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Map Property Values for He mounted his transition from Whig to Democrat upon an issue already dear to his heart, one that steadily gained in popularity within the Democratic Party and with the general public: westward expansion. By the 1840s the nation had been seized by Oregon Fever, as a thousand settlers a year set out for that territory. The west as a whole soon became a symbol for economic opportunity and nationalistic pride. The Democratic Party already had a history of championing territorial expansion and stood poised to capitalize politically on the frenzy. Tyler’s own claim to the expansionist mantle began in early 1844, when he initiated secret annexation negotiations with the government of the Republic of Texas, which had won independence from Mexico in 1836. Tyler’s secretary of state, the ardently pro-slavery South Carolinian, John Calhoun, introduced an annexation treaty in the Senate in April 1844. Because Calhoun explicitly linked the annexation of Texas as a slave state with the expansion of slavery, Northern opposition defeated the treaty. Map Property Values 2016.