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Table of Contents
The Westward Expansion started when U.S. President Thomas Jefferson spearheaded the Louisiana Purchase between the French government and the newly established United States for $15 million. By 1840, 7 million Americans had moved and acquired land in the west. The expansion ended in 1912 when Arizona was admitted to the Union.
See the fact file below for more information on the Westward Expansion or alternatively, you can download our 22-page Westward Expansion worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
The Westward Expansion Facts
- The Northwest territories of the American colony were first populated by more than 250,000 colonists during the 1700s.
- In 1783, the Treaty of Paris was signed, which established the first American boundaries between the 13 colonies.
- By 1803, President Thomas Jefferson purchased the vast land west of the Mississippi River from France. Explorers Lewis and Clark were commissioned to explore the land that almost doubled the size of the United States.
- President Thomas Jefferson believed that Americans should explore, discover and experience all the opportunities that the new land could offer. Most Americans believed that the expansion and migration to the west was their Manifest Destiny as part of God’s will.
- Some believed that the notion of a Manifest Destiny was the dark side of the expansion since it suggested superiority of the colonists over the Native Americans.
- During the westward expansion, Native American nations that originally inhabited the land were removed and displaced to reserves.
- In 1820, the Land Act confiscated land from the Native Americans and sold it to settlers from the east at low prices.
- New roads, the railroad system and lines of communication developed as people from the east moved to the newly acquired land.
- The Cumberland Road construction began in 1811. It connects Maryland to the northwest territories.
- After a year, the system of Turnpikes was introduced.
- By 1817, the Erie Canal was constructed for boats carrying goods and passengers.
- The Santa Fe Trail opened in 1821, which opened up trade opportunities between Missouri and Santa Fe (New Mexico).
- The 1830 Indian Removal Act led to the removal of approximately 60,000 Native Americans from their ancestral land. Their terrible journey is now known as the Trail of Tears.
- Further migration from east to west happened when the Oregon Trail was opened in 1843. Settlers travelled using wagon trains.
- As part of the expansion, Congress passed the joint resolution of annexing Texas. Texas originally belonged to the Mexican territory. As a result, the invasion of Mexico happened a year later. This is known as the American-Mexican War.
- In order to end the war, the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was signed with Mexico ceding Upper California and New Mexico to the United States for the amount of $15 million.
- In 1848, gold was discovered at Sutter’s Lumber Mill in Coloma, California. It led to the California Gold Rush that lasted until 1855.
- By 1853, the Gadsden Purchase added 30,000 square miles of former Mexican territory to the United States.
- Before the establishment of telegraph, the Pony Express became the means of direct communication between the east and west in 1860.
- In order to encourage more settlers, the Homestead Act was signed in 1862 by President Abraham Lincoln. It gave 160 acres of land free to families from the east upon migration. As a result, almost 600,000 families were encouraged to travel westward.
- In 1867, Alaska was purchased from Russia for $7.2 million. Two years later, the first transcontinental railroad connecting the eastern and western parts of the United States was finished.
- Hawaii was annexed in 1898 and by 1912 Arizona became the last of the adjoining states.
- As the United States continued to expand, the issue regarding slavery became more complicated. The Missouri Compromise of 1820 demarcated slavery north of the southern boundary of Missouri.
- As the southern states’ cotton economy grew, they decided to expand slavery across the newly acquired territories.
- Tension between slave and free states flared up in 1854 during the Kansas-Nebraska Act. In 1855, pro-slavery Missourians moved to Kansas to fraudulently vote in favor of slavery. The violent encounter between the anti- and pro-slavery advocates led to and event known as “Bleeding Kansas.”
- Following the land expansion, the American Civil War broke out in 1861.
- The era of the wild west started after the Civil War. It lasted for 30 years, from 1865 until 1895. Untamed territories in the west were run by outlaws that were known for their disorderly and unruly behavior. There was little governance as people moved to the west and so it was the local sheriff’s duty to keep peace and security. During this time, the infamous Jesse James and Wild Bill Hickok became known as gunslingers.
Westward Expansion Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about Westward Expansion across 22 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Westward Expansion worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the Westward Expansion started when U.S. President Thomas Jefferson spearheaded the Louisiana Purchase between the French government and the newly established United States for $15 million. By 1840, 7 million Americans had moved and acquired land in the west. The expansion ended in 1912 when Arizona was admitted to the Union.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Westward Expansion Facts
- The Original Thirteen Colonies
- Mapping the West
- Native American Nations
- Transportation and Communication
- California Gold Rush
- Pros and Cons of Expansion
- U.S. Presidents
- Manifest Destiny
- Wild Wild West
- United States Today
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Link will appear as Westward Expansion Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, February 22, 2019
Use With Any Curriculum
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