Westward expansion essay

Westward Expansion was an important period in the history of America and its impact can still be seen in the country today. This period saw the United States expand its borders from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean, creating a vast nation. This essay will examine the key events and figures that shaped this period of expansion, as well as the positive and negative effects of the movement.

The Lewis and Clark Expedition of 1804-06 was one of the most significant events of this period. Led by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, this exploration party reached the Pacific Ocean and created a map of the continent's waterways. This expedition opened up the West to settlers, which eventually led to the acquisition of the Louisiana Territory from France in 1803. The Louisiana Purchase more than doubled the size of the United States and opened up a new region to exploration and settlement.

The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848 also played an important role in Westward Expansion. This treaty, resolving a conflict between Mexico and America, called for Mexico to cede nearly 500,000 square miles of land to the United States. This land was later divided into several different states, most notably California, Nevada, Utah, and Colorado.

The Homestead Act of 1862 granted land to settlers in the West and encouraged people to move away from the Eastern cities to the unsettled regions of the West. This act allowed settlers to claim 160 acres of land for free, provided they improved the land and lived on it for five years. This act created a massive influx of settlers into the West and also opened up resources such as timber, minerals, and cattle for exploitation.

Westward Expansion also had some negative effects, as many Native American tribes were forcibly removed from their homelands to make way for settlers. In addition, many miners and settlers damaged the environment by recklessly exploiting natural resources. The violent subjugation of Native American tribes is still seen today in the poverty-stricken reservations that many tribes inhabit.

In conclusion, Westward Expansion was an important period in American history. It allowed for the United States to become a transcontinental nation and spurred on economic growth in the West. However, it also had some negative aspects, such as Native American displacement and environmental damage.

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