The Unfinished Nation: Chapter 13: The Impending Crisis


Chapter 13 Main Themes:


  1. The influence of Manifest Destiny on Americans during the period, and how it shaped American policy in Texas, Oregon, California, and the Southwest.

  2. The many events concerning the expansion of slavery into the western territories that deepened divisions between the North and the South and led to the Civil War.

  3. The effect of the dispute over slavery in reshaping the American political-party system, bringing an end to the Whigs and birthing the Republicans.


A thorough study of Chapter 13 should enable the student to understand:

  • The concept of Manifest Destiny and its influence on the nation through the 1840s and beyond.


  • The origin of the Republic of Texas and the controversy concerning its annexation by the United States.


  • The reasons why the United States declared war on Mexico, and how the Mexican War was fought to a successful conclusion.


  • The impact of the Wilmot Proviso on the sectional controversy.


  • The methods used to enact the Compromise of 1850, and its reception by the American people.


  • The role of the major political parties in the widening sectional split.


  • The part played by Stephen A. Douglas in the enactment of the Kansas-Nebraska Act, and the effect of this act on his career and on the attitudes of the people in all sections.


  • The impact of the Dred Scott decision on sectional attitudes and on the prestige of the Supreme Court.


  • The reasons for Abraham Lincoln's victory in 1860, and the effect of his election on the sectional crisis.



Dark Horse:
   A political candidate who is not considered a front runner and whose victory would be surprising to most observers.


Tejanos:  Mexican residents of Texas.


Manifest Destiny: The 19th-century political and philosophical belief that it was America's divinely assigned mission to expand westward (and to establish democratic and Protestant ideals) across the North American continent.