Free Soil or Slave? The Dilemma of the West

Critical Thinking Questions

Consider the role of filibusters in American expansion. What are some arguments in favor of filibustering? What are some arguments against it?

What are the economic and political issues raised by having an imbalance between free and slave states? Why did the balance of free and slave states matter?

How did Anglo-American settlers in Texas see themselves? Did they adopt a Mexican identity because they were living in Mexican territory? Why or why not?

Consider the annexation of Texas and the Mexican-American War from a Mexican perspective. What would you find objectionable about American actions, foreign policy, and attitudes in the 1840s?

Describe the place of Texas in the history of American westward expansion by comparing Texas’s early history to the Missouri Crisis in 1819–1820. What are the similarities and what are the differences?

Consider the arguments over the expansion of slavery made by both northerners and southerners in the aftermath of the U.S. victory over Mexico. Who had the more compelling case? Or did each side make equally significant arguments?