What Made the Americans Expand Westward?

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After the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, a large amount of land west of the

original 13 states and the Northwest Territory was acquired. The open land,

additional benefits and other existing problems encouraged Americans to

expand westward. The American people began to realize that the future of

the country lay in the development of its own western resources. There were

many reasons that made the people face the grueling and dangerous movement

west, but the primary reason was economy.

"Like the Spanish conquistadors before them, the Americans looked beyond

the Mississippi, they saw an open beckoning. Despite the presence of

hundreds of Indian nations with rich and distinct cultures, who had populated

the land for thousands of years-from the desert of the Southwest and the

grassy prairies of the Great Plains to the high valleys of the Rocky

Mountains and the salty beaches of the Pacific Coast-Americans considered the

west to be an empty wilderness. And in less than fifty years, from the 1803

purchase of Louisiana Territory to the California gold rush of 1849, the

nation would expand and conquer the West" (Herb 3).

The ocean had always controlled New England's interests and connected it

with the real world. Puritanism was still very strong in the north so the

moral unity of New England was exceptional. Having a very unmixed population

of English origin, New England contrasted very much with the other sections.

All this and the fact that they needed to cross populated states in order to

expand west set this section part from the others (Leuetenburg and Wishy 37).

New England's population compared to other regions was poor, and the

population growth was even poorer. The trans-Alleghany States by 1820 had a

population of about 2.25 million, while New England had over 1.5 million.

Ten years later, western states had over 3.5 million with the people

northwest of the Ohio River alone numbering 1.5 million.

"In 1820 the total population of New England was about to equal to the

combined population of New York and New Jersey; but its increase between 1820

and 1830 was hardly three hundred thousand, not much over half that of New

York, and less that of gain of Ohio. If Maine, the growing state of the

group, be excluded, the increase of the whole section was less that of the

frontier state of Indiana"(Turner 41)

Fortunately, new manufactures help save New England from becoming an

entirely stationary section (Turner 12). New England's shipping industry

became very strong because it had control of neutral trade during the

European wars. "Of the exports of the United States in 1820, the statistics

gave to New England about twenty percent, nine-tenths of which were from

Massachusetts"(Turner 11).

Then in a short period of time, the section witnessed a transfer of the

industrial center of gravity from the harbors to the waterfalls, from the

commerce and navigation to manufacturers (Turner 13). "Water power became

the sites of factory towns, and the industrial revolution which, in the time

of the embargo, began to transfer industries from the household to the

factory, was rapidly carried on"(Turner 14). A new class began to develop.

Farmers moved into towns, and their daughters began to work in mills.

Agriculture, though still very important to many New England people,

became a declining interest. "By 1830 New England was importing corn and

flour in large quantities from other sections. The raising of cattle and

sheep increased as grain cultivation declined"(Turner 46). With the cattle

and sheep raising becoming more popular, it encouraged emigration from New

England because it decreased the number of small farms. "By the sale of

their lands to wealthier neighbors, the New England farmers were able to go...
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