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Title:The Southern perception of the Trans-Mississippi West, 1845-1853
Author(s):Dunning, David Michael
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Johannsen, Robert W.
Department / Program:History
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):History, United States
Abstract:This thesis examines the awareness and response of the slave states to the conditions and events in the Trans-Mississippi West from Texas Annexation through the Oregon Question, Mexican War, California Gold Rush, Compromise of 1850 to the Pacific Railroad and Gadsden Purchase. The people of the Southern states responded to these national issues of westward expansion from 1845 to 1853 as Americans. And as Americans, the partisan differences between Whig and Democrat and the regional conflict between Easterner and Westerner over the desirability, need and rate of expansion divided Southerners. On the potentially divisive issue of slavery expansion, most assumed that the role of slavery in the expansion process had been resolved earlier by the Missouri Compromise Line of 36$\sp\circ$30'. Most also assumed that slavery needed to expand to survive and in the environmental determinism of the "natural law of slavery."
Few Americans or Southerners knew much about the Trans-Mississippi West in 1845. As Southerners acquired more detailed knowledge, especially in the years between 1845 and 1850, those who were interested in expansion came to realize that the West offered plenty of opportunity, even for their "peculiar" institutions. During the course of the events which brought this awareness, however, they began to learn that the rest of the nation did not share their assumption about the Missouri Compromise Line of 36$\sp\circ$30'. First the Wilmot Proviso, then the rejection of the Burt Amendment to the Oregon Territorial Bill, and finally the issue of California statehood redefined the terms of expansion. Only in the case of the pointed sectional attack of the Wilmot Proviso did the South respond with any real sectional unity. Otherwise, a divided South, split by both the partisan and the regional perceptual differences between Southeasterner and Southwesterner, tried to come to grasp with what was determining the future of the Trans-Mississippi West. Even after these moves toward territorial exclusion, the same divisions thwarted the one last effort to bind the new lands of the West to the South by a transcontinental railroad.
Issue Date:1995
Rights Information:Copyright 1995 Dunning, David Michael
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI9543574
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI9543574

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