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  President Pierce promised to continue America's Manifest Destiny into South America.  The island of Cuba, just 90 miles from the United States, some argued would be a natural addition to the expanding union and a perfect slave state.
Cuba's warm climate made it ideal for a plantation economy.  For years, the Spanish had controlled the island and raised sugar on huge plantations of their own.  President Pierce sent Pierre Soule to Spain to offer the Spanish $130 million for Cuba in 1854.  Before going to Spain, Soule meet with several other American ambassadors in Ostend Belgium.  At that meeting, the suggestion was made that if Spain refused to sell Cuba, the United States should take it by force.  Those at the meeting felt that the USA was justified in "wrestling" it away from Spain if they refused to sell.  News of the plan leaked to the press.  European nations were shocked by such a "dishonorable" and "clandestine" plan.  Northerners accused the south of being will to do anything to expand the institution of slavery.  They saw the possible annexation of Cuba as a "slaveholders plot".  In the end, the United States did not take possession of Cuba.