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Office of the Historian
Timeline of U.S. Diplomatic History
1830-1860
  

1830-1860

Diplomacy and Westward Expansion

During this crucial period, the United States pursued a policy of expansion based on "manifest destiny," the ideology that Americans were in fact destined to extend their nation across the continent. The United States even proved to be willing to go to war to secure new territories. While it managed to negotiate an agreement with Great Britain to secure the Oregon territory, acquiring the valuable territory south of it--including California and its important Pacific harbors--required the use of force, and, in 1845, the United States embarked on its first offensive war by invading Mexico. In addition to advancing westward, the United States also continued to expand economically through investment in foreign markets and international trade. With these growing commercial interests, came a larger navy and increased international presence. The United States began to turn to the Pacific for new economic opportunities, establishing a presence in China, and opening Japan and Korea to western commercial interests.


Key Issues and Events

  • Transatlantic Immigration in the mid-19th Century
  • Indian Treaties and the Removal Act of 1830
  • The Amistad Case, 1839
  • Opening to China Part I: Treaty of Wangxia, 1839-44
  • Webster-Ashburton Treaty, 1842  
  • The Oregon Territory
  • The Annexation of Texas, the Mexican-American War, and the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo, 1845-1848
  • The Founding of Liberia, 1847
  • United States Maritime Expansion across the Pacific during the 19th Century  
  • Gadsden Purchase, 1853-1854
  • The United States and the Opening to Japan, 1853
  • Opening to China Part II: Treaty of Tianjin, 1857-59
  • Territorial Expansion, Filibustering, and U.S. Involvement in Central America and Cuba, 1849-1861

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