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Westward Expansion In The Us Essay

2359 words - 9 pages

I. IntroOnce the United States had successfully created and implemented a stable constitution, it was recognized that further progress as a country would only come from expansion westward. Settlers in the New World were initially held along the east coast by the Proclamation of 1763 to minimize potentially dangerous interactions with Native Americans. While not all adhered to this rule, especially after British political influence permanently left the country in 1776, the Proclamation seemed to have served its purpose. By 1800, less than 7% of the population lived west of the Appalachians. Of those that did, the majority of them resided in the Ohio River Valley, which was home to fertile land that could easily be modified for farming. There were many differences between this United States and the one of 1900, the most prominent being size. In just the 19th century alone, the size of the U.S. grew from under one million square miles to over three million square miles. In this same time frame, the percent of the population that lived in the west rose from 7% all the way to 60%. There was also a large shift geographically in the distribution of economic activity. The west was responsible for under thirty percent of federal household income in 1840, but in 1900, it was responsible for fifty four percent. The United States' expansion westward was directly related to three quantitatively important forces, the first of which being the stock of usable land, the second being population size. As both of these increased, as did the rate of Western Expansion. The third force was the cost of transportation, which has a positive effect on expansion as it decreased. These phenomenon can be observed through the Louisiana Purchase, the Lewis and Clark Expedition, the War of 1812, the Missouri Compromise and the Kansas Nebraska Act, the Indian Removal Act, the Mexican-American War, the Transcontinental Railroad, and the Homestead Act.[0: "U.S. Population, Land Area and Density, 1790-2000." U.S. Population, Land Area and Density, 1790-2000. http://www.u-s-history.com/pages/h986.html (accessed May 17, 2014).]II. Louisiana PurchaseLa Vente de la Louisiana, or the sale of Louisiana, was one of the United States' largest land acquisitions. In today's money, it was sold for an amazing equivalent of 42 cents per acre. The Louisiana territory was a pawn on the chessboard of European politics. Throughout its history, there were always multiple claims on parts of its vast spread. It was first claimed entirely by Spain, but parts were later acquired by the French. After the Seven Years War, France's defeat allowed the entire territory west of the Mississippi to belong solely to Spain, but not for long. As Napoleon Bonaparte's army spread its influence over almost all of Europe, a weakened Spain was forced to secretly surrender Louisiana to France just three weeks before its succession to the United States. In 1802, Robert R. Livingston and James Monroe met with ambassadors...

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