Cliff Notes for Chapter 10:
Westward Expansion


[audio]The following information was presented in this chapter:

Between 1783 and 1848 the political boundaries of the United States increased tremendously. The expansion of the United States occurred westward. Three main groups of Americans settled the frontier in successive stages. The three main groups of people were hunters and fur trappers, pioneer farmers, and permanent settlers. From the colonist perspective, the frontier was considered to be the land that did not have many white settlers. White settlers continually moved west and formed communities. As each successive group of settlers moved further west, what was considered the frontier also got pushed further west. Out of the communities that were formed, small towns often emerged and some grew into large cities. As westward expansion continued, areas became more populated, self-governments were developed and territories were made into states. Eventually, the political boundaries of the United States grew from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean. To gain an understanding of the reasons for westward expansion and the consequent changes in the political boundaries of the United States, it is important to look at:

Why people moved west:

  • Land - One of the primary reasons people moved westward was for land. Land was plentiful and inexpensive. Settlers would look for areas with rich farmland.
  • Natural resources - The California Gold Rush is an example of people moving westward for natural resources. Other natural resources include timber and mineral ore.
  • Freedom of religion - The Mormons moved westward to gain freedom to practice their religious beliefs without being persecuted.
  • Economic considerations - Many people took a New York newspaper editor's advice to move west and take advantage of the many economic opportunities.

    [audio]How the political boundaries grew:

  • Manifest Destiny - The belief in Manifest Destiny supported a westward expansion of the political boundaries of the United States.
  • Self Government - As the population increased in the west, self-governments were instituted. One example is the Northwest Ordinance which set up the process by which local governments were formed and territories made into states.
  • The Treaty of Paris - (1783) The treaty that ended the Revolutionary War expanded the political boundaries of the United States westward to the Mississippi River (except for Florida).
  • Louisiana Purchase - (1803) The Louisiana Purchase added most of what is now considered the mid-west, and parts of the western United States.
  • Treaty of Spain - (1819) The Treaty of Spain added Florida to the United States. Annexation of Texas - (1845) Texas was annexed despite the political problems it would cause with Mexico.
  • Oregon Country - (1846) The Oregon Country had been under the political control of both the United States and Britain. However, in 1846, the Oregon Country was divided. The boundary was set at the 49th parallel. The United States controlled the southern portion and Britain controlled north of the 49th parallel.
  • The Mexican War (The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo) - (1848) The U.S. won the war and forced Mexico to accept the annexation of Texas to the U.S. Also, Mexico was forced to sell its land that now contains the states of California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, and parts of New Mexico, Colorado, and Wyoming.

    [audio]Who's who in this chapter:

  • The first group of settlers: the hunters and fur trappers.
  • The second group of settlers: the pioneer farmers.
  • The third group of settlers: the permanent settlers (ordinary people).
  • Daniel Boone: A famous fur trapper and hunter.
  • Horace Greeley: New York newspaper editor famous for his advice that became shortened to "go west young man".
  • Mormons: Example of a religious group who moved westward for freedom of religion.
  • General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna: The dictator of Mexico in the 1830s.
  • Sam Houston: Leader of the Texan army.