon, Americans outnumbered Mexicans in the state. It eventually declared independence from Mexico and became its own, separate republic—the Lone Star Republic. Deciding to eventually join the United States, it was barred for several years to maintain balance between slave and free states.

California was relinquished to the United States upon the States' victory in the Mexican American War. The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo relinquished large portions of Mexican land to the US. California became a region where many would eventually go to settle. The population began to boom when gold was discovered, and when it grew large enough, California was admitted as a state, while additional states were created concurrently to maintain balance once again.

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Both California and Texas were initially part of Mexico, though both territories were hard to govern from Mexico City given the terrain and distance. The Mexican government initially welcomed American settlers into Texas on the conditions that they would become Catholic and not own slaves. The American settlers did not abandon their Protestant faith or leave their slaves in the United States, and soon they argued for independence. After a series of battles ending with the Battle of San Jacinto, the Republic of Texas was born, with Sam Houston as its first president. Since bringing in this slave state would upset the balance of power in Congress, the United States did not take any action on this and allowed Texas to remain a republic. This changed during the administration of John Tyler, a slaveholder, when he brought Texas in as a state in 1845. Under the leadership of James K. Polk, Texas got to expand its territory from the Nuecces River to the Rio Grande with the Mexican War in 1846. Texas was always a slave state, and the eastern part of it would become a primary cotton producer for the United States.

California had some American settlers before the Mexican War in 1846, but they were mainly ranchers and farmers. During the war, California declared itself a republic but it was for a very short time, as the region was eager to get into the United States. The discovery of gold in 1848 led to a massive surge to the area around Sutter's Mill. People came from all over the world, including Europe and Asia, making California a more cosmopolitan place than Texas. In 1850, California asked to enter the Union without ever becoming a territory; it was successful in its request and joined the Union as a free state. The Compromise of 1850 was brokered in order to allow California to enter, as its existence as a free state voided the Compromise of 1820.

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California and Texas became states in different ways and followed different processes in becoming a state. Texas was a part of Spain. The Spanish wanted more people to settle in Texas, so they offered land to people if they were willing to establish a settlement in Texas. Moses and Stephen Austin established a colony in Texas. After Mexico got its independence from Spain in 1821, Texas was a part of Mexico. Mexico encouraged Americans to settle in Texas by offering land grants. As more American settled in Texas, the Mexican government became concerned that too many Americans were settling there. The Americans did not want to do some of the things they had agreed to do, such as becoming Catholic and becoming Mexican citizens. They also wanted documents printed in English instead of in Spanish. Eventually, a revolution occurred and Texas broke away from Mexico. It became an independent country in 1836 known as The Lone Star Republic. Because of concerns about upsetting the balance between free and slave states (and fears that Mexico might attack us), Texas did not become a state until 1845. In 1845, Texas became part of the United States.

California had been part of Mexican land until the Mexican-American War ended. When Mexico lost this war, Mexico gave a lot of land to the United States in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. California was part of the land that we gained from Mexico. When gold was discovered in California, many Americans moved to California in 1849 hoping to strike it rich. As a result, California’s population exploded. By 1850, California had enough people living there in order to be admitted as a state. Because California wrote a constitution that banned slavery, it had to be a free state. The Compromise of 1850 was made. This allowed California to become a state. Popular sovereignty would be used to determine if the Utah and New Mexico territories would have slavery.

California and Texas followed different paths and processes in achieving statehood.

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