« PreviousContinue »
of that tribunal whose jurisdiction it had steadfastly denied the federal government. Even territorial expansion, which was apparently the great cause of the continued anti-slavery agitation and of the sectional antagonism that was to end in civil war, was from another point of view the best evidence that the nationalizing energies at work in the United States were growing too strong to be overcome. The movement was, at any rate, decisive in its effect on the nationalistic tendency; but for the West, the North and South could hardly have failed to part in peace, and possibly forever.
The conditions, however, of the westward movement were such as to prevent it from affording a complete check to the sectionalization that was arraying the North and South against each other. The western population was by no means completely fused into a single mass with common aims and sympathies; it was distributed in parallel belts in which reappeared, though in much lighter shades, the characteristic differences of the older sections.1 It is questionable whether slavery had any considerable effect in diverting either European or interstate migration from the South; in taking a westerly direction it only followed a natural tendency to move on parallels. The great highways of commerce and travel, which, so far as they were artificial, were due to the same general causes as
1 For earlier phases of western development, see Turner, New West (Am. Nation, XIV.), chaps. v., vi.
the migration itself, extended mainly east and west, not north and south. Immigrants from New England and New York moved westward by the Erie Canal, those from Pennsylvania by the central railway and canal system from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh, and those from Maryland and Virginia by the National Road. Beyond the Alleghanies the principal available routes were the Great Lakes, the National Road, and the Ohio River. Immigrants from New England and the middle states were predominant in the Ohio Valley and along the Lakes; while the southern part of Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois, and the whole of Missouri were peopled mainly from the South.1 The economic contrast, while not so sharp in the Mississippi Valley as on the Atlantic slope, was too serious to be disregarded by even the most thorough-going nationalist. Gradually the West also became sectionalized, and the expansionist impulse, with a divided people back of it, lost its unity and steadiness.
The growing influx from Europe stimulated the westward movement in the North, and the free states were soon filled with a teeming population that pressed against the frontier of slavery wherever it sought to expand. This it was that made free states also of California and of Kansas; and this that in the hour of the supreme test gave a new meaning to the Constitution, and cast the balance in favor of nationality.
1 Turner, in Am. Hist. Review, XI., 309. 318.
THE FIELD FOR EXPANSION
T the opening of the period covered by this volume there was still a large unsettled area within the acknowledged limits of the United States, especially towards the west and northwest. Only in the extreme southwest, and from Lake Erie eastward in the north, did the frontier press upon the political boundary. In the northeast there was an extensive district, comprising substantially that part of the upper valley of the St. John River west of a line drawn north from the source of the St. Croix, in dispute between Great Britain and the United States, and the dispute demanded settlement. This, however, was not because the adjacent population on either side was pressing towards the disputed section, but rather because the border friction of two aggressive nationalities, together with other causes of difference between them, threatened to bring about a war.
The open field was towards the west, and in that direction was the migratory impulse. The westward movement of population had already gone
far beyond the acknowledged boundary-line; not, indeed, by simply pushing forward over the unoccupied lands adjacent to the frontier, but by the establishment of remote colonies either in disputed or in foreign territory. Large numbers of AngloAmerican emigrants went to Texas after the claim of the United States to that country was definitely given up in 1819; and a few made their way to the Mexican province of California, and more to Oregon, the possession of which was in dispute between the United States and Great Britain.
The Anglo-American movement into Texas began with a series of invasions, the first of which was organized at Natchez in 1800 by Philip Nolan. The party numbered twenty-one, and the leader gave out as the object of the enterprise a hunt for wild horses. Whatever less innocent projects he had in view, he was killed in the course of the expedition, and his men were captured by a Spanish force despatched from Nacogdoches for that purpose.1 The cession of Louisiana soon afterwards was almost immediately followed by the Burr conspiracy, which was probably aimed at a seizure of Spanish territory. Six years later, in 1812, came a much more serious filibustering expedition, which
1 Garrison, Texas, 111-114; for Nolan's career in Texas and the history of his expedition, see "The Real Philip Nolan”. (Miss. Hist. Soc., Publications, IV., 281–330); Texas Almanac, 1868, pp. 60-64; Yoakum, Hist. of Texas, I., 403-409.
2 Channing, Jeffersonian System (Am. Nation, XII.), 157–160; McCaleb, Aaron Burr Conspiracy, vii.-ix., 1-15.
took advantage of a period of disturbance in Spanish America due to the Napoleonic occupation of Spain. This expedition was led by Augustus Magee, who had been a lieutenant in the United States army, and Bernardo Gutierrez, a Mexican Liberal, who had been driven from Mexico after the rising of Hidalgo. The filibusters, whose force at one time amounted to over three thousand, including eight hundred and fifty Anglo-Americans, captured Béxar (San Antonio) and held it for a time, but were ultimately defeated and dispersed.1
Another invasion, which followed in 1819, and which was due to dissatisfaction with the surrender of Texas by the treaty with Spain made in February of that year, was led by James Long, who had married a niece of General Wilkinson. It is quite likely that Wilkinson, who was a patron of Nolan, could have told much more about the motive of both Long's and Nolan's expeditions than ever went on record. However this may be, Long's invasion was hardly on a sufficient scale either to conquer or to revolutionize Texas. At its maximum, his force amounted to only about three hundred; and, though the Spanish hold on the province was feeble, it was not to be broken by such a handful of men. Long captured Nacogdoches and set up an independent republic, but it was soon dissolved by the advance of the Spanish troops, who captured part of his men and drove out the rest. 1 See below, p. 25 n.