An Era of Expansion
Chapter 13: Westward Expansion
I. Oregon Fever
A. Oregon Country: A Varied Land
1. By the 1820s, white settlers occupied much of the land between the Appalachians and the Mississippi River. Families in search of good farmland continued to move west.
a) Few settled on the Great Plains between the Mississippi and the Rockies. They were drawn to lands in the Far West.
2. Oregon Country was the huge area beyond the Rockies. Today, this land includes Oregon, Washington Idaho, and parts of Wyoming, Montana, and Canada.
B. Competing Claims
1. In the early 1800s, four countries had competing claims to Oregon.
a) They were the United States, Great Britain, Spain, and Russia.
2. In 1818, the United States and Britain reached an agreement. The two countries would occupy Oregon jointly.
a) Citizens of each nation would have equal rights in Oregon.
b) Spain and Russia had few settlers in the area and agreed to drop their claims.
C. Fur Trappers in the Far West
1. At first, the only people who settled Oregon country were a few hardy trappers.
a) Mountain Men - They hiked through the forests, trapping animals and living off of the land.
b)By the late 1830s, the fur trade was dying out. Animals had grown scarce. Beaver hats were no longer in style.
D. Wagon Trains West
1. Throughout the 1840s, "Oregon Fever" broke out.
a) Beginning in 1843, wagon trains left every spring for Oregon following the Oregon Trail.
2. Leaving from Independence. Families planning to go west met at Independence, Missouri, in the early spring.
a) When enough families had gathered, they formed a wagon train. Each group elected leaders to make decisions along the way.
b) Oregon bound pioneers hurried to leave Independence in May. Timing was important. Travelers had to reach Oregon by early October, before it began to snow. This meant that pioneers had to cover 2,000 miles on foot in five months!
3. The long trek west held many dangers.
a) During spring rains, travelers risked their lives floating wagons across swollen rivers.
b) In summer, they faced blistering heat on the treeless plains.
c) Early snowstorms often blocked passes through the mountains.
d) The biggest threat was sickness. Cholera and other diseases could wipe out whole wagon trains.
4. As they moved west toward the Rockies, pioneers often saw Indians.
a) The Indians seldom attacked the whites.
b) Many Native Americans traded with the wagon trains.
c) Hungry pioneers were grateful for food the Indians sold.
5. Despite the many hardships, more than 50,000 people reached Oregon between 1840 and 1860.
a) Their wagon wheels cut so deeply into the plains that the ruts can still be seen today.
b) By the 1840s, Americans greatly outnumbered the British in parts Of Oregon.
c) Many Americans began to feel that Oregon should belong to the United States alone.
II. A Country Called Texas
A. Americans in Mexican Texas
1. Since the early 1800s, American farmers had looked eagerly at the vast region called Texas. Then in 1821, Spain gave Moses Austin a land grant in Texas. Austin died before he could set up a colony.
a) His son Stephen took over the project.
b) Meanwhile, Mexico had won its independence from Spain.
c) The new nation agreed to let Stephen Austin lead settlers into Texas.
d) Mexico hoped that the Americans would help develop the area and control Indian attacks.
2. Mexico gave Stephen Austin and each settler a large grant of land.
a) In return, the settlers agreed to become citizens of Mexico, obey its laws, and worship in the Roman Catholic Church.
b) By 1830, about 20,000 Americans had resettled in Texas.
B. Mexico Tightens Its Laws
1. Americans who later flooded into Texas felt no loyalty to Mexico.
a) They spoke only a few words of Spanish, the official language of Mexico.
b) Most of the Americans were Protestants.
2. Conflict soon erupted between the newcomers and the Mexican government.
a) In 1830, Mexico passed a law forbidding any more Americans to move to Texas.
b) Mexico feared that the Americans wanted to make Texas part of the United States.
c) The United States had tried to buy Texas in 1826 and again in 1829.
3. Mexico also decided to make Texans obey Mexican laws that they had ignored for years.
a) One law banned slavery in Texas.
b) Another required Texans to worship in the Catholic Church.
c) Texans resented the laws and the Mexican troops who came north to enforce them.
4. 1833 - General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna came to power in Mexico.
a) Santa Anna, some said, intended to drive all Americans out of Texas.
C. Texans Take Action
1. Americans in Texas felt that the time had come for action. In this, they had the support of many Tejanos, Mexicans who lived in Texas.
a) The Tejanos did not necessarily want independence from Mexico. But they hated General Santa Anna, who ruled as a military dictator.
2. Fighting begins.
a) October 1835 - Texans in the town of Gonzales defeated the Mexicans, forcing them to withdraw.
b) Inspired by the victory, Stephen Austin and other Texans aimed to "see Texas forever free from Mexican domination."
c) Two months later, Texans stormed and took San Antonio.
d) Santa Anna was furious. He marched north with a large army.
3. Declaring independence- While Santa Anna massed his troops, Texans declared their independence from Mexico on March 2, 1836.
a) They set up as a new nation called the Republic of Texas and appointed Sam Houston as commander of their army.
b) Free blacks, slaves, and Tejanos, as well as other people of many nationalities, joined to fight for Texan independence.
4. By the time Santa Anna arrived in San Antonio, fewer than 200 Texans remained as defenders.
a) Despite the odds against them, the Texans refused to give up. Instead, they retired to an old Spanish mission called the Alamo.
D. Remember the Alamo!
1. The Spanish had built the Alamo in the mid 1700s.
a) It was like a small fort, surrounded by walls 12 feet high and 3 feet thick.
2. Texan defenders who gathered in the Alamo in the winter of 1835 1836 were not well prepared.
a) Supplies of ammunition and medicine were low.
b) Food consisted of some beef and corn, and access to water was limited.
c) Many of the men had only a blanket and a single flannel shirt.
d) Of most concern was the fact that there were only 187 Texans in the Alamo. This was not enough to defend it against 6,000 Mexican troops.
3. William Travis, hardly more than a boy, commanded the Texans.
a) Volunteers inside the mission included the famous frontiersmen Jim Bowie and Davy Crockett.
4. On February 23, 1836, Santa Anna's army arrived.
a) The first shots from the Alamo were rapid and deadly and took the Mexicans by surprise. Commander Travis had four rifles placed by each man's side. In that way, a Texan could fire three or four shots," in the time it took a Mexican to fire one.
5. Still, Travis knew that unless he received help, he and his men were doomed. On February 24, he sent a Texan through the Mexican lines with a message. It was addressed "to the People of Texas and all the Americans in the World":
"Fellow Citizens and Compatriots. I am besieged by a thousand or more of the Mexicans under Santa Anna. I have sustained a continual bombardment for 24 hours and have not lost a man. The enemy have demanded a surrender.... I have answered the demand with a cannon shot and our flag still waves proudly from the walls.
I shall never surrender or retreat.
I call on you in the name of Liberty,' of patriotism, and of everything dear to the American character to come to our aid with all dispatch. The enemy are receiving reinforcements daily.... If this call is neglected, I am determined to sustain myself as long as possible & die like a soldier who never forgets what is due to his own honor or that of his country. Victory or Death!
W. Barret Travis"
6. For 12 days the Mexicans bombarded the Alamo. Then, at dawn on March 6, 1836, Mexican cannon fire broke through the Alamo walls.
a) Thousands of Mexican soldiers poured into the mission. When the bodies were counted, 183 Texans and almost 1,500 Mexicans lay dead.
b) The five Texan survivors, including Davy Crockett, were promptly executed at Santa Anna's order.
7. The slaughter at the Alamo angered Texans and set off cries for revenge. The fury of the Texans grew even stronger three weeks later, when Mexicans killed several hundred Texan soldiers at Goliad after they had surrendered.
a) Volunteers flooded into Sam Houston's army.
b) Men from the United States also raced south to help the Texan cause.
E. Texan Independence
1. While the Mexicans were busy at the Alamo, Sam Houston organized his army. Six weeks later, on April 21, 1836, he attacked Santa Anna and his troops at the Battle of San Jacinto.
a) With cries of "Remember the Alamo!" the Texans charged the surprised Mexicans.
b) The fighting lasted only 18 minutes.
c) Although they were outnumbered, Texans killed 630 Mexicans and captured 700 more.
2. The next day they captured Santa Anna himself.
a) He was forced to sign a treaty granting Texas its independence.
F. The Lone Star Republic
1. In battle, Texans carried a flag with a single white star. After winning independence they nicknamed their nation the Lone Star Republic.
a) They drew up a constitution.
b) Elected Sam Houston as President.
2. The new country faced huge Problems.
a) Mexico refused to accept the treaty signed by Santa Anna.
b) Texas was nearly bankrupt.
3. Most Texans thought that the best way to solve both problems was for Texas to become part of the United States.
a) In the United States, Americans were divided about whether to annex Texas.
b) To annex means to add on.
c) Most white southerners favored the idea.
d) Knowing that many Texans owned slaves, northerners did not want to allow Texas to join the Union.
e) President Andrew Jackson also worried that annexing Texas would lead to war with Mexico. As a result, the United States refused to annex Texas.
III. Manifest Destiny
A. New Mexico Territory
1. The entire Southwest belonged to Mexico in the 1840s. This huge region was called New Mexico Territory.
a) It included most of the present day states of Arizona and New Mexico, all of Nevada and Utah, and parts of Colorado.
2. The explorer Juan de Onate claimed the territory of New Mexico for Spain in 1598. In the early 1600s, the Spanish built Santa Fe as the capital of the territory.
a) Santa Fe grew into a busy trading town.
b) Spain refused to let Americans settle in New Mexico.
c) Only after Mexico won its independence in 1821 were Americans welcome in Santa Fe.
3. William Becknell, a merchant and adventurer, was the first American to head for Santa Fe.
a) 1821- Becknell led a group of traders on the long trip from Franklin, Missouri, across the plains. When they reached Santa Fe, they found Mexicans eager to buy their goods.
b) Other Americans soon followed Becknell's route. It became known as the Santa Fe Trail.
B. Early Years in California
1. Spanish soldiers and priests built the first European settlements in California.
a) 1769- Captain Gaspar de Portold led a group of soldiers and missionaries up the Pacific coast.
2. The chief missionary was Father Junipero Serra.
a) He built his first mission at San Diego.
b) He went on to build 20 other missions along the California coast. Each mission claimed the surrounding land and soon took care of all its own needs.
c) Spanish soldiers built forts near the missions.
3. California Indians lived in small, scattered groups. They were generally peaceful people.
a) They did not offer much resistance to soldiers who forced them to work for the missions.
b) Native Americans herded sheep and cattle and raised crops for the missions. In return they lived at the missions and learned about the Catholic religion.
c) Mission life was hard for Native Americans. Thousands died from overwork and diseases.
C. Expansion: A Right and a Duty
1. Many Americans saw the culture and the democratic government of the United States as the best in the world. They believed that the United States had the right and the duty to spread its rule all the way to the Pacific Ocean.
a) In the 1840s, a New York newspaper coined a phrase for this belief. The phrase was Manifest Destiny.
b) Americans who believed in Manifest Destiny thought that the United States was clearly meant to expand to the Pacific.
2. Election of 1844- Manifest Destiny played an important part in the election of 1844.
a) The Whigs nominated Henry Clay for President.
b) The Democrats chose a little known man named James K. Polk.
c) Voters soon came to know Polk as the candidate who favored expansion. Polk demanded that Texas and Oregon be added to the United States.
3. Polk made Oregon a special campaign issue. He insisted on the whole region for the United States all the way to its northern border at latitude 54˚40'N.
"Fifty four forty or fight!"
cried the Democrats.
a) On Election Day, Americans showed that they favored expansion by electing Polk President.
IV. The Mexican War
A. Annexing Texas
1. In 1844, Sam Houston, the president of Texas, signed a treaty of annexation with the United States.
a) The Senate refused to ratify the treaty.
b) Senators feared that it would cause a war with Mexico.
c) To persuade Americans to annex Texas, Houston pretended that Texas might become an ally of Britain.
d) In 1845, Congress passed a joint resolution admitting Texas to the Union.
2. Annexing Texas led at once to a dispute with Mexico.
a) Texas claimed that its southern border was the Rio Grande.
b) Mexico argued that it was the Nueces River, some 200 miles north of the Rio Grande.
B. Dividing Oregon
1. Despite his expansionist beliefs, President Polk did not really want a war with Britain. In 1846, he agreed to a compromise.
a) Oregon was divided at latitude 49O N.
b) Britain got the lands north of the line, and the United States got the lands south of the line.
c) The United States named its portion the Oregon Territory.
d) The states of Oregon (1859), Washington (1889), and Idaho (1890) were later carved out of the Oregon Territory.
C. War with Mexico
1. Mexico had accepted the independence of Texas. Now, the annexation of Texas made Mexicans furious.
a) They also were concerned that the example set by Texas would encourage Americans in California and New Mexico to rebel.
2. Americans, in turn, were angry with Mexico. President Polk offered to pay Mexico $30 million for California and New Mexico.
a) Mexico refused the offer.
b) Many Americans felt that Mexico stood in the way of Manifest Destiny.
3. Sparking the war- In January 1846, Polk ordered General Zachary Taylor to cross the Nueces River and set up posts along the Rio Grande. Polk knew that Mexico claimed this land and that the move might spark a war.
a) In April 1846, Mexican troops crossed the Rio Grande and fought briefly with the Americans. Soldiers on both sides were killed.
4. President Polk claimed that Mexico had "shed American blood upon the American soil." At his urging, Congress declared war on Mexico.
a) Americans were divided over the war.
b) Many people in the South and West wanted more land and so were eager to fight.
c) Northerners opposed the war. They saw it as a southern plot to add, slave states to the Union.
d) Still, many Americans joined the war effort.
e) When the call for recruits went out, the response was overwhelming, especially in the South and West.
5. General Zachary Taylor crossed the Rio Grande into northern Mexico. There, he won several battles against the Mexican army.
a) In February 1847, he defeated General Santa Anna at the Battle of Buena Vista.
b) Meanwhile, General Winfield Scott landed another American army at the Mexican port of Veracruz.
c) After a long battle, the Americans took the city.
6. Rebellion in California - A third army, led by General Stephen Kearny, captured Santa Fe without firing a shot.
a) After several battles, he took control of southern California early in 1847.
7. Americans in northern California had risen up against Mexican rule even before hearing of the Mexican War.
a) Led by John Fremont, the rebels declared California an independent republic on June 14, 1846.
b) They called their new nation the Bear Flag Republic.
c) Later in the war, Fremont joined forces with the United States Army.
D. A Nation's Dream Comes True
1. By 1847, the United States controlled all of New Mexico and California.
a) Meanwhile, General Scott had reached the outskirts of the Mexican capital, Mexico City. There his troops faced a fierce battle.
b) Young Mexican soldiers made a heroic last stand at Chapultepec, a fort just outside Mexico City.
c) Like the Texans who died at the Alamo, the Mexicans at Chapultepec fought to the last man. Today, Mexicans honor these young men as heroes.
2. With the American army in Mexico City, the Mexican government had no choice but to make peace. In 1848, Mexico signed the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo
a) Mexico was forced to cede, or give, all of California and New Mexico to the United States.
b) These lands were called the Mexican Cession
c) In return for these lands, the United States paid Mexico $15 million. Americans also agreed to respect the rights of Spanish speaking people in the Mexican Cession.
3. A few years after the Mexican War, the United States completed its expansion across the continent.
a) 1853- it agreed to pay Mexico $10 million for 1 strip of land in present day Arizona and New Mexico.
b) The land was called the Gadsden Purchase.
E. A Rich Heritage
1. Texas, New Mexico, and California added vast new lands to the United States.
2. A mix of cultures-
a) English speaking settlers poured into the Southwest bringing their own culture with them, including their ideas about democratic government.
b) Mexican Americans taught newcomers how to irrigate the soil.
c) They also showed them how to mine silver and other minerals.
d) Many Spanish and Indian words became part of the English language. Among these words were stampede, buffalo, soda, and tornado.
IV. Surge to the Pacific
A. Mormons Seek Refuge in Utah
1. The largest group of settlers to move into the Mexican Cession were the Mormons.
a) Mormons belonged to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints. The church was founded by Joseph Smith in 1830.
2. Smith's teachings angered many non Mormons.
a) For example, Mormons at first believed that property should be owned in common.
b) Smith also said that a man could have more than one wife.
c) Angry neighbors forced the Mormons to leave New York for Ohio. From Ohio, they were forced to move to Missouri and from there to Illinois.
d) In the 1840s, the Mormons built a community called Nauvoo, in Illinois.
3. In 1844, an angry mob killed Joseph Smith.
a) The Mormons chose Brigham Young as their new leader.
b) Brigham Young realized that the Mormons needed a home where they would be safe. He had read about a valley between the Rocky Mountains and the Great Salt Lake in Utah. Young decided that the isolated valley would make a good home for the Mormons.
4. In Utah, the Mormons had to survive in a harsh desert climate.
a) Young planned an irrigation system to bring water to farms.
b) He also drew up plans for a large city, called Salt Lake City, to be built in the desert.
5. Congress recognized Brigham Young as governor of the Utah Territory in 1850.
B. Gold in California!
1. In 1848, James Marshall was helping John Sutter build a sawmill on the American River, north of Sacramento, California. On the morning of January 24, Marshall set out to inspect a ditch his crew was digging. He later told a friend what he saw that day:
"It was a clear, cold morning; I shall never forget that morning. As I was taking my usual walk.... my eye was caught with the glimpse of something shining in the bottom of the ditch. There was about a foot of water running then. I reached my hand down and picked it up; it made my heart thump, for I was certain it was gold. "
2. As news spread, thousands of Americans caught gold fever. People in Europe and South America joined the rush as well.
a) forty niners - more than 80,000 people made the long journey to California in 1849.
3. The first miners needed little skill. Because the gold was near the surface of the earth, they could dig it out with knives. Later, the miners found a better way.
a) They loaded sand and gravel from the riverbed into a washing pan. Then, they held the pan under water and swirled it gently. The water washed away lighter gravel leaving the heavier gold in the pan. This process was known as "panning for gold."
b) Most went broke trying to make their fortunes. Although many miners left the gold fields, they stayed in California.
4. The Gold Rush brought big Changes to life in California. Almost overnight, San Francisco grew from a sleepy town to a bustling city.
a) Greed turned some forty niners into criminals.
b) Murders and robberies plagued many mining camps.
c) To fight crime, miners formed vigilance committees.
d) Vigilantes, self appointed law enforcers, dealt out punishment even though they had no legal power to do so.
e) Sometimes an accused criminal was lynched, or hanged without a legal trial.
5. Californians realized they needed a government to stop the lawlessness.
a) 1849 -they drafted a state constitution.
b) They then asked to be admitted to the Union.
c) Their request caused an uproar in the United States. Americans wondered whether or not the new state would allow slavery. After a heated debate, California was admitted to the Union in 1850 as a free state.
C. California's Unique Culture
1. Most mining camps included a mix of peoples. One visitor to a mining town met runaway slaves from the South, Native Americans, and New Englanders. There were also people from Hawaii, China, Peru, Chile, France, Germany, Italy, Ireland, and Australia.
2. During the wild days of the Gold Rush, they often ignored the rights of other Californians.
a) Many Native Americans were driven off their lands and later died of starvation or diseases. Others were murdered.
b) When the Chinese staked claims in the gold fields, white miners often drove them off.
3. Free blacks, like other forty niners, rushed to the California gold fields hoping to strike it rich.
a) By the 1850s California had the richest African American population of any state.
b) Yet African Americans were also denied certain rights.
c) For example, California law denied blacks and other minorities the right to testify against whites in court. After a long struggle blacks gained this right in 1863.