Westward Expansion



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Westward Expansion
Lure of Oregon

  • By the 1820s white settlers had occupied much of the land east of the Mississippi River.

  • The plains were considered too dry, so farmers and settlers began heading to the far west

Oregon Territory

  • Americans knew about the enormous territory of Oregon west of the Rocky Mountains

  • The region included the present day areas of Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, and parts of Canada

  • The Geography of Oregon is varied. Along the Pacific coast, the soil is fertile. Temperatures are mild year round and rainfall is plentiful. Settlers found fine farmland.

  • Farther inland, dense forests are found. Mountain men and fur trappers found plenty of game and fur bearing animals.


  • The Mountain Men and hunters were the first whites in the area.

Claims to Oregon



  • In the early 1800s, four countries claimed Oregon: Russia, Spain, Britain, and the United States.

  • In 1818, the U.S. and Britain agree to jointly occupy Oregon

  • As Oregon fever spread, pioneers clogged the trails west.

  • Beginning in 1843, wagon trains left every spring for Oregon. Families planning to go west would meet at Independence Missouri.

  • They had to leave by early May

Journey West



  • Timing was important. They needed to be in Oregon before the heavy snowfalls in the mountains.

  • This meant that they had to cover 2,000 miles in 5 months. In the 1840s, traveling 15 miles a day was making good time

  • Between 1840 and 1860 more than 50,000 people had reached Oregon

Americans in Texas




  • Spain had given Moses Austin a land grant in order to bring settlers into Texas.

  • After his death, his son, Stephen F. Austin took over the land grant

  • Mexico had won its Independence from Spain, so Stephen Austin had to deal with the new Mexican government.

  • Mexico wanted the settlers to develop the land and handle the Native Americans on the frontier

  • Starting in 1821, Austin brought in 300 families known as “The Old Three Hundred”

  • Many of the Old 300 came from the South and started cotton plantations in Texas

  • Many had brought the institution of slavery with them

  • By 1830, about 20,000 Americans lived in Texas

Conflict between Texans and the Mexican Government






  • One law required all Texans to be Catholic

  • Another law banned slavery in Texas

  • Then Santa Anna threw out the Constitution of 1824

Texans Take Action



  • These laws angered the Texans and when the Mexican government sent in troops to enforce the laws, tension between the Mexican government and the Texans increased

  • With Santa Anna in power in Mexico, Americans living in Texas felt it was time to take action

Four Major Occurrences in the Texas Revolution



Texas Annexation



  • Texas became an independent country in September of 1836

  • Sam Houston became the Republic’s first President and the Texas Constitution closely resembled the American Constitution

  • The new Republic faced many problems

  • The Mexican government till refused to recognize the treaty that Santa Anna signed

  • Mexicans still believed Texas was a part of Mexico

  • Texas was nearly bankrupt

  • Comanche and other Indian tribes threatened small Texas communities

  • Many people believed that the best way to solve Texas’s problems would be annexation by the United States

  • The annexation of Texas became the argument between the North and South with slavery being the main issue

  • Northerners were opposed to the idea, but Southerners were in favor of annexation

  • Northerners feared that Texas would be admitted into the Union as a slave state

  • There were also concerns that annexation of Texas could lead to conflict with Mexico



  • Because of the controversy, Congress refused to annex Texas.

  • For the next 9 years, Texas worked to get immigrants from the United States to come to Texas. They even offered free land

  • During the Panic of 1837, thousands of Americans moved to Texas.

  • Immigrants from Germany and Switzerland also moved to Texas

  • By 1840, about 140,000 people lived in Texas. Most were American

New Mexico Territory



  • In the Early 1840s, most of the Southwest was known as the New Mexico Territory.

  • This included present day Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, and parts of Colorado

Manifest Destiny



  • In the mid-1840s, only about 700 people lived in California.

  • Every year, however, more and more Americans began moving west.

  • On several occasions the American government offered to buy California from the Mexican government.



  • The United States was eager to get control of the Pacific ports of San Francisco and San Diego

  • There were other reasons for wanting to obtain California

  • Many Americans felt that since the American culture was superior to others and that democracy was the best form of government, then it was the duty of the United States to spread its culture across the entire continent of North America all the way to the Pacific Ocean

  • This belief was called Manifest Destiny

  • Manifest means clear or obvious

  • Destiny means something that is sure to happen

  • Manifest Destiny did have a negative side

  • Many Americans used the belief to justify taking land from cultures whom they considered inferior to the American culture (Mexican and Native American)

Mexican War



  • The United States finally annexed Texas

  • This enraged Mexico and now the Mexicans became worried about California



  • Many Americans felt that Mexico’s refusal to sell California stood in the way of Manifest Destiny

  • A border dispute between the United States and Mexico between the Nueces River and the Rio Grande erupted when Mexican soldiers crossed the Rio Grande and clashed with American soldiers.

  • The President of the United States at the time James Polk urged Congress to declare war on Mexico

  • Congress did declare war

  • Many Americans did not approve of this war. They thought it was a plot to gain more slave states

  • The famous writer Henry David Thoreau refused to pay his taxes as a protest to the war

  • For this act of Civil Disobedience, we was arrested and put in jail

  • Still many more Americans supported the war. (mostly from the South)

  • General Taylor and General Winfield Scott attacked Mexico from many fronts.

  • A third Army led by Stephen Kearny, captured much of New Mexico and southern California



  • John C. Fremont led a revolt in California and overthrew the Mexican officials there

  • Soon after, General Winfield Scott captured Mexico City bringing an end to the War.

Mexican Cession



  • In the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, Mexico had to cede all of California and the New Mexico Territory to the United States. This was the Mexican Cession.

  • The United States agreed to pay 15 million for the land. A few years later, the United States needed to purchase land again from Mexico for a railroad. This was the Gadsden Purchase which filled in the present day borders of the continental United States.

Mormons and Westward Expansion



  • Founded by Joseph Smith in 1830, the Mormon churched faced much persecution from their neighbors forcing them to relocate from New York to Ohio, then again to Missouri, and again to Illinois.



  • After an angry mob killed founding member Joseph Smith, the new Mormon leader Brigham Young decided that the group should move far out to the newly acquired Mexican Cession territories

The Mormon Trail



  • For years many Mormons moved out to Utah where the Mormons settled.

  • The Mormons created a trail that others including non-Mormons would use in their journeys out west.

California Gold Rush



  • In 1848, John Sutter discovered gold at his sawmill.

  • He tried to keep it secret, but word eventually leaked out and soon hundreds of Californians rushed to Sutter’s Mill to find gold.

  • “Gold Fever” soon gripped the nation. Thousands of people flocked to California with dreams of striking it rich . More than 80,000 people made the long journey to California in 1849.


  • They became known as the forty-niners

  • California’s population exploded almost overnight.

  • Small camps grew quickly into thriving cities

  • Because of the greed for gold, many people turned to robbery and crime. Lawlessness soon became the way of the wild west.

  • As crime grew, people turned to vigilantism to combat the violence and crime.

  • People from all over the world came to California as the news spread.

  • Chinese immigrants arrived for the first time in California with dreams of finding gold.

  • Instead they were run out of the mines by other miners

  • Many Chinese immigrants resorted to building railroads and other laborious tasks

  • African Americans who came out west also faced discrimination

  • Native Americans suffered the worst as they were pushed out of their lands.


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