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The united states expansion throughout the first half of the 19th century

The story of the United States has always been one of westward expansion, beginning along the East Coast and continuing, often by leaps and bounds, until it reached the Pacific—what Theodore Roosevelt described as "the great leap Westward. Even before the American colonies won their independence from Britain in the Revolutionary War, settlers were migrating westward into what are now the states of Kentucky and Tennessee, as well as parts of the Ohio Valley and the Deep South. The Monroe Doctrine, adopted in 1823, was the closest America ever came to making Manifest Destiny official policy; it put European nations on notice that the U.

Westward the Course of Empire The debate over whether the U. When the Dred Scott case prevented Congress from passing laws prohibiting slavery and the Kansas-Nebraska act gave citizens of new states the right to decide for themselves whether their state would be free or slaveholding, a wave of settlers rushed to populate the Kansas-Nebraska Territory in order to make their position—pro- or anti-slavery—the dominant one when states were carved out of that territory.

The slavery debate intensified after the Republic of Texas was annexed the united states expansion throughout the first half of the 19th century new lands acquired as a result of the Mexican War and an agreement with Britain that gave the U.

The question was only settled by the American Civil War and the passage of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution prohibiting slavery. When gold was discovered in California, acquired through the treaty that ended the war with Mexico in 1848, waves of treasure seekers poured into the area.

The California Gold Rush was a major factor in expansion west of the Mississippi. That westward expansion was greatly aided by the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad in 1869, and passage of the Homestead Act in 1862. That act provided free 160-acre lots in the unsettled West to anyone who would file a claim, live on the land for five years and make improvements to it, including building a dwelling. The acquisition of Hawaii and Alaska in the mid-19th century assured westward expansion would continue into the 20th century.

The great losers in this westward wave were the Native American tribes. Displaced as new settlers moved in, they lost their traditional way of life and were relegated to reservations. However, westward expansion provided the United States with vast natural resources and ports along the Atlantic, Pacific and Gulf coasts for expanding trade, key elements in creating the superpower America is today.

It was the notion that Americans and the institutions of the U. Those beliefs had their origins in the Puritan settlements of New England and the idea that the New World was a new beginning, a chance to correct problems in European government and society—a chance to get things right.

We have it in our power to begin the world over again.

United States Maritime Expansion across the Pacific during the 19th Century

The Whig Party stood in opposition, in part because Whigs feared a growing America would bring with it a spread of slavery. In the case of the Oregon Territory of the Pacific Northwest, for example, Whigs hoped to see an independent republic friendly to the United States but not a part of it, much like the Republic of Texas but without slavery.

Democrats wanted that region, which was shared with Great Britain, to become part and parcel of the United States. Citizens of the Midwestern states were more inclined to active acquisition of territory, rather than relying on noncoercive persuasion. As the century wore on, the South came to view Manifest Destiny as an opportunity to secure more territory for the creation of additional slaveholding states in Central America and the Caribbean.

It also nearly resulted in war with Great Britain over the Oregon Territory. Learn more about Manifest Destiny. This purchase more than doubled the area of the The united states expansion throughout the first half of the 19th century. The constitutionality of the purchase was questioned by many members of the U. House of Representatives and even by Jefferson himself, but the security and economic benefits of acquiring the territory won out, and the treaty was ratified on October 20, 1803.

Following the purchase of the Louisiana Territory, finalized in October 1803, Jefferson expanded the mission of the Corps: In June 1803, Lewis selected William Clark to be joint commander of the expedition, which would be a corps in the U. Army created solely for the expedition. Along the way they were joined and aided by a French trader named Toussaint Charboneau and his Shoshone wife, Sacagaweawho gave birth to her first child—named Jean Baptise—on February 11, 1805, just before they departed with the Corps of Discovery on April 7.

After a two and half year journey—the first transcontinental expedition—the Corps of Discovery arrived back in St. Louis on September 23, 1806. They had achieved their objectives, except for the discovery of a Northwest passage via water to the Pacific, although the route that they took became part of the Oregon Trail.

Their journey helped open the American west to further exploration and settlement, providing valuable geographical and diplomatic information, giving the U. Their scientific data alone provided great advances, including the discovery of 178 new plants and 122 previously unknown species and subspecies of animals. The Americans initially saw themselves both as defenders of their own country and as liberators of the Canadian settlers, but after the first handful of battles fought on the Canadian border in Michigan and near Niagara Falls, it became clear that the Canadians did not want to be "liberated.

The war lasted for three years and was fought on three fronts: Although both countries invaded each other, borders at the end of the war remained the same.

There was no clear victor, although both the U. Learn more about the War Of 1812 The War of 1812 did have a clear loser, however: The confederation completely dissolved at the end of the war when the British retreated back into Canada, breaking their promises to help the tribes defend their lands against U.

Missouri Compromise and the Kansas-Nebraska Act When the slaveholding territory of Missouri applied for statehood in 1819, it led to a confrontation between those who favored the expansion of slavery and those who opposed it.

An agreement called the Missouri Compromise was passed by Congress two years later, under which states would be admitted in pairs, one slaveholding and one free.

Then, in the 1857 Dred Scott case the Supreme Court ruled Congress had no right to prohibit slavery in the territories. The Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 repealed the law that prohibited slavery above the 36 degrees, 30 minutes longitude line in the old Louisiana Purchase.

Territories would henceforth have the right of popular sovereignty, with the settlers of those territories, not Congress, determining if they would permit or prevent slavery within their borders. It was the closest that Manifest Destiny would come to being written into official government policy. The doctrine was authored mainly by John Quincy Adams, who saw it as an official moral objection to and opposition of colonialism. Although the doctrine was largely ignored—the U.

The Monroe Doctrine implied that the U. Learn more about The Monroe Doctrine. It had immediate impact on the so-called Five Civilized Tribes—the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Muscogee-Creek, and Seminole—who had been until then been permitted to act as autonomous nations on their lands the southern U. The first treaty signed following the passage of the act was on September 27, 1830: A Choctaw chief who was interviewed in late 1831 shortly after the blizzard called the removal a "trail of tears and death" for his people—a phrase that was widely repeated in the press and seared into popular memory when it was applied to the brutal removal of the Cherokee from Georgia in 1838.

Georgia had been one of the strongest supporters the Indian Removal Act. Tensions between the Cherokee and settlers had risen to new heights with the discovery of gold near Dahlonega, Georgia, in 1829, leading to the Georgia Gold Rush—the first U. The state put enormous pressure on the Cherokees to sign a treaty, and a minority of the tribe signed the Treaty of New Echota in 1835.

From May 18 to June 2, 1838, the Cherokees were rounded up into forts as settlers began moving onto their lands. Some Cherokee were forced to live in the forts—little more than stockades—on Army rations for up to five months before starting their journey to Indian Territory. Of the approximately 16,000 Cherokees, more 4,000 died as a result of conditions in the forts, some from the journey—on foot, by wagon and steamboat—to Oklahoma, and some from the consequences of the relocation.

About 1,000 Cherokees stayed behind, living on private lands or eking out an existence in the wilderness. Read more about the Indian Removal Act. Ultimately, the question was settled peacefully in a manner that gave the United States clear possession of its first important Pacific port, the area of Puget Sound.

Britain, Spain, Russia and the U. By international principle, his journey gave the United States a claim to all the area drained by the river and its tributaries. This treaty also defined the western borders of the Louisiana Purchase, which had been somewhat vague.

The southern borderline would be the 42nd parallel, the top of present California, and would extend across the Rockies to the Pacific. That left the northern boundary the united states expansion throughout the first half of the 19th century be defined.

The Anglo-American Convention of 1818 between the U. Under the treaty, the question of dividing that region could be revisited every 10 years. In 1824, Russia abandoned its claims south of the 54 degrees, 40 minutes parallel 54-40. In the 1840s, Americans began their major push west of the Mississippi, into lands that were largely unsettled except by the indigenous tribes. Some went in search of land, some in search of gold and silver, and in the case of the Mormons, in search of religious freedom.

Four trails provided their primary pathways: Braving harsh weather, attacks by Indians or wild animals, and isolation, their numbers rose into the tens of thousands.

Increasingly, Americans talked of the prospect of a transcontinental railroad. In the presidential election of 1844, Democrat James K. Polk narrowly won on a platform of national expansion. The youngest president up to that time, Polk tended toward confrontational diplomacy. Britain had long offered to split the Oregon Territory, along the line of the Columbia River. The only area of contention was Puget Sound, which promised its owner a deep-water port for trade with China and Pacific Islands.

Polk then demanded the whole territory, north to the 54-40 line. In April 1846, Congress authorized Polk to end the joint agreement of 1818. Americans took up the slogan "54-40 or fight," and war loomed with Britain. The British, however, saw little value in another war with its former colonies in order to protect the interest of the Hudson Bay Company along the Pacific Coast.

An agreement was reached that split the Oregon Territory along the 49th parallel excepting the southern portion of Vancouver Island in exchange for free navigation along the Columbia for the Hudson Bay Company. Texas had won independence from Mexico in 1836, although Mexico refused to officially acknowledge the republic or its borders.

Upon learning Slidell was there to purchase more territory instead of compensate Mexico for Texas, the Mexican government refused to receive him. Slidell wrote to Polk, "We can never get along well with them, until we have given them a good drubbing. In January 1846, to defend the disputed Texas border and put pressure on Mexican officials to work with Slidell—and perhaps to provoke the Mexicans into a military response—Polk ordered General Zachary Taylor with a small U.

Army contingent to the north bank of the Rio Grande.

Westward Expansion

Texas and the U. On April 25, 1846, a patrol under Captain Seth Thornton encountered a force of 2,000 Mexican soldiers; 11 Americans were killed and the rest captured. One wounded man was released by the Mexicans and reported news of the skirmish. Polk received word of the conflict a few days before he addressed Congress.

The Thornton Affair, which "shed American blood upon American soil," provided a more solid footing for his declaration of war, though the veracity of the account is still questioned today. Some opposed the war on grounds that war should not be used to expand the U.