Western Expansion In America Essay

1117 words - 5 pages

The United States began as a group of 13 colonies controlled by Great Britain. These colonies won their independence in the American Revolution and became a unified country. Since that moment, the United States has been continuously expanding its borders. The Northwest Territory was gained as a result of the American Revolution, the Louisiana Territory was purchased from France, and the lands of California, New Mexico, and Texas were gained after the Mexican-American War. All of these gained lands helped expand the borders of the United States and develop the country into a global force. Expansion into the western lands of the United States became a growing trend in the early 19th century and continued to gain popularity amongst Americans. These lands promised a new start for some people, and for others, an opportunity for great wealth. Western expansion also created conflict between Americans. Competition for the best land, debates over slavery, and conflicts with Indians began to emerge with the increased expansion. The benefits and conflicts associated with western expansion defined the area and its role in America.
The expansion to the western lands of the United States created a number of benefits for the economy and its citizens. With the expansion to these lands, Americans gained the added land area along with the resources that the land possessed. One of these valuable resources that attracted Americans to the West was gold. During the mid-1800s, gold was discovered in northeastern California. This inspired a movement of many Americans to leave their homes to settle in the West in the hope of discovering gold. This gold rush attracted primarily single men into the uncharted western lands. Another resource that attracted Americans to the West was the added land itself. The land could be used for agricultural purposes such as small farming plots, plantations, and pastures. The added land used for agriculture in the West allowed Eastern industry to develop because the land that was once used for agricultural purposes could be used for manufacturing or other industries that were emerging at this time. Much of the area was open to farmers looking to find land of their own. Plantation owners of the South also could find land to expand their plantation system in the West. Arable land was becoming limited in the South, so the West provided the additional land for plantation families to grant to their children or for their own use (Hewitt and Lawson 365).
Increased trade was another reason Americans wanted to expand to the West. This benefit would establish a trade route across the Pacific Ocean linking the United States with East Asian countries. Along with having numerous trade routes in the Atlantic Ocean, expanding America’s influence across the Pacific Ocean would help increase the United States global influence. California and Oregon were fundamentally important in establishing these trade relations with Asia. Along with increased...

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