Westward Expansion 19th century


Land Ordinance of 1785

April 1784

Thomas Jefferson authored ordinance previous year for land to be divided up into states west of Appalachians

it set up a "standardized system whereby settlers could purchase title to farmland in the undeveloped west. Congress at the time did not have the power to raise revenue by direct taxation, so land sales provided an important revenue stream. The Ordinance set up a survey system that eventually covered over three-fourths of the area of the continental United States"- Vernon Carstensen
-> could be expanded into easily

Divided up states of Ohio, Indiana, Illionis ready for settlement by Southerners (especially Virginians) 19th century

Ontario launched - first passenger steamboat in USA


Chicago has 11k people


grew from a few hundred in 1849, bc of its system of 11 different rails

Superintendent of US Census says there is No Frontier Line


First time in US history

"historians have subsequently pointed out that this was a misleading, almost meaningless, statement because vast areas of the United States were still to be settled"
"but at this time its psychological impact was considerable because the frontier had become part of the Americcan identity"

Turner Thesis


Frederick Jackson Turner claims that it was "this constant confrontation with nature in the West that had made America fundamentally different from Europe"
for Turner 'the true point of view in the history of this nation is not the Atlantic coast, it is the Great West"
If there is a question on the Turner Thesis in the exam I will slowly pull out my own kidney

But DR says "in fact the speculator was just as important"


"one of the biggest migrations in history" during these 50 years -DR

population of 5mil. to 23 mil. in those 50 years

"people were on the move in massive numbers"

"from the older eastern states and from economically depressed areas of Europe"

"taming the wilderness has been a recurrent theme of America's national mythology"-DR -> Axe

"early settlers travelled by foot and wagon"

1800 - 1830


USA's border is "effectively the Appalachians"


Morris Birkbeck writes about people going West


an English traveller

"old America seems to be breaking up, and moving westward"
"we are seldom out of sight, as we travel on this grand track towards the Ohio, of family groups behind and before us"

not much baggage "a small wagon with two small horses; sometimes a cow or two, comprising their all; excepting a little store of hard-earned cash for the land office of the district"

From this time railroads + canal boats


to go west says DR
they "conquered distance in amazing ways"

by this time DR says USA had "become a democracy for white males, based on a new style of mass politics"

By this time settlement from New England mostly

1830 - 1839


More than southerners

By this time, biggest migration into west was not from south, but from New England
-> wher land had been ehausted by a couple of centuries of cultivation
"farms, even whole towns, were simply abandoned and fields turned over to sheep"
"the New Englander settled further north on the undulating priaries of central Indiana, Illinois and across the Mississippi in Iowa"
"this was more daunting terrain because of the lack of trees for building materials and also the tough surface soil whose thick grass, several feet high in summer, developed a matted, intertwined root system"

Price of land/acre $10-60 (boom)


John Deere tries highly pollished steel blade for plough


Superior for cutting the sod + scouring itself of clay
-> by end of 1840s he had moved base to Moline, Illinois + sold loads of ploughs

half America's 23 million people beyond Appalachians


and half its 30 states

says DR

Price of land/acre $10-60


fed gov

fed gov acts provided the incentive for the 600k people to settle in the West

"Once, it was argued that they were escaping the confines of the urban areas of the east or Europe or the lack of economic opportunity as they saw it there, but now the view is that most were established farmers already looking for better land."

Louisiana Purchase


Huge areas of land to expand into
tripled size of USA

Only one empire left to potentially support Nat Ams (Britain) -> could remove more easily

expansion could be beyond mississippi

Lewish and Clark expedition

1804 - 1806

Talk of amazing lands, ready for settlement

minimum price of land reduced to $1.25/acre


"the federal government was anxious to raise money, so vast tracts of land were sold off to men who had it"

Andrew Jackson

1829 - 1837

"the new West also started to assert itself in national politics"
"supremely through the protean figure of Andrew Jackson"

Chicago took off bc of ads - incorporated this year


"Ad-men also made the West"-DR
"Newspapers across America were full of notices singing the praises of this or that matchless city of the future"

some did take off -> DR points to Chicago
when incorporated only 350 people
"but many were just promotional hype"

"this became something of a sick joke"
-> evidenced by a spoof ad of "Skunksburgh"

"so the West was opened up by the con man and the laon shark as much as by the sturdy settler,but in the end technology proved even more decisive"

Preemption act


squatter who had worked som land could buy it at the minimum price

But still had to get the money -> loan sharks

"many pioneers, like Thomas Lincoln, worked an acreage for a while, sold at a profit and then mved on"
"land was always as much a speculative investment as a place to settle"-DR

Richard White says fed gov played "reactionary role" until this time


with Westward expansion

Oregon Treaty


borders agreed with Britain in Oregon country (war avoided)
-> but Richard White says shows that fed gov was reactionary bc there were lots of Americans there subverting British authority and the gov did v little

Donation Land Claim act


intended to promote homestead settlements in the Oregon Territory in the Pacific Northwest

forerunner of the homestead act

Kansas-Nebraska Act


Gov sanctions expansion into Kansas + Nebraska
=> Nats displaced to Louisiana Purchase territory further west

facilitated by Jackson's trail of tears 1838-9

Congress creates 3 new territories


Dakota, Colorado, Nevada

=> sectional issues cured with civil war (Republicans don't have to worry as much about sectionalism, says white)

Congress creates 13 new territories

1861 - 1888

"One of the central reasons for a federal presence in the West had been to divide and distribute public lands into private hands. "

only 4 achieve statehood during this period
=> "in theory, federal control in these territories was absolute" -> and fed gov wanted territories quiet (no repeat of Kansas 1851-4
territories were heavily subsidised by fed gov, especially early years
-> military posts maintained by fed, money to fulfil treaty obligations to Natives, built roads, provided + staffed land offices, extended mail routes to settled areas

"Such federal cost of defending the territory was £3mil/year

Homestead Act and Morrill Act


Homestead Acts were several United States federal laws that gave an applicant ownership of land, typically called a "homestead", at no cost. In all, more than 270 million acres of public land, or nearly 10% of the total area of the U.S., was given away free to 1.6 million homesteaders; most of the homesteads were west of the Mississippi River.

Morrill act - agricultural colleges set up

territory of Arizona created


Desert Land Act

March 1877

individuals may apply for a desert-land entry to reclaim, irrigate, and cultivate arid and semiarid public lands. This act amended the Homestead Act (1862). Originally the act offered 640 acres (2.6 km2), although currently only 320 acres may be claimed

Although the Desert Land Act was partly based on the Homestead Act and the Preemption Act (1841), it did not contain a key provision of those acts, namely the residence requirement. While the claimant did need to improve the land, the claimant did not need to live on the land while making the improvements.

Timber and Stone Act


sold Western timberland for $2.50 per acre in 160 acre blocks.

Land that was deemed "unfit for farming" was sold to those who might want to "timber and stone" (logging and mining) upon the land.

western part of Indian territory made into Oklahoma territory



Cumberland Turnpike built

1811 - 1837

"one of America's first improved highways"-DR

War of 1812


DR says after this "nationally minded congressmen demanded a massive programme of domestic improvements to strengthen the expanding country's internal ties"
-> roads
politicians were worried bc in Europe "distance reinforced divisions" -> might happen in USA

Calhoun said that without more discourse there would be more disunity in such a large place
-> urged Congress to 'bind the Republic together with a perfect system of roads and canals. Let us conquer space"

President Madison vetoes Calhoun's bill

3 MArch 1817

on his last day in office
-> Calhoun wanted for the US gov. to finance the programme of roads (see war of 1812)

Construction begins on Erie Canal

4 July 1817

"six weeks later the New York state legislatrue agreed to constuct a canal across the whole state, linking the Hudson river with Lake Erie" (talking about Calhoun's bill being vetoed)

"thus far, the canal mania that convulsed Britain in the late eighteenth century had passed America by"
-> at that pint only ~100 miles of canals - none longer than 27 miles
"Clinton was proposing a canal double the length of anything in Europe"

-> it was a huge gamble w. federal gov "washing hands" with the idea, American economy in "infancy" so no big venture capitalists rushing

middle section of it opened only two years later "and the toll revenue came rushing in"
=> big investors e.g. John Jacob Astor + European Banks such as Barings in London came rushing in, seeing the success

Erie Canal finished and opened

October 1825

363 miles long (London to Edinburgh)
climbed 600 feet
generated new tons e.g. Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse + "revolutionised trade"

Before, had cost 15-25 cent/mile to transport a ton of grain by wagon
=> now price was <2cents by boat

"pennsylvania, Ohio and other states rushed to catch up with New York"

Baltimore and Ohio Railroad begins operation


"ground was broken in America"
-> big day, last surviving signor of constitution Charles Carroll there, on 4th July
considered it to be "among the most important acts of my life, second only to my signing the Declaration of Independence, if even it be second to that"

"here was Baltimore's answer to New York - a railroad projected right across the Appalachians"-DR

During this decade "the Baltimore and OHio spread its tentacles south to Washington, DC and west to the National Road"

Boston and Maine Railroad opened


"Massachusetts, another state that had avoided canal mania, also decided to gamble on the iron horse"
it "helped rejuvinate the region's economy"

USA has >3.3k miles of canals


Canals moved people as well as freight
=> "much quicker than by stage coach"

"the Erie Canal was a unique success story: no other project really made money and canal mania left Pennsylvania and Indiana almost bankrupt"
-> new York had a special adv. bc it had the Mohawk Valley with a "natural notch" through the Appalachian mountains -> other canals had to cut through/climb over "either impossible or ruinously expensive"

DR says railroad construction eclipses canal construction

1840 - 1849

USA has >3.3k miles of track


(same figure as canals) -> but faster and more flexible "with branch lines easily built"

"this track mileage was nearly double the figure for the whole of Europe"

But these were not perfect:
different gauges used so "there was no such thing as a national network"
"nor did the railroads suddenly supplant canals", especially for heavy freight

Railroads spread from New England + New York across Appalachians

1850 - 1859

to criss-cross states of Ohio, Indiana + Illinois

Congress grants Illinois 2.5 mil. acres


for the Illinois railroad -> DR says for years Douglas had been lobbying congress
"this was an immense government subsidy"-DR

Illinois Central Railroad built

1852 - 1856

"the 1850s equivalent of the Erie Canal"-DR

ran 700 miles north from the southern tip of the state at Cairo, on the junction of Mississippi and Ohio rivers, and included a branch line into Chicago

built w. cost of nearly $27 million
dubbed "the longest railway in the world"

it "made Chicago into the great transport hub of the midwest" -> just E Canal w. New York
-> ambitious politician stephen Douglas behind it all (just like DeWitt Clinon in NY)

"the economic multiplier was enormous"
-> with security of land Illinois could borrow -> then sold off land later to settlers + speculators, spawning new towns along the track -> whose business created further money for railroad

Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin become dominant wheat growign states bc of railroad -> can transport the wheat

USA has >30k miles of track


roughly 4k miles of canals

"once again small investors and state subsidies played a huge part in their development but now Uncle Sam, who had refused to get his feet wet during the canal-boom, was also stepping in"

First Transcontinental Railroad opened


further more easy transport

brought settlers west
encouraged other companies to do same with similar results

Made the trip far easier + safer than the different trails (their use declined)

Peak year for coal tonnage on erie Canal


Manifest Destiny

Myth or reality? -> really wanted land

"most Americans at the beginning of the (18th) century had envisaged the Rockies as a natural boundary, beyond which sister republics would flourish"-DR

in the mid-1840s there was a resurgence of republican imperialism and new expansionists sought to counter the reluctance of many Americans to expand beyond existing boundaries. They argued that expansion was not just a triumph for liberty, but it was also foreordained and inevitable. Not just Texas and Oregon, they insisted, but Canada, Mexico, Cuba, and all the other lands of North America belonged to the United States by the right of “manifest destiny”.
-> talking about Richard White's views of the importance of manifest destiny

they sought to revive and enlarge Jefferson’s “empire of liberty”

contrast to Reynolds saying was more inflencial
it "captured the public imagination"

Senator Thmas Hart Benton of Missouri says


"along the back of this ridge (the rockies), a Western limit of the republic should be drawn"

but DR says "that was before the railroad and the telegraph"
"now a single polity spanning the whole continent from the Atlantic to the PAcific seemed conceivable - indeed, to many, almost inevitable"-DR
-> MD emerged bc of ^ technology

Texas applies to join USA


refused, but those who want it to be part of e.g. John Quincy Adams justify on Manifest Destiny

Richard White says this shows fed gov reactionary to westward expansion
-> unwilling + unable to take in
despite lots of missionaries + settlers there who were acc asking to be accepted into USA

Democrat campaign platform on Manifest Destiny


calling for the "re-occupation of Oregon and the re-annexation of Texas"
-> Reynolds point out "re" suggesting they had previously given away the right wrongly
-> Polk was elected on MD platform

John O'Sullivan coins "Manifest destiny


A newspaper editor

  1. The special virtues of the American people and their institutions
  2. The mission of the United States to redeem and remake the west in the image of agrarian America
  3. An irresistible destiny to accomplish this essential duty[3] Historian Frederick Merk says this concept was born out of "a sense of mission to redeem the Old World by high example ... generated by the potentialities of a new earth for building a new heaven"

But White is sceptical that "manifest destiny" was a driving force for WE for most American people
1. manifest destiny was a nationalist doctrine but there was deep sectionalism in USA - north + south division detracted from a nationalistic view such as this
2. racism
Manifest destiny also assumed that Americans wanted the continent no matter who was already living on it. Yet most of the people living in territory the expansionists coveted did not have white skins. In a country that was loudly and proudly racist, the absorption of large numbers of nonwhites was a proposal unlikely to draw wide support.
=> didn't want Mexico w. lots of Mexicans

And Sullivan himself believed that the transcontinental railroad was what would draw in republics like California + Texas

Annexation of Texas

December 1845

they had repeatedly asked to be annexed but USA had declined
=> took so long proves White's point that manifest destiny wasn't a dominant doctrine

White says Polk's biggest victory for expansionism (Tyler was a big expansionist president too)

White's argument:
In expanding West, the US government acted more from fear and anxiety than from confidence
-> kept Jefferson's idal for "empire of liberty" - white men agriculture - but added to it that expansion would ensure prosperity (USA only recently recovered from deep economic depression) while cooling sectional conflict + dispute over slavery
=> expansionism partially succeeded in 1840s bc of illusion that it could solve sectional problems

Mexican American War

April 1846 - February 1848

justified by manifest destiny (Polk)

White says the aftermath of this which led to the Civil War shows that manifest destiny was not a dominant doctrine

"ultimately the West was won by war and the principal victim was the other United States on the American continent, the United States of Mexico"-DR

"The USA had a booming economy, knitted together by canals and railroads, whereas Mexico was still largely agrarian"-DR

Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo


It gave the United States the Rio Grande as a boundary for Texas, and gave the U.S. ownership of California and a large area comprising roughly half of New Mexico, most of Arizona, Nevada, and Utah, and parts of Wyoming and Colorado.

Pursuit of Gold

California Gold Rush


cause mass immigration by boat + land
caused formation of cities such as San Francisco
=> able to migrate so quickly bc of transport links

Did not contribute to LONG TERM expansive progress bc it was BLACK SWAN

Dissapointed miners returned home when no gold found
=> mainly men so not likely to remain (unlike family)

lured 25k asian immigrants to come to USA

90k people moved to California


Settlement following the region continued for many reasons other than its gold

they also have an act from government which allows them to be incredibly brutal to natives

"Strike" of gold in Comstock, Nevada


similar effects of California gold rush

More easily to get to now than the '49ers bc they have transport improvements (e.g. railroad)

But just like in California, moved back east when dried up
"mining settlements were often lawles and discouraged all but the very hardy"

Strike of gold in Dakota



Society for Propogating the Gospel among Indians founded


Already founded - if more significant, would have caused expansion earlier

continued a small amount of expansion throughout next century

Mormons great trek

1846 - 1847

led to colonsiation of Utah

=> away from low key oppression, under Brigham Young

(Joseph Smith already killed, and already chased out of 3 states - Ohio, Illinois, Missouri)
religious freedom in relatively uninhavited west

Missionaries come to a halt in Oregon


Cayuse Indians, believing missionaries had started a devastating measles epidemic, massacred missionaries Marcus and Narcissa Prentiss Whitman and eleven others at an Oregon mission.

=> general theme of missionaries being quite dependent on tribe's situation
whether or not they accepted the "white man's medicine"

California goldrush - missionaries become "obssessed" with evangelising California


rather than the Natives
-> but still going west
bc it was a society based on accumulating wealth -> needed religion

5k "saints" had travelled to Salt Lake City


quite a lot considering the time, but not a huge expansion like California (90k)

Opening up of the trails

Astor's Fur Trading Company founded


trade between fur traders and Natives in places like Great Plains + Oregon

Oregon Trail founded by fur traders

1811 - 1840

from mid 1830s the trails were used by ~400k settlers

California trail established by fur taders

1811 - 1840

Used by travellers from 1843

about 3,000 miles (4,800 km) across the western half of the North American continent from Missouri River towns to what is now the state of California.

estimated California, Mormon, Oregon trail migrants

1849 - 1860

296,300 total
=> just a decade

Mormon trail one of the lesser ones - only 43k

The peak decade - before trans-continental railroad

Bozeman trail's most important years

1863 - 1868

connecting the gold rush territory of Montana to the Oregon Trail. (acc mining silver + copper