Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Nativist Printer

Washington, D.C.

President James K. Polk was the last of the Jacksonians to sit in the White House. Nicknamed “Little Hickory,” Polk was committed to the concept of Manifest Destiny, using his Democratic majority in the Senate and House of Representatives to rapidly expand the country across the continent. In January 1846, marking the beginning of the first full year of his one-term presidency, the House voted to stop sharing the Oregon Territory with the United Kingdom. Five months later, a treaty was signed in Washington, setting the western border with Canada.1 In May, the United States declared war on Mexico, and although this conflict lasted two years, the annexation of California began almost immediately. During this combative year, some territorial issues were easily resolved, such as when Iowa was admitted as the 29th state or, in another Act of Congress, part of the District of Columbia was returned to Virginia. Fearing that the slave trade in the District would soon be outlawed, Alexandrians petitioned Congress for the land south of the Potomac River. After the retrocession of the thirty-one square miles ceded by Virginia in 1791, the nation’s capital was no longer ten miles square; all that remained was the territory originally donated by Maryland.2, 3