Geographic and Environmental Influences of U.S. Expansion
The two most significant environmental and geographical factors that contributed to the expansion of the United States (US) were the California Gold Rush and the Irish Potato famine. The gold rush created a movement of people to Northern California, specifically to the area around San Francisco and Sacramento from all over the United States (Udall & Emmons, 2003). In addition, migration was not limited to US fortune seekers but triggered a worldwide migration. The Chinese migration was particularly large. In fact, the migration was so large that in 1850 legislation was passed to assess fees to foreign miners. The prospectors mostly in their twenties came over land and by boat. Most had come to San Francisco to buy equipment and supplies. San Francisco developed from a small agricultural town of 600 people in 1848 to a city of more than 30,000 people by 1850 (Udall & Emmons, 2003, p. 133). Following the migration of miners was the businessman hoping to make a profit off the miners by selling supplies and equipment. Collis P. Huntington collected his fortune from selling mining equipment to the miners. Ten years later he was instrumental in bringing the railroad to San Francisco. Women also flowed into the northern California area so they could be together as a family and with the lure of higher wages, women opened boarding houses, cooked meals, sewing and worked in bordellos (Udall & Emmons, 2003). The fast growth of San Francisco had turned the cities almost nonexistent port into a major shipping port in just three years. This new port opened the door for world trade, and solidified economic opportunities for the pacific coast. Between 1849 and 1851 northern California saw an influx of 200,000 people (Udall & Emmons, 2003, p. 132) and reached 350,000 by 1860 (Udall & Emmons, 2003, p. 127). Sacramento, a farming settlement of four houses in April 1849 had attracted 10,000...
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