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Missionaries of RepublicanismA Religious History of the Mexican-American War$
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John C. Pinheiro

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199948673

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199948673.001.0001

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Election, Manifest Destiny, and War

Election, Manifest Destiny, and War

(p.53) 3 Election, Manifest Destiny, and War
Missionaries of Republicanism

John C. Pinheiro

Oxford University Press

1. With Congress unable to decide on Texas annexation before its summer recess, the elections of 1844 promised to double as a referendum on Texas. Whigs and Democrats realized they would have to choose carefully their positions and presidential candidates. This was less true of the new group of anti-slavery advocates: the Liberty Party. Democrat James K. Polk barely won the election, pledging to “reannex” Texas (which was accomplished before he took office), purchase California, and abrogate the Oregon treaty with Great Britain. Americans now recognized that any expansion outside of Oregon would come at the expense of Catholic Mexico. By 1845 the literature had shaped American views of their southern neighbor as a decrepit pseudo-republic cursed by despotism and superstition, complementing extant stories involving priests, nuns, and confessionals and fitting older ecclesiastical and theological arguments against the Catholic Church. By the time war erupted, Americans were accustomed to a rhetoric of anti-Catholicism and Anglo-Saxonism that had become inseparable from Manifest Destiny sentiment, while giving them the most effective means of understanding their role in advancing republican principles. This rhetoric soon proved flexible enough both to support military conquest, the denigration of the enemy, and annexation and to oppose them.

Keywords:   Henry Clay, Theodore Frelinghuysen, James K. Polk, nativism, Liberty Party, Oregon, Texas, Manifest Destiny, John L. O’Sullivan, whiteness

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