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Westward Expansion

James Polk

Westward Expansion: James Polk was the 11th American President who served in office from March 4, 1845 to March 4, 1849. One of the important events during his presidency was the notion of the Manifest Destiny of the United States and the continuance of the Westward Expansion.

Definition and Summary of the Westward Expansion
Summary and definition:
What does Westward Expansion mean? The term Westward Expansion encompasses the acquisition of territories by the United States across the whole area of the North American continent from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west.

Westward expansion was enabled by buying land, wars, treaties and the displacement of Native American Indians. The rapid settlement of territories gained during  the process of Westward Expansion was made possible by progressive transportation systems such as roads, canals and the railroads and the belief in the Manifest Destiny of the United States of America.

When did Westward Expansion begin?
Westward Expansion began with the settlement of the first 13 colonies in the East. The 1783 Treaty of Paris was signed on September 3, 1783 and ended the American Revolutionary War and established the early U.S. boundaries.

When did Westward Expansion end?
Westward Expansion ended on February 14, 1912 when Arizona was admitted to the Union as the last of the 48 contiguous (adjoining) states. The admittance of Arizona to the Union completed the process of conquering, establishing and organizing the American West.

Who was involved in the Westward Expansion?
It could be said that between 1783-1912 all of the people of America were involved in the Westward Expansion of the United States. Westward Expansion was led by all of the Presidents of the United States during this period. Treaties were enacted by the politicians and the diplomats. The wars were waged by the military and U.S. citizens. Henry Clay introduced the "American System" that included a subsidized transportation infrastructure of new roads and canals.  The inventors during the period of the Industrial Revolution made new transportation systems such as the railroads possible. Entrepreneurs invested in the systems. But it was the people of America who built the systems making it possible for Westward Expansion to become viable and help the pioneers and settlers to head west and build new lives in new lands.

Reasons for Westward Expansion
Why was westward expansion important and what were the reasons for Westward Expansion? There was a whole continent to explore that offered a range of different climates, geographical features, vegetation, animals and raw materials. The potential of the new resources and the massive areas of land were waiting for American settlers to discover, some land was almost free. Westward Expansion offered people the opportunity to find new homes and work, to experience adventure, to explore possibilities, to become rich, to find gold or silver, to escape from the constraints of civilization and to make a new start. In other words Westward Expansion enabled people to live the 'American Dream'. Americans were motivated to move west for a whole variety of practical reasons but they were inspired by the belief that the Manifest Destiny of the United States was God's will.

Westward Expansion and Manifest Destiny for kids
notion of the "Manifest Destiny" of the United States was that the occupation the whole continent of North America, was a divine right of the American people. Manifest Destiny was based on the belief of cultural and racial superiority over other nations and the obligation to bring enlightenment and civilization to other races like the Native American Indians. The belief in the Manifest Destiny of the United States justified the darker side of Westward Expansion.

Westward Expansion Timeline and Facts for kids
The history of Westward Expansion of the United States is told in a factual timeline sequence consisting of a series of short facts providing a simple method of relating the relevant, significant events that lead to the Westward Expansion of the United States of America. All of the events are explained with access to additional articles containing detailed facts and information about each of these important historical events that aided Westward Expansion in the United States.

1783: The War of Independence (1775–1783) ends, and the U.S. acquires the  first 13 colonies in the east by the 1783 Treaty of Paris that establishes the first U.S. boundaries

1800: The towns and cities increased and methods of transport included the stagecoach - Cities and Travel

1803: The Louisiana Purchase of land from France extends US lands from the Mississippi River to the Rocky Mountains between the Canadian border and the Gulf of Mexico

1804: The Lewis and Clark Expedition explores and map the US lands bought in the 1803 Louisiana Purchase

1807: The invention of steam engines result in Steamboats appearing on western rivers

1811: The Construction of the Cumberland Road began in Maryland and stretched 600 miles into the Northwest Territory.

1812: The era of road building introduced the system of Turnpikes (Toll Roads)

1812: The War of 1812 resulted in the people of America thinking of itself as a unified and strong nation increasing the urge for Westward Expansion

1813: The Creek War (1813–1814) resulted  in the vast cession of Creek lands in Alabama and Georgia

1817:The economic plan introduced by Henry Clay, called the American System, was aimed at creating a subsidized transportation infrastructure of new roads and canals

1817: Construction of the Erie Canal begins that stretched for 363 miles allowing the passage of boats inland carrying produce and passengers from the Atlantic Ocean to Lake Erie

1818: The 1818 Convention and Treaty with the British establishes the border with Canada at the 49th Parallel

1819: The Florida Treaty, aka the Adams Onis Treaty, set the boundary between the US and New Spain (now Mexico)

1820: The 1820 Land Act led to the future confiscation of lands from Native Americans and lower cost land for settlers in the west

1821: The 900 mile trade route, the Santa Fe Trail, opens from Independence, Missouri, to Santa Fe (now New Mexico).

1823: The Monroe Doctrine stated that attempts by European nations to colonize land in North or South America, would be viewed as acts of aggression

1824: The 1824 General Survey Act authorized the president to have surveys made of important transportation routes

1828: The Railroads: The 'Stourbridge Lion' was the first operational locomotive on an American railroad

1830: The 1830 Indian Removal Act led to the forced migration of approximately 60,000 Native Americans

1830: Between 1830 to 1840 the forced migration included the terrible journey of the Creek nation on the infamous Trail of Tears

1832: The first Horsecar line is built in Lower Manhattan

1843: The first Important migration of settlers traveled in Wagon Trains along the 2000 mile Oregon Trail

1844: The First Telegraph line is established and Morse Code is sent by Samuel Morse from Washington to Baltimore

1845: Congress passed Texas Annexation, a "Joint Resolution for Annexing Texas to the United States"

1845: 1845: John O’Sullivan initiates the phrase 'Manifest Destiny'

1846: The Mexican-American War begins, also known as the Invasion of Mexico

1846: The Bear Flag Revolt against Mexico in Alta California

1846: 1846: The Oregon Treaty settled the lands south of the 49th parallel as a US possession

1846: Brigham Young leads 5,000 Mormons to Utah after experiencing religious persecution

1848: The  Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo by which Mexico ceded Upper California and New Mexico to the United States that covered 525,000 square miles for a payment of $15,000,000

1848: The California Gold Rush (1848–1855) started when gold was discovered at Sutter's Lumber Mill in Coloma, California

1849: The first conflicts of the Apache Wars (1849 -1924) erupted in the Southwest

1853: The Gadsden Purchase acquires territory in  Arizona and New Mexico

1854: The Sioux Wars (1854 - 1890) led by Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull break out in South Dakota, Minnesota and Wyoming

1854: The Treaty of Kanagawa with Japan extended the belief of Manifest Destiny and began a tradition of "Gunboat diplomacy".

1854: The Ostend Manifesto planned for the annexation of Cuba from Spain

1860: The short lived Pony Express was established as the most direct means of east–west communication before the telegraph was established

1862:  The Homestead Act of 1862 encouraged 600,000 families to travel westwards by giving them land (usually 160 acres) almost free

1867: Purchase of Alaska: Alaska was purchased from Russia for $7.2 million

1869: The Transcontinental Railroad was completed joining the eastern and western parts of the United States

1872: The Manifest Destiny Painting called American Progress "Spirit of the Frontier" was painted  by John Gast

1879: The Exodusters and the mass migration of African Americans to Kansas

1898: Queen Liliuokalani was deposed leading to the Hawaii.

1912: Arizona was admitted to the Union as the last of the 48 contiguous (adjoining) states.

US American History
1841-1850: Westward Expansion

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