Polk the Purposeful Polk laid out a 4-point mission for himself and the nation (then achieved all 4 points in 4 years) Lower the tariff Restore the independent treasury (put U.S. money into non-government banks) Clear up the Oregon border issue Get California One of Polk?s acts was to lower the tariff, and his secretaryof the treasury, Robert J. Walker, did so, lowering the tariff from 32%to 25% despite complaints by the industrialists. Despite warnings of doom, the new tariff was followed by good times. He also restored the independent treasury in 1846 and wanted to acquire California and settle the Oregon dispute. Under Polk, the Oregon border issue was settled. While the Democrats had promoted acquiring all of Oregon duringtheir campaign, after the annexation of Texas, the Southern Democratsdidn?t much care anymore. England and the U.S. had been bargaining for Oregon land to answer, "Where is the border of Oregon?" England first answered 42o latitude; then said the Columbia River The U.S. first answered 54o40' latitude; then said 49o latititude Things were tense for a while, but England realized there were moreAmericans in Oregon than Brits?their leverage was small. So, the British proposed a treaty that would separate British and American claims at the **49th parallel (excluding Vancouver), a proposal that Polk threw to the Senate, and which accepted. The U.S. got the better of the deal since the British second-choice was rejected but the Americans' second-choice was accepted and as with the Maine treaty, the U.S. got a bit more land than England did Those angry with the deal cried, ?Why all of Texas but notall of Oregon?? The cold, hard answer was that because Mexico wasweak and that England was strong. X. Misunderstandings with Mexico Polk wanted California, but this was difficult due to strained U.S.-Mexican relations. After the annexation of Texas, Mexico had recalled its foreignminister, and before, it had been forced to default on its payments of$3 million to the U.S. Also, when Texas claimed its southern boundary to be the Rio Grandeand not the Nueces River like Mexico said, Polk felt that he had todefend Texas and did so. The U.S. then sent John Slidell to Mexico City as an envoyinstructed to buy California for $25 million, however, once he arrived,the Mexican government, pressured by its angry people, refused to seehim, thus ?snubbing? him. XI. American Blood on American (?) Soil A frustrated Polk now forced a showdown, and on Jan. 13, 1846, heordered 4000 men under Zachary Taylor to march from the Nueces River tothe Rio Grande, provocatively near Mexican troops. As events would have it, on April 25, 1846, news of Mexican troopscrossing the Rio Grande and killing of wounding 16 Americans came toWashington, and Polk pushed for a declaration of war A group of politicians, though, wanted to know where exactly wasthe spot of the fighting before committing to war; among them wasAbraham ?Spotty? Lincoln because of his ?SpotResolution.? Pushed by Polk, Congress declared war, and so began the Mexican-American War.
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