54 (40 or Fight)

54o40′ or fight!

In 1844, that was the campaign slogan of James K. Polk that helped him get elected the 11th President of the United States and defeat Henry Clay.  At that time, the Oregon Territory was jointly occupied by both Great Britain and the United States since the Treaty of 1818.  Thousands of American farmers had traveled 2,000 miles (10+3) along the Oregon Trail from Missouri to Oregon.   “Polk called for expansion that included Texas, California, and the entire Oregon territory. The northern boundary of Oregon was the latitude line of 54 degrees, 40 minutes.”  Later in 1848, President Polk compromised with Great Britain at the 49th parallel (of latitude or 49 degrees).  For the first time, the United States’ boundaries extended from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean. (10+5) Today the 49th parallel is still the border with Canada and the United States.

For more about the expansion of the United States while Polk was President, here is a link to a classroom lesson from the Smithsonian Center for Education and Museum Studies which compares expansion gained by treaties as compared to by wars.  “… (B)etween 1846 and 1848 the United States gained more than one million square miles of territory.” (10+6)

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