Westward Expansion and Conflict

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1 Westward Expansion and Conflict When the United States won its independence from Great Britain at the end of the Revolutionary War in 1783, the country nearly doubled in size. After 1783, the United States continued to expand westward, gaining new land from European nations, neighboring countries (such as Mexico) and Native American tribes. This westward expansion was achieved through land purchases, wars and treaties, and the forced removal of Native American tribes from the lands they had occupied for generations. Americans were driven westward for several reasons, one of the most significant being manifest destiny. Manifest destiny was the widely held belief that it was not only the destiny, but the God given right, for American settlers to expand across the continent, from sea to shining sea.

2 The United States after achieving independence from Britain, 1783 Although British hopes of winning the Revolutionary War ended in 1781 with their defeat at Yorktown, nearly two years passed before the United States and Britain signed the Treaty of Paris and officially ended the war in The peace process was complicated because multiple countries were involved and Britain s King George III did not want to grant Americans their independence. However, Americans insisted that independence for the colonies needed to be included in the treaty The Treaty of Paris was finally ratified in September 1783, and it was a great victory for the Americans. The treaty not only recognized the United States of America as an independent nation, but also established boundaries that extended far to the west of the 13 original colonies. The new country would be bounded by the Atlantic Ocean on the east the Mississippi River on the west, Florida on the south, and Canada and the Great Lakes on the north. Spain retained control of Florida, and the United States was allowed to use the Mississippi River. As the map shows, much of the land granted to the United States in the treaty did not belong to any of the 13 original states. For a time, some of the original states tried to claim these new lands as their own. For instance, New York tried to claim lands that included present-day Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. North Carolina tried to claim portions of what is now Tennessee, while Virginia tried to claim land that is now part of Michigan.

3 Louisiana Purchase, 1803 Stretching from the Mississippi River to the Rocky Mountains and from the Gulf of Mexico to the Canadian border, the enormous Louisiana territory was originally settled by the French in the early 18th century. In 1802, France stopped allowing U.S. merchants to use the city of New Orleans, an important commercial city located at the base of the Mississippi River, to ship their goods. President Thomas Jefferson was concerned about this situation and sent delegates to France to negotiate a deal. Jefferson and the delegates hoped to purchase a small amount of the territory possibly a section as small as just the eastern half of New Orleans so that American merchants could continue to use the city to transport their goods. However, as the delegates arrived in Paris, France was on the brink of war with Britain and was already fighting a losing battle against a slave uprising in their Caribbean colony of Haiti. Unable to send enough troops to defend their claims in North America, France decided to make the Americans a surprising offer. Jefferson s delegates were astonished when the French minister offered to sell America all 828,000 square miles of the Louisiana territory for the price of $15 million. The Americans jumped at the offer, and on April 30, 1803, the deal was finalized. The Louisiana Purchase doubled the size of the country at a cost of approximately four cents an acre. It was met with overwhelming approval by Americans, who were eager to expand the borders of their new country. Thirteen states, among them Louisiana, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota, Colorado and Nebraska, later developed either entirely or partly from the land gained by the purchase.

4 Florida, 1819 After the American Revolution, Florida was Spanish territory. However, the exact location of the border between the United States and Spanish territory remained an issue of disagreement between the two countries. The United States gained control of Florida in small steps. Americans had long settled in the territory, and throughout the early years of the 19th century American settlers in Florida periodically rebelled against Spanish authorities, sometimes with the support of American officials. Also, American officials justified increasing U.S. control in Florida because the region was a safe haven for runaway slaves and Native Americans who were hostile towards Americans In 1814 and then again in , future American president Andrew Jackson led a frontier army in defeating and removing various Native American tribes from the region, even as Spain remained in control officially. At this point, the United States and Spain had to either fight or negotiate over which country would keep possession of Florida. At the time, Spain was dealing with serious problems with its other colonies. So, neither side wanted war, and in 1819, the two countries signed the Adam-Onís Treaty. The treaty, named after Secretary of State John Quincy Adams and Spanish minister Louis de Onís, granted Florida to the United States. In exchange, the United States agreed to pay up to $5 million in damages to Americans who had claims against Spain and to forfeit any claims to Texas.

5 Texas Annexation, 1845 The Spanish were the first to colonize the states that today make up the American southwest, including the state of Texas. In the early 19th century, Spain decided to allow some Americans to settle in Texas. In 1821 Moses Austin was granted permission by Spain to lead 300 American families and create a new settlement there. After his death, his son Stephen Austin took over the plan and was granted permission this time from the newly independent Mexican government to go ahead with the settlement. By 1835, approximately 20,000 American, Mexican, and European settlers had arrived in Texas, bringing with them an additional 4,000 slaves. The Mexican government attempted to limit the flow of American immigrants into Texas, but it was unsuccessful. In 1835, fighting broke out between the Mexican Army and Anglo-American colonists who were angry with the Mexican government for attempting to limit the practice of slavery and for violating the Mexican constitution. In 1836, the colonists declared Texas an independent state, called the Republic of Texas. After a Texan victory at the Battle of San Jacinto later that year, fighting stopped. However, the Mexican government never recognized Texan independence. Texas remained it s own country for nine years, but it was under constant threat of a Mexican invasion and it did not have enough money to have an effective economy. In 1845, the Republic of Texas asked to become a part of the United States, and after some debate, the government of the United States agreed to annex Texas. Mexican leaders had long warned the United States that if it tried to make Texas a U.S. state, it would declare war. And, almost immediately after Texas joined the United States, the U.S. and Mexico went to war about where the real border for the state of Texas should be. The Republic of Texas included the present-day state of Texas as well as portions of New Mexico, Kansas, Colorado, and Wyoming.

6 Oregon Country, 1846 Oregon Country was a portion of land between the Pacific Ocean and the Rocky Mountains in the northwest part of the present-day United States. In 1818, the United States and Britain agreed to a "joint occupation" of Oregon, allowing citizens of both countries to settle there. Over the next several decades, American and British settlers came to Oregon for different reasons. The British came mostly for the fur trade, while Americans came on the Oregon Trail to be missionaries or to start farms or larger settlements. By the 1840s, Americans outnumbered their British compatriots, and the fur trade was no longer as profitable as it had once been. Many Americans wanted to end the joint occupation and control Oregon on their own. Finding themselves in a weakened position, the British agreed to negotiate. Negotiations between the United States and Britain over the Oregon Country began in the summer of Because any states that would eventually be formed out of the territory would be free states, anti-slavery Northerners were strongly in favor of gaining as much of the territory as possible, even if that meant war with Britain. However, pro-slavery Southern Congressmen made it clear that they would not support a war with Britain over the Oregon territory. Britain did not want to go to war over the territory either, and in 1846, the two countries reached an agreement to split the territory. Oregon Country would later become the modern-day states of Oregon, Washington, and Idaho, as well as portions of Montana and Wyoming.

7 Mexican Cession, 1848 Almost immediately after Texas joined the United States in 1846, a boundary dispute broke out between the United States and Mexico, the country Texas had won its independence from a nine years earlier. The U.S. said the southern boundary of the state should be the Rio Grande, which was farther south than the original boundary set by the Nueces River. Fighting broke out on April 25, 1846, after the U.S. cavalry ignored an order from the Mexican army to retreat to the Nueces River and instead advanced south to the Rio Grande. Three weeks later, Congress declared war on Mexico. Fighting continued for more than a year, and ended in September In February 1848, the two countries signed the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo. The treaty recognized Texas as a U.S. state, and gave up a large chunk of Mexican land (about half of all of Mexico s territory) to the United States for $15 million. The Mexican Cession included land that would later become California, Nevada, and Utah, as well as portions of Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, and Wyoming. The treaty also stated that Mexicans who remained in the state would be allowed to become U. S. citizens, but that they would be allowed to keep their property. However, the treaty was never fully honored. In the decades following the signing of the treaty, Mexican-Americans were stripped of nearly 20 million acres of their own land by American businessmen, ranchers and railroad companies, as well as by the U.S. Department of the Interior and Department of Agriculture.

8 Gadsden Purchase, 1853 The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo had not really clarified the exact U.S.-Mexico boundary, and following the Mexican-American War, the two countries continued to disagree over the border. The new territory granted to the U.S. by the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo encouraged the development of the west. Soon, there were rival plans to build railroads to the west coast. One of these plans for a rail line went through disputed Mexican territory south of the Gila River. In 1853 President Franklin Pierce sent James Gadsden to negotiate with Mexico. Gadsden was president of the South Carolina Railroad and a former military officer who had been involved in the forced removal of Seminole Indians in Florida. The Mexican government was in desperate need of money, and it agreed to sell a small strip of land along the U.S.-Mexico border to the United States for $10 million. The railroad project was delayed by the Civil War, but eventually the Southern Pacific Railroad built a line to California that crossed the territory, connecting the east with the west. The Gadsden Purchase included land in present-day Arizona and New Mexico.

9 Alaska, 1867 Russian explorers first reached the land that would eventually become Alaska in the 17th century. For several centuries, Russia continued to control the territory, until the mid 19th century, when Russia did not believe it could defend the territory in a war with Britain. (Britain had shown interest in adding Alaska to its territory in present-day Canada.) Although the Russian government did not want to lose Alaska, it thought that it would be better to receive compensation for the territory from an ally than lose it in battle to an enemy. In 1867 Russia negotiated with the United States, who agreed to purchase Alaska for $7.2 million about two cents per acre. At the time, the purchase was widely unpopular among Americans. Critics of the purchase argued it was ridiculous to purchase land so far away from the rest of the United States. They even referred to it as President Andrew Johnson s polar bear garden. However, these critics quickly changed their mind when gold was discovered in Alaska in the 1890s.

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