US Expansion Of 1800s


     Throughout the first half of the 1800s or 19th century there were many
factors influencing United States expansion. From the Louisiana Purchase in 1803
to the Gadsden Purchase in 1853 the United States had tripled in size since its
original thirteen colonies and only paid forty-five million dollars in doing so.

The idea of Manifest Destiny spread quickly throughout the country and soon
thousands were moving westward in search of a new way of life. The idea of

Manifest Destiny was for the U.S. to occupy the entire continent. The only
problem was that the land it was expanding on to didn’t belong to the U.S. One
such factor that influenced the expansion of the U.S. was the occupation of
nearby territories by foreign countries. The largest territory and first one to
be bought by the U.S. was the Louisiana Purchase of 1803. In order for the

United States to expand successfully into the west they needed control of the

Mississippi River, which at the time was owned by France. The port at New

Orleans was extremely important to the navigation of the Mississippi and
provided a good market for trade. While this purchase was very successful,
others did not go as well. Prior to the Mexican Cession of 1848 the United

States and Mexico were having boundary disputes over where the Texas boarder
existed. President Polk reacted by sending troops into Mexico to protect the

Texas boundary lines. A year and a half later Mexico surrendered and Texas was
granted the Rio Grande border line in the Treaty of Guadalupe. Because of the
different nations or countries that owned land on the continent, the U.S. was
forced to purchase or fight for the land it wanted. This caused the newly
acquired territories to have a more diverse group of people, which affected the
social development of the nation as a whole. Another huge factor that played a
role in expansion was that of available resources. As the people began to move
westward they would settle in areas with vast amounts of natural resources such
as lakes or streams, where they could gather food. Lakes were very important to
travel because they provided drinking water for the people and attracted wild
animals to the area, which could be hunted for food. Also if an area were to dry
or rocky it wouldn’t be settled. People looked for the best places to live,
places they could profit from the most. During the gold rush everyone traveled
to the western coast in hopes of becoming rich for the very same reason. This
factor affected the economical and social development of the U.S. because
certain areas or regions would produce specific products. Different types of
people would also live in the separate areas depending on wealth or trade that
the family specified in. The third and maybe the greatest factor affecting the
migration across the land was geography. Mountains, rivers, lakes, plains, and
in some cases canyons were among the biggest impediments for people moving out
west. At first people began to settle beyond the Appalachian Mountains and
slowly moved westward towards the Mississippi River. Here they had to cross with
their belongings safely without sinking them or getting them wet. Next they had
to cross the Great Plains that stretched on for miles and miles without food or
water. Depending on the time of year it was the weather conditions varied
sometimes making it impossible to travel because of snow or heavy fog. Finally,
the Rocky Mountains stood in their path. Being the only obstacle left between
them and the Pacific Ocean, the Rocky Mountains were the most difficult to pass.

Travelers would be lost or stranded in the mountains with no food for weeks,
sometimes turning to cannibalism. Many people died from disease and starvation
during their difficult trip west proving it to be virtually impossible to reach
the other side of the continent. These natural barriers slowed the progress of
expansion across America and isolated groups of people traveling, causing them
to settle where they were. Because of this, small towns or villages formed along
the routes west. The geography also contributed to the social development of

America as the barriers isolated people and kept the economy the same in
different sections of the country. This had many bad affects on the economies in
some areas where the people were dependent upon one thing resource, crop, or
product. During the time of expansion large areas of land were given to the

United States from foreign countries. Great Britain contributed the most land to
the U.S. through treaties especially at the end of the Revolutionary War. France
sold the Louisiana territory to the U.S. inexpensively and Spain also sold

Florida to the United States in the Adams-Onis treaty. Every foreign nation
signed a treaty with the U.S. agreeing to sell their land claims in the
continent, except for Mexico. Mexico caused the most problems politically,
economically, and socially. The United States went to war with Mexico over

Texas’s boundaries and won, taking Texas and the people with it. Through the
political confrontation with Mexico the U.S. changed its own economic and social
development by bringing Mexicans into the country. With every purchase or treaty
the U.S. made they took in more and more people from other countries changing
the social development country. This is why other nations played the greatest
role in the development and expansion of the United States