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America 1844: Religious Fervor, Westward Expansion, and the Presidential Election That Transformed the Nation

By John Bicknell

The presidential election of 1844 was once one of many or 3 such a lot momentous elections in American historical past. Had Henry Clay received rather than James okay. Polk, we’d be dwelling in a truly diverse nation this present day. Polk’s victory cemented the westward growth that introduced Texas, California, and Oregon into the union. It additionally happened amid non secular turmoil that incorporated anti-Mormon and anti-Catholic violence, and the “Great Disappointment,” during which hundreds of thousands of fans of an imprecise preacher named William Miller believed Christ might go back to earth in October 1844.

            writer and journalist John Bicknell info much more compelling, interwoven occasions that happened in this momentous 12 months: the homicide of Joseph Smith, the non secular fermentation of the second one nice Awakening, John C. Frémont’s exploration of the West, Charles Goodyear’s patenting of vulcanized rubber, the near-death of President John Tyler in a freak naval explosion, and masses extra. All of those components illustrate the competing visions of the yankee future—Democrats as opposed to Whigs, Mormons as opposed to Millerites, nativists as opposed to Catholics, those that risked the enterprise westward as opposed to those that stayed properly behind—and how Polk’s election cemented the imaginative and prescient of a continental nation.

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He gave the impression of Clay whilst he declared annexation “a depressing political humbug acquired up as a ruse to divide and distract the Whig celebration on the South,” and he urged the candidate to prevent the catch. starting to weary of the entire job, Clay canceled stops in Madison, Georgia, and Greensboro, North Carolina, and begged out of any speeches, receptions, and public occasions in Columbia, South Carolina. Recharged a section after his relaxation within the capital urban, he improved to Charleston, which greeted him with an army salute and a parade. He reciprocated by means of supplying a two-hour speech and attending a festive dinner and ball. Up the coast he went to Wilmington, North Carolina, for extra speechifying, then directly to Raleigh, the place hundreds of thousands grew to become out to welcome him on April 12, his sixty-seventh birthday. It have been a profitable travel. Clay felt convinced that he had accomplished his target of uniting Northern and Southern Whigs in the back of his candidacy, and that he had set the degree for a sweeping electoral victory. Others within the celebration have been both sanguine. They believed that citizens most popular their fiscal application and that Clay was once a superb candidate to an individual the Democrats may well provide, specifically Van Buren. This used to be the yr, they have been yes, that the diversities among the events may be the starkest, and citizens may have a transparent selection among drastically assorted futures. precise, electorate had principally rejected the Whigs in neighborhood and congressional elections in 1841, ’42, and ’43, however the better turnout anticipated for the presidential contest, as in 1840, could deliver out all those that shared their imaginative and prescient. “We have consistently insisted that the Whig occasion has simply to put its nice targeted ideas rather and completely ahead of the folk, suggest them fearlessly and admittedly, and persist with them, to safe their hearty and early adoption by way of the nice mass of the folks. we now have new affirmation of this view virtually daily,” Whig newspaper editor Horace Greeley optimistically declared. Clay definitely concurred in Greeley’s evaluate. yet all of the sturdy he had performed himself in the course of the greater than months of campaigning around the South will be undone in North Carolina’s capital urban. “IF we won't BEAT VAN BUREN, we will be able to BEAT nobody” The Democrats had a pacesetter, too, yet Martin Van Buren’s place atop his party’s heap of power presidential applicants was once significantly extra tenuous than used to be Henry Clay’s atop that of the Whigs. the basis of Van Buren’s challenge can be traced again to his choice as Andrew Jackson’s vice presidential candidate in 1832. John C. Calhoun had resigned as vice chairman over a bunch of adjustments with Jackson. Van Buren hence succeeded Calhoun as Jackson’s inheritor obvious. The movement solidified the Democrats as a countrywide social gathering with wings in either North and South, with Calhoun at the outdoors having a look in. His animus towards Van Buren may simply develop through the years. As 1844 had approached, Calhoun was once nonetheless wonderful techniques of creating a run for the presidency himself, and he had the help of numerous meant allies of President Tyler, together with Abel Upshur.

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