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Westward Expansion

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The Louisiana Purchase of 1803 started the Westward Expansion. There were many benefits from the purchase for the US that the French didn’t realize before they sold it. The purchase gave the US access to the Mississippi river which allowed for expansion of river trade to the North and South from the center of the US. The port city of New Orleans was bought by the US and its prosperity benefited the US greatly. The US sent Louis and Clark west to investigate the purchase. They were secretly told to lay claim on any and all land they come across. It was evident, after days of being lost and unable to communicate with natives, that they need an interpreter. Sacagawea, who spoke 5 tribal languages as well as French, was the answer to a safe and successful journey. Her presence signified that they were not a war party because they had a woman with them. During this time women didn’t travel in war parties. Her bearing a child further signified a peaceful trade party. Historians believe that without Sacagawea, Louis and Clark never would have been able to explore the West in the manor they did.

Before the migration, it’s estimated that Ð'Ð... million people inhabited the west. There were 200 different tribes that had to deal with tribal wars and the need to survive on a daily basis. Horses and cattle gave the natives increased mobility and hunting abilities. In the South Western US, there were two types of natives, horse riders and non horse riders. The buffalo were used for meat, skins, and the dried manure was used as fire wood. The natives became nomads because they were being pushed away from the migrants. The document Excerpt from an Overland journey from New York to San Francisco by Horace Greeley is a detailed journal of a writer who traveled west. Greeley founded The New Yorker and was one of the biggest boosters for westward travel. On his journey in 1859, he talks about the many people he meets and where they are from. He describes the native mountain men as “Indians of all grades from the tamest to the wildest, half breeds, French trappers and voyageurs and an occasional negro, compose a medley such as hardly another region can parallel. Honolulu, or some other port of the south sea islands, could probably match it most nearly.” Greeley clearly explains the natives in the West as being seen as inferior and that of a lesser being, much like the view of the people who live on the southern islands. Their skin is darker, they speak another language, and there customs are different then those of Greeley and the migrants. Greeley’s views of the natives were equal to that of most migrants an that time.

Greeley analyses the living quarters of the people in the west sees them as primitive.

The settlers in the east saw the west as a place of innovation and intelligence. The idea of moving west and starting a new life molded the people. Westward migration was synonymous with everything that is good. It took several years for the migration to pick up. From 1818 to 1860, four and a half million people migrated west. By 1825, fifty thousand people were migrating west every year. There was a nation that progress is good and industrial revolution will lead to the industrial sector expanding. David G. Vanderstel’s article Western Migration states, “Pioneers decided to migrate and to settle where they believed they would best continue their traditional ways of life and thought and still seek new opportunities and improvement of lifestyle. Several immigrant and religious groups decided to migrate and resettle together in an effort to preserve and to perpetuate their culture and beliefs with which they were accustomed and to escape the force of Americanization that accompanied contact with the American population.”

Some of the factors that led the people to leave the East were the lack of economic success, overcrowding in the cities, having large families on small farms, and the belief that urbanization and industrialization were corrupting the youth (Vanderstel). People were drawn to the West because it was scene as the last resort to make a living when all else failed in the East. Communication with friends and family who had moved west led these pioneers to believe the journey would be easy and the reward for getting west would be best. And the greatly available land was the strongest pulling factor to people interested in adventuring west. Migration was a personal choice that depended on several key factors, “Age of the head of household; economic status; personal attitudes; and projected costs



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