Thomas Hart Benton

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Missouri Senator Thomas Hart Benton was an ardent advocate of U.S. westward expansion in the 1830s and 1840s. In the Senate, he used his position of seniority and power to support initiatives that would allow the United States to claim territories between the Mississippi River and the Pacific Ocean. Benton introduced his friend James Magoffin to President Polk. Subsequently, Polk asked Magoffin to accompany Kearny’s Army of the West to New Mexico in the hopes that Magoffin could negotiate a bloodless transfer of the territory to U.S. control.