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1815-1850: Government and Politics: Chronology

1815-1850: Government and Politics: Chronology




  • 5 Jan. The Hartford Convention concludes after considering secession and proposing revisions to the federal Constitution instead.
  • 8 Jan. Gen. Andrew Jackson and a ragtag army of two thousand frontiersmen, freed slaves, Choctaw Indians, and Frenchmen defeat a British army at New Orleans.
  • 3 Mar. Congress authorizes hostilities against the Barbary pirates.


  • The first postwar Congress charters the Second Bank of the United States and passes an internal improvements bill and the Tariff of 1816.
  • Nov. James Monroe defeats Federalist Rufus King for the presidency, winning 183 electoral votes to Kings 34.
  • 11 Dec. Indiana is admitted to the Union.



  • The Convention of 1818 between the United States and Great Britain sets the border between the United States and Canada at the forty-ninth parallel and establishes joint occupation of Oregon.
  • Gen. Andrew Jackson invades Florida to suppress the Seminoles. Two British traders are executed for their alleged support of the Seminoles.
  • 3 Dec. Illinois is admitted to the Union, creating a balance of eleven free states and eleven slave states.


  • Under the Adams-Onis Treaty, Spain cedes Florida to the United States.
  • 14 Dec. Alabama is admitted to the Union.



  • 10 Aug. Missouri is admitted to the Union.



  • 2 Dec. President James Monroe delivers a message to Congress, warning European countries not to colonize or interfere with the Western Hemisphere. This policy comes to be known as the Monroe Doctrine.


  • 30 Mar. Henry Clay defines his American System in a speech supporting a protective tariff that would generate revenue to fund internal improvements that would in turn expand the American economy.
  • Nov. John Quincy Adams, Andrew Jackson, Henry Clay, and William Crawford run for the presidency. Jackson wins the popular and electoral votes but fails to secure an electoral majority, requiring the House of Representatives to determine the winner.


  • President James Monroe calls for the voluntary removal of Native Americans from the East to lands west of the Mississippi River.
  • 9 Feb. The House selects John Quincy Adams as president. Adams makes Henry Clay his secretary of state. Andrew Jackson supporters charge that Adams and Clay had entered a corrupt bargain to steal the presidency from Jackson.
  • 12 Feb. The Creek Indian Treaty is signed, turning over all Creek lands in Georgia to the federal government.



  • 15 Nov. The Creek Indians cede their remaining land in the southeastern United States.


  • 19 May President John Quincy Adams signs the Tariff of Abominations into law.
  • Nov. Andrew Jackson defeats Adams in the presidential election. Jacksons wins 178 electoral votes to Adamss 83 votes.


  • 4 Mar. Andrew Jackson is inaugurated as president.


  • Jan. Daniel Webster and Robert Hayne debate the federal tariff in the United Stated Senate.
  • 13 Apr. At the annual Jefferson Day Dinner, in John C. Calhouns presence, Andrew Jackson clearly warns against nullification with his toast, Our Federal Union, it must be preserved.
  • 27 May President Jackson vetoes the Maysville Road Bill.
  • 28 May Jackson signs the Indian Removal Act to provide money to purchase land from the Creeks, Seminoles, Cherokees, Chickasaws, and Choctaws and to relocate them in present-day Oklahoma and Arkansas.


  • The federal government forces Black Hawk, a leader of the Sauk and Fox Indians, to move from Illinois into Iowa, allowing white settlers to take over the land.
  • The Choctaw Indians become the first to walk the Trail of Tears to their new home in Oklahoma. Many die from malnutrition, exposure, and cholera.
  • Seminole Indians in Florida sign a treaty with the federal government to remove them from their land and open it to white settlement.
  • 31 May Congress adjourns before President Andrew Jackson acts on several improvement bills. Jackson thus institutes the concept of the pocket veto by refusing to sign legislation before the end of the congressional session.
  • Sept. The Anti-Masonic Party holds the first modern political nominating convention and selects William Wirt as its presidential candidate.


  • Nicholas Biddle and Henry Clay attempt to recharter the Second Bank of the United States, forcing President Andrew Jackson to either agree to the bank or veto the charter.
  • 10 July Jackson vetoes the bank charter, claiming the bank is a monster because of its exclusive power.
  • Nov. South Carolina nullifies the tariffs of 1828 and 1832. Meanwhile, Jackson defeats Henry Clay for the presidency, winning 219 electroal votes to Clays 49 votes.
  • Dec. At President Jacksons request Congress passes the Force Bill to compel South Carolina to abide by federal tariffs.


  • 12 Feb. John C. Calhoun and Henry Clay work out the details of the Compromise Tariff of 1833, revising the list of duty-free goods and reducing duties over nine years.
  • 1 Mar. The Compromise Tariff of 1833 and Force Bill are singed into law.
  • 1 Oct. Secretary of the Treasury Roger Taney begins to deposit government money in pet banks.


  • 28 Mar. The Senate votes twenty-six to twenty to censure Andrew Jackson for removing federal deposits from the Second Bank of the United States.


  • Jan The national dept is paid off.
  • Nov. The Second Seminole War begins in Florida when some Seminole Indians, led by Osceola, refuse to leave their land, in defiance of an 1832 treaty.
  • 3 Nov. American colonists in Texas adopt a constitution but do not declare their independence from Mexico.


  • Congress passes the Distribution Act.
  • Andrew Jackson issues the Spice Circular requiring that federal land purchases be made with gold and silver.
  • 23 Feb.6 Mar. Mexican troops under Santa Anna besiege the Alamo.
  • 2 Mar. Texas declares independence from Mexico.
  • 14 Mar. The Senate passes a Gag Rule thirty-four to six. The rule calls for the receipt and automatic tabling of all antislavery petitions, preventing discussion of the issue.
  • 21 Apr. Texans and American volunteers under Sam Houston defeat the Mexican army at the Battle of San Jacinto and capture Santa Anna, who agrees to Texass independence.
  • 26 May. The House enacts the Gag Rule.
  • 15 June Arkansas is admitted to the Union.
  • Nov. Democrat Martin Van Buren becomes president after defeating three Whig opponents, Daniel Webster, Hugh Lawson White, and William Henry Harrison. Van Buren secures 170 electoral votes. Webster, his nearest competitor, wins 73 votes.


  • Canadian officials cross the border and burn a United States ship, the Caroline, for having supplied a group of rebels against the Canadian government.
  • 26 Jan. Michigan is admitted to the Union.


  • Oct. Indian reaches its height as seven thousand federal troops forcibly remove fourteen thousand Cherokee Indians from Georgia to Oklahoma. Four thousand Cherokees die along the Trail of Tears.


  • 4 Dec. The Whigs hold their first national nominating convention.



  • 4 Apr. President William Henry Harrison dies of pneumonia, and John Tyler assumes the presidency.
  • 16 Aug. President Tyler vetoes the Independent Treasury Act.


  • The Webster-Ashburton Treaty settles the border between the United States and Canada in the Northeast.
  • The Second Seminole War ends, at a cost to the United States of fifteen hundred dead and $20 million.


  • June The American Republican Party is formed in New York City. It grows out of the Native American Association, an anti-Catholic, anti-immigrant organization. The party becomes defunct by 1853.


  • Feb. A cannon on the U.S.S. Princeton explodes, killing Secretary of State Abel P. Upshur and several others. President John Tyler replaces him with John C. Calhoun.
  • Nov. Democratic candidate James Polk defeats Henry Clay ad Liberty Party candidate James Birney with 170 electoral votes to Clays 105.
  • Dec. The House and Senate repeal all Gag Rules.


  • Feb. Congress passes a joint resolution annexing Texas.
  • 1 Mar. President John Tyler signs Texas annexation resolution.
  • 3 Mar. Florida is admitted to the Union.
  • 4 Mar. James Polk is inaugurated as president.
  • 6 Mar. Mexico breaks off diplomatic relations with the United States.
  • 14 June The Bear Flag Revolt in California begins.
  • 29 Dec. Texas is admitted to the Union.


  • Congress passes the Walker Tariff.
  • 13 Jan. President James K. Polk order Gen. Zachary Taylor to the Rio Grande.
  • 89 May Taylor defeats a Mexican force at Palo Alto and Resaca de la Palma.
  • 13 May The United States declares war on Mexico. The A Senate votes 40 to 2 and the House votes 174 to 14 in favor of war.
  • 18 May Taylor invades Mexico.
  • 15 June The Senate ratifies a treaty with Britain fixing the Oregon Territory border at the forty-ninth parallel.
  • 8 Aug. Pennsylvania Democrat David Wilmot seeks to amend an appropriation bill to bar slavery from any territory acquired during the war with Mexico.
  • 12 Dec. the United States and New Granada (present-day Colombia and Panama) sign a treaty that gives the United States a right-of-way across the Isthmus of Panama.
  • 28 Dec. Iowa is admitted to the Union.


  • 2223 Feb. Taylors troops win the Battle of Buena Vista.
  • 9 Mar. American forces under Gen. Winfield Scott land in Mexico at Veracruz.
  • 14 Sept. American forces capture Mexico City.


  • 2 Jan. Peace talks begin between the United States and Mexico.
  • 2 Feb. American diplomat Nicholas Trist signs the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo with Mexico. The United States receives California, New Mexico (including modern Arizona and Nevada), and Texas to the Rio Grande for $15 Million.
  • 10 Mar. The Senate ratifies the peace treaty with Mexico, thirty-eight to fourteen.
  • 29 May Wisconsin is admitted to the Union.
  • Nov. Whig Zachary Taylor defeats Democrat Lewis Cass and Free-Soil Martin Van Buren, with 163 electoral votes to 127 for Cass.


  • Nearly eighty thousand 49ers food California looking for gold.
  • 4 Dec. In his first annual message, President Zachary Taylor proposes the immediate admission of California as a state, bypassing the territorial stage.


  • Jan. Henry Clay presents a compromise plan to the Senate in order t end the conflict over slavery in the territory won from Mexico.
  • 4 Mar. John C. Calhoun addresses the Senate, arguing for the expansion of slavery in all western territory.
  • 7 Mar. Daniel Webster responds to Calhoun in the Senate and backs Clays compromise plan.
  • 11 Mar. New York senator William Seward replies to Websters speech with his high law antislavery speech.
  • 31 Mar. Calhoun dies.
  • 19 Apr. In the Clayton-Bulwer Treaty, Great Britain and the United States promise not to seek exclusive control of routes across the Central American isthmus.
  • 9 July President Zachary Taylor, an opponent of Clays compromise, dies. Vice President Millard Fillmore, who favors the compromise, becomes president.
  • 31 July Clays Omnibus Compromise is defeated in the Senate.
  • Aug.Sept. Illinois Democrat Stephen Douglas separates the various compromise provisions, and the Senate and House vote in favor of each.
  • 20 Sept. President Fillmore signs the final legislation pertaining to the Compromise of 1850. The compromise admits California as a free state, allows the territorial legislatures of New Mexico and Utah to settle the slavery issue on their own, enacts a stronger fugitive slave law, outlaws the slave trade in the District of Columbia, and gives Texas $10 million to abandon its claims to territory in New Mexico.

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