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See the fact file below for more information on the Westward expansion or alternatively, you can download our comprehensive worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
- 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 American tribes.
- During the westward expansion, Native American Indian tribes that originally inhabited the land were removed and displaced in reserves.
- In 1820, the Land Act confiscated land from the Native American Indian tribes and sold it to settlers from the east at lower 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 Indians from their ancestral lands. 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, the 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 ceeding 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 free land 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 fired 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 “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 bundle includes 11 ready-to-use Westward Expansion worksheets that are perfect for students to learn about The Westward Expansion which started when former U.S President Thomas Jefferson spearheaded the Louisiana Purchase, between the French government and the newly established United States, for $15 million.
This download includes the following worksheets:
- Westward Expansion Facts
- The Original Thirteen Colonies
- Mapping the West
- Native American Indian Tribes
- 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, January 11, 2018
Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.