Western Expansion

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by pinel
Last updated 5 years ago

Social Studies
American History

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Western Expansion

Manifest Destiny




The idea of manifest destiny was a major cause fore western expansion. Manifest destiny was the belief that America’s fate was to expand to the Pacific Ocean and spread democracy. The term manifest destiny was first coined by writer John O’Sullivan who wrote that it was America’s “manifest destiny to overspread and to possess the whole continent which Providence [God] has given us for the development of the great experiment of liberty…” President, James K. Polk, who had won the election of 1844, was impacted by manifest destiny. Polk promised to annex (add / incorporate) both Texas and Oregon to the Union. In a treaty with Britain in 1846 the United States gained all Oregon land south of the 49th parallel. This completed the present-day border between the United States and Canada. Later, in 1845 the United States annexed Texas.

Since the Texas Revolution, the border between Mexico and Texas had been in dispute. This dispute over the border and America's desire for California, was another main cause of western expaniosn. Mexico claimed the border lay along the Nueces River while the United States claimed the Rio Grande as the border. In 1845 President Polk sent troops to the Rio Grande – a disputed area.

The Mexican-American War was one of the effects of western expansion. The US had long coveted Califorina and a more broad border of Texas. Much of the war was fought in Mexico and California – which the U.S. coveted. U.S. troops easily pushed into Mexico, winning victories and finally capturing Mexico City – bringing the war to an eventual end. One of the more famous events of the war was a local revolt against the Californios near the town of Sonoma, California, known as the Bear Flag Revolt. The Bear Flag Revolt is famous because it is seen as the moment when California was proclaimed as an independent republic.

The devestation of many Native American cultures and the buffalo was another effect of western expansion. Plains Indians were sent to reservations and the buffalo were hunted down to near extinction.


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