Westward Expansion

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by AmyWallace4th
Last updated 6 years ago

Social Studies
American History

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Westward Expansion

Westward Expansion

After the American Revolution, the United States decided to expand their territory westward. This timeline describes the events that occured and the motivations behind the movement.

Time Line


End of American Revolution

Louisiana purchase The U.S. was growing after the Revolutionary War. People wanted land to plant crops and raise livestock. As the Northwest lands became crowded, people needed more land and the obvious place to expand was to the west. Thomas Jefferson bought the land from Napoleon in France for 15 million dollars in 1803. It was 828,000 square miles.This became 15 different states. It doubled the size of the United States and made it a major world nation.

Your text hereLouis and Clarke Lewis and Clark were asked by President Thomas Jefferson to explore and map the new Louisana Purchase. They traveled to the Pacific Ocean and back. Lewis and Clark, and 40 men started in the city of St. Louis on May 14, 1804. They packed rifles, food, and warm clothing. They brought lots of glass beads and trinkets so they could trade with Indians along the way. They started out traveling up the Missouri River. Lewis and Clark met many Native American tribes along the way. They met a fur trapper named Toussaint Charbonneau and his Shoshone wife, Sacagawea. Sacagawea joined the expedition as an interpreter. She helped the expedition in many ways as they traveled, including showing them edible plants and helping to keep peace and trade with different tribes. Without help from the Native American tribes as well as Sacagawea, the expedition would have surely failed.

Gold Rush The California Gold Rush took place between 1848 and 1855. During this time gold was discovered in California. Over 300,000 people rushed to California to find gold and "strike it rich". Before the gold rush, there were only around 14,000 non-Native Americans living in California. This soon changed. Around 6,000 people arrived in 1848 and in 1849 around 90,000 people arrived to hunt for gold. These people were called the Forty-niners.

It was in November in 1805, around a year and a half after leaving St. Louis, that they finally reached the Pacific Ocean. They stayed that winter near the ocean and started home again in March of 1806. It only took them around six months for the return journey.

The explorers helped many people feel that the trip was doable and this encouraged the expansion. Before the trip, many Americans were afraid of "Indian" encounters. The trip helped to create a peaceful relationship with most of the Native Americans.

New territories added to the United States after 1801Louisiana PurchaseJefferson bought land from France (the Louisiana Purchase), which doubled the size of the United States.


Louisana Purchase


Start of the Journey of Lewis, Clark, and Sacagawea



Lewis, Clark, and Sacagawea return from their journey

Gold Rush begins

SS4H6 The student will explain westward expansion of America between 1801 and 1861. a. Describe territorial expansion with emphasis on the Louisiana Purchase, the Lewis and Clark expedition, and the acquisitions of Texas (the Alamo and independence), Oregon (Oregon Trail), and California (Gold Rush and the development of mining towns).


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