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,
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
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
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
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.
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
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
General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna: The dictator of Mexico in
Sam Houston: Leader of the Texan army.