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
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...
Cited: Leuehtenburg, William E., and Bernard Wishy, eds Fronteir and Section.
Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc, 1961.
Turner, Fredrick Jackson. The Frontier in American History. New York: Holt,
Tinehart, and Winston Inc., 1962
Turner, Fredrick Jackson. Rise of the New West. New york: Harper and
Brothers Publishers, 1966.
Turner, Fredrick Jackson. The United States 1830-1850. New York: W.W.
Norton & Company Inc., 1965.
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