Early Westward Expansion Move to the West

USI.26 Describe the causes, course, and consequences of America’s westward expansion and its growing diplomatic assertiveness. Use a map of North America to trace America’s expansion to the Civil War, including the location of the Santa Fe and Oregon trails. (H, E, G)
  • A. the War of 1812
  • B. the purchase of Florida in 1819
  • C. the 1823 Monroe Doctrine
  • D. the Cherokees’ Trail of Tears
  • E. the annexation of Texas in 1845
  • F. the concept of Manifest Destiny and its relationship to westward expansion
  • G. the acquisition of the Oregon Territory in 1846
  • H. the territorial acquisitions resulting from the Mexican War
  • I. the search for gold in California
  • J. the Gadsden Purchase of 1854
Map of Western Expansion and Advertisement
  1. 1767: Daniel Boone explores Kentucky for the first time.
  2. 1803: Louisiana Purchase - President Thomas Jefferson buys the Louisiana Territory from France for $15 million. This doubles the size of the United States and provides a large area to the west of the country for expansion.
  3. 1805: Lewis and Clark reach the Pacific Ocean - Explorers Lewis and Clark map out areas of the Louisiana Purchase and eventually reach the Pacific Ocean.
  4. 1830: Indian Removal Act - Congress passes a law to move Native Americans from the Southeast to the west of the Mississippi River.
  5. 1836: Battle of the Alamo - Mexican troops attack the Alamo Mission killing all but two Texans. This spurs the Texans on in the Texas Revolution.
  6. 1838: Trail of Tears - The Cherokee Nation is forced to march from the east coast to Oklahoma. Many thousands die along the way.
  7. 1841: Oregon Trail - People begin to travel west in wagon trains on the Oregon Trail. Around 300,000 people would take the trail over the next 20 years.
  8. 1845: Manifest Destiny - Journalist John O'Sullivan first uses the term "Manifest Destiny" to describe the westward expansion of the United States.
  9. 1845: Texas becomes a U.S. State - The United States officially claims Texas as a state, eventually leading to the Mexican-American War.
  10. 1846: Brigham Young leads 5,000 Mormons to Utah - After experiencing religious persecution, the Mormons move to Salt Lake City, Utah.
  11. 1846-1848: The Mexican-American War - A war fought over the rights to Texas. After the war, the United States paid Mexico $15 million for land that would later become California, Texas, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, and parts of several other states.
  12. 1846: Oregon Treaty - England signs the Oregon Treaty handing over the Oregon Territory to the United States.
  13. 1848: Gold Rush begins - James Marshall discovers gold at Sutter's Mill. Soon word is out and people rush to California to strike it rich.
  14. 1849: Around 90,000 "Forty-niners" move to California to find gold.
  15. 1860: The Pony Express begins to deliver mail.
  16. 1861: The First Transcontinental Telegraph line is finished. The Pony Express shuts down.
  17. 1862: Pacific Railroad Act - The United States government agrees to help fund a railroad from California to Missouri.
  18. 1862: Homestead Act - The U.S. government offers up free land to farmers who agree to live on the land for five years and make improvements to the land. Many people rush to places like Oklahoma to claim their land.
  19. 1869: The Transcontinental Railroad is completed - The Union Pacific Railroad and the Central Pacific Railroads meet at Promontory, Utah and the railroad is completed.
  20. 1872: Yellowstone National Park is dedicated as the nation's first national park by President Ulysses S. Grant.
  21. 1874: Black Hills Gold - Gold is discovered in the Black Hills of South Dakota.
  22. 1874: Barbed wire invented - Ranchers can now use barbed wire fences to keep their cattle from ranging free.
  23. 1876: Wild Bill Hickok is shot and killed while playing poker in Deadwood, South Dakota.
  24. 1876: Battle of Little Bighorn - An American Indian army composed of Lakota, Northern Cheyenne, and Arapahoe defeat General Custer and the 7th Calvary.
  25. 1890: The U.S. Government announces that the Western lands have been explored.

WAR OF 1812

  • The War of 1812 was the second war between the United States and Great Britain. The United States won its independence in the first war—the American Revolution. Neither country won anything important in the War of 1812.
  • In the early 1800s Great Britain was fighting a war against France. The United States did not take part in this war, but Britain tried to keep U.S. ships from stopping at French ports. The British also took sailors away from U.S. ships and forced them to join the British Navy. These actions angered many people in the United States.
  • People who lived in newly settled areas of the United States were also angry with Britain. They accused the British of getting Native Americans to attack settlers.
  • Henry Clay of Kentucky led a group in Congress called “war hawks.” The war hawks got President James Madison to sign a declaration of war against Britain on June 18, 1812.
  • In August 1814 British troops sailed up Chesapeake Bay and entered Washington, D.C. They burned the White House and other government buildings. They then tried to capture Baltimore, Maryland, but failed. Francis Scott Key wrote the words to “The Star-Spangled Banner” after this battle.
  • On January 8, 1815, British soldiers attacked troops led by Andrew Jackson at New Orleans, Louisiana. Jackson’s forces defeated the British. Both sides fought this battle without knowing that their countries had signed a peace treaty in Ghent, Belgium, on December 24, 1814.
  • The war was over, but there was no clear winner. The boundaries returned to where they were before the war. Andrew Jackson and William Henry Harrison were considered heroes because of the battles that they won. Both were later elected president of the United States. Another result of the war was that the United States became more independent from Europe. The country developed more of a sense of national identity.

Purchase of Florida

  • Transcontinental Treaty, also called Adams-Onís Treaty or Purchase of Florida, (1819) was an agreement between the United States and Spain that divided the country from Texas and the east. Thus, Spain gave Florida to the United States and renounced the Oregon Country in exchange for recognition of Spanish sovereignty (control) over Texas.
Sale of Florida to the United States

Trail of Tears

  • In the 1830s the U.S. government took away the homelands of many Native American groups in the Southeast. It then forced them to move to lands west of the Mississippi River. Most of them had to walk all the way. This event is known as the Trail of Tears. The term is used in particular to describe the journey of the Cherokee people.
  • In the early 1800s the Cherokee got along better with the United States than most other Native American groups. Then, in 1835, gold was found on Cherokee land in Georgia. Some white people decided to take over the land and push the Cherokee out.
  • In 1835 a few Cherokee signed a treaty, or agreement, with the U.S. government. They agreed to sell all Cherokee land to the United States for $5 million. But most of the tribe did not think the treaty was legal. The U.S. Supreme Court agreed with them.
  • President Andrew Jackson and Georgia officials ignored the Court’s decision. In the fall of 1838 U.S. troops began rounding up about 15,000 Cherokee and putting them in prison camps. Local residents burned their homes. Troops then sent the Cherokee west in groups of about 1,000.
  • The Cherokee suffered terribly on the march, which lasted 116 days. They had to walk in the cold, and they were not allowed to rest. They did not have enough food. About 4,000 Cherokee died.
  • The end of the trail for the Cherokee was land in what is now Oklahoma. Many Cherokee still live there.

Mexican American War

  • From 1846 to 1848 the United States fought a war with Mexico. North Americans now know the conflict as the Mexican War, or the Mexican-American War. As a result of the war, the United States took over the land that later became New Mexico, Utah, Nevada, Arizona, California, Texas, and western Colorado.
  • In 1845 Mexico and the Republic of Texas both wanted the same piece of land. (At the time Texas was an independent country.) The land they both wanted was north of the river called the Rio Grande. The United States soon joined the quarrel because Texas was about to become a state. Both sides sent soldiers to the area. In May 1846 the United States declared war against Mexico.
  • The United States attacked from several directions. General Zachary Taylor crossed the Rio Grande and won victories in Mexico. General Winfield Scott captured Mexico City, Mexico’s capital. Colonel Stephen Kearny easily took New Mexico. Kearny, Commodore Robert F. Stockton, and Lieutenant Colonel John C. Frémont conquered California. In January 1847 the United States brought the last areas under U.S. control.
  • The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo formally ended the war. The United States and Mexico signed it on February 2, 1848. The treaty gave the United States more than 500,000 square miles (1,300,000 square kilometers) of Mexican territory—from the Rio Grande west to the Pacific Ocean. The United States paid Mexico $15 million in return.
  • General Taylor was considered a hero for his actions during the war. As a result he was elected president of the United States in 1848. He and the U.S. Congress then had to deal with the question of allowing slavery in the new areas. Congress had allowed Texas to have slavery. But in 1850 it let California ban slavery. It gave other territories the right to vote on whether to have slavery. Still, arguments over slavery continued. They finally led to the American Civil War in 1861.

Manifest Destiny

  • As the United States expanded in the 1800s, many Americans were inspired by an idea known as Manifest Destiny. They believed that the United States had a duty to stretch westward to the Pacific Ocean and even beyond. In doing so the nation would spread Protestant and democratic ideals across the North American continent.
  • The phrase “Manifest Destiny” was introduced by journalist John L. O’Sullivan in an 1845 newspaper article. In that year the United States admitted Texas to the Union as the 28th state. Writing about the event, O’Sullivan spoke of America’s “manifest destiny to overspread the continent allotted by Providence for the free development of our yearly multiplying millions.” The idea of Manifest Destiny was later used to justify the addition of Oregon, New Mexico, California, Alaska, and Hawaii to the United States.

Gadsden Purchase

  • In 1853 the United States bought a large piece of land from Mexico. That sale is known as the Gadsden Purchase. It moved the border between the two countries south, to where it lies today. The Gadsden Purchase is named for James Gadsden, a U.S. businessman who helped to bring about the purchase.
  • At the end of the Mexican War in 1848, the United States took more than 525,000 square miles (1,360,000 square kilometers) of land from Mexico. That land later became the states of California, Colorado, Nevada, Texas, and Utah. The land also included the northern parts of what are now Arizona and New Mexico.
  • At that time, James Gadsden was president of the South Carolina Railroad Company. He wanted to create the first transcontinental railroad—a railroad across the entire continent. He believed the best route for this new railroad was through part of northern Mexico. U.S. president Franklin Pierce agreed with Gadsden’s idea. Pierce sent Gadsden to Mexico to buy land for the railroad.
  • Gadsden met with Mexico’s president, Antonio López de Santa Anna, in 1853. Mexico badly needed money, so Santa Anna agreed to sell the land that Gadsden wanted. The United States paid 10 million dollars for almost 30,000 square miles (78,000 square kilometers) of land. The land would become the southern parts of Arizona and New Mexico.
Gadsden Purchase
Created By
Pedro menino


Created with images by mypubliclands - "#TravelTuesday with My Public Lands" • Georgia National Guard - "War of 1812" • Lamerie - "odd_trail_of_tears"

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