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United States Expansionism: 1790s 1860s Essay

1188 words - 5 pages


The major American aspiration during the 1790s through the 1860s was westward expansion. Americans looked to the western lands as an opportunity for large amounts of free land, for growth of industry, and manifest destiny. This hunger for more wealth and property, led Americans conquer lands that were rightfully someone else's. Manifest destiny and westward expansion brought many problematic issues to the Unites States verses the Indians that took the Americans to the Civil War.
The first issue that arose for the Americans, was where to put the existing Indians while they conquered their land. The United States felt that the Indians needed to be secluded from all other races so that they would become civilized. This Indian Territory was where eastern Indian tribes such as the Kickapoos, Delawares, and Shawnees lived. As the population of Americans increased in the western sector of the United States, they also invaded that land specially allotted for the Indians. Instead of moving the Americans out of the Indian Territory, the government minimized the size of Indian Territory by half. Now the Northern half was open for white settlement. As for the western Indians, such as the Sioux, Cheyenne, and Arapahos, American settlers went around them to settle the California and Oregon. The Americans decided to stay away from further conflict with the native Americans because they knew they were unable to move them away from their land.
Americans continued their western movement and put forth their domination over the Indians. The first step the United States took in claiming this new land for them was by establishing a land system. The Land Ordinance of 1785 established an orderly way to divide up and sell the new lands of the Western United States. Shortly after, the Northwest Ordinance of 1787 set up a system of government for the land north of the Ohio River. Slavery was outlawed in the five states that made up the Northwest Territory, and no self-government was to be set up until at least five thousand free white men were in the territory.
The next step the Americans took had to do with forcing the Indians off their land. They managed to trick the Indians by making treaties with them. The Indians were practically forced to agree with the treaties. Most Americans didn't even keep their promises. For example, in the Treaty of Fort Stanwiz of 1784 and the Treaty of Fort McIntosh of 1785, the Iroquois and other Ohio Indians were forced to give a portion of their land to the United States. The U. S. then proceeded to divide up this land, but settlers could not buy any of it until 1788. Many Americans became restless and decided to go in and settle these lands illegally, not honoring their treaty with the Indians.
These treaties were the only way the United States was going to be allowed to legally take over the Indian lands with the agreement of the Indians. This new recognition and use of treaties fell under the Indian Intercourse Act of 1790. This...

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