Westward Expansion Essay

Published: 2021-06-29 02:07:40
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The Westward Expansion Essay has often been regarded as the central theme ofAmerican history, down to the end of the19th century and as the main factor inthe shaping of American history. As Frederick Jackson Turner says, the greatestforce or influence in shaping American democracy and society had been that therewas so much free land in America and this profoundly affected American society. Motives After the revolution, the winning of independence opened up the Westerncountry and was hence followed by a steady flow of settlers to the Mississippivalley.
By 1840, 10 new western states had been added to the Federal union. Thefrontier line ran through Iowa, Missouri and Arkansas on the western side of theriver. All parts of the valley except Wisconsin and Minnesota were wellpopulated. Thus a whole new section had been colonized with lasting effects onthe American institutions, ideals and ways of living. The far west was the landof high mountains, deserts, strange rock formations, brilliant colors andimmense distance.
Fur trade with Europe had now become a lucrative business andthe fur traders became the pathfinders for the settlers. Migration was nowpossible by the discovery of paths over which ox-driven carts could be driventhrough seeking mountains and across the western desert. People wanted to moveaway from the overcrowded cities and this led to the migration into theuninhabited lands. Increased transportation like roads, railroads and canals andtheir construction created a demand for cheap labor making it easier for peopleto get jobs now, in contrast with the cities where there was unemployment.
Thepioneer movement for 70 years after the revolution roughly represented the formof 3 parallel streams, flowing westwards from New England, Virginia and SouthCarolina. The first pioneer groups tended to move directly westward. Thus thenew Englanders migrated into western New York and along the shores of the greatlakes, Virginians into Kentucky and then into Missouri and the South Caroliniansand Georgians into the gulf territories. Throughout the settlement of theMississippi valley, most pioneers did not travel long distances and as aterritory had been occupied, families would move into the adjacent one. Therewere boom periods of great activity, during which million acres of land weresold, alternated with depression periods during which there was little furtherexpansion of the frontier and many disappointed pioneers even backtracked fromthe west to the east.
When the treaty of Paris was signed in 1783, the Americanshad thought that they had enough land between the Atlantic coast and theMississippi river. Yet in 1803, by the Louisiana Purchase, the area of theUnited States doubled and not long after, it was augmented by thehalf-purchase-half-conquest of Florida. By the end of 1820, as many as 6 stateswere created, east of Mississippi-Indiana (1816), Mississippi (1817), Alabama(1819), Maine (1820) and Missouri (1821). By the 1830s, the frontier line hadbeen carried to Iowa, Missouri and Arkansas-about one-third of the way acrossthe continent. By the 1840s, the expansionist policy, typified by the ManifestDestiny doctrine, became very strong with many sections willing to go to war toacquire more land. Slavery became a bone of contention between the Northern andsouthern states with the control of the senate in question.
The South wantedexpansion to increase slave states, the North to keep the balance with freestates and the West wanting expansion to increase their land. The antagonismbetween the North and the South sees the beginnings of sectionalism leading tothe civil war later. The spirit of equality becomes a banner with which theexpansionist policy was proclaimed. Phases Of Development Before the 1830s, mostsections of the west passed through the same phases of development in a regularorder. The first white men to usually enter a new area were the hunters and furtrappers, who had extraordinary skills to open up a new path through wilderness,finding food for themselves and dealing with the Indians.
These men explored thecountry and brought news of its resources back to the east. In many regions, thesecond phase was cattle ranching while some also passed through the miningphase. Parts of Missouri and Wisconsin, for example were settled by lead miners. Behind the cattle ranchers or miners came the first farmers, who were oftensquatters with no legal title to land. They were frequently restless and wereimpatient of the restrictions of civilised society, and were not interested inmaking permanent houses.
Many of them, had a .

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