Westward Expansion refers to the territorial expansion of the United States from the Atlantic coast to the Pacific coast. In this lesson, we will explore the basic concepts of Westward Expansion, its history, and its impact on the United States.
Westward Expansion involved the acquisition of land from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean. The Louisiana Purchase in 1803 and the Mexican-American War in 1846-1848 were two significant events that led to the expansion of the United States’ territory.
Westward Expansion has a rich and complex history, with some of the most significant historical events and periods including:
Manifest Destiny – the belief that it was the United States’ destiny to expand its territory from the Atlantic to the Pacific, which fueled the push for Westward Expansion.
The California Gold Rush – the discovery of gold in California in 1848, which led to a mass migration of people to the West and the growth of the mining industry.
The Homestead Act – a law passed in 1862 that allowed settlers to claim 160 acres of land in the West, which encouraged the settlement of the Great Plains and the West.
Westward Expansion had a profound impact on the United States, with its consequences felt in various fields, such as:
Economic Growth – Westward Expansion opened up new opportunities for trade and commerce, such as the mining industry, cattle ranching, and agriculture.
Cultural Conflict – Westward Expansion led to conflicts between Native Americans and settlers, resulting in the forced removal of Native American tribes from their lands and the establishment of reservations.
Political Tensions – Westward Expansion intensified the debate over the expansion of slavery, eventually leading to the Civil War.