The Effects of Westward Expansion
A powerful country always has an eventful history and a lot of sacrifices which led it to success. In the way of becoming one of the most powerful states of the world, America went through some significant changes and wonderful rearrangements. The 19th century was especially rich in events, important geographic, economic and social changes for the American settlers. The Westward Expansion was a period of establishment the country’s new boundaries, strengthening of the national spirit and implementing new ideas in order to improve economics, social sector, culture and others spheres of life.
Between 1801 and 1861, America underwent the vast territorial expansion, which resulted in the settlement over the large part of the continent. Prior to the Civil War, the process of industrialization was mostly concentrated on the North (Lawson&Seidman 21). Then one of the most significant deals in the world history initiated the so-called Westward Expansion. It was the Louisiana Purchase. Acquired from France, this land doubled the size of the United States territory. This purchase had a huge response in economics and geography of the country. The Louisiana Purchase gave people the opportunity and motivation to spread all over and settle the American land, improve the demography statistics and develop the agriculture. The availability of the cheap and fertile land was one of the winning factors affecting the mass expansion to the West (Thompson 43). In this way, the mission for continental expansion started. After the Louisiana Purchase, Spain gave the United States Florida on the agreement. After that Texas was added and the part of the Oregon territory, which was divided between the US and Great Britain. Finally, owing to the Mexican War, California and some southwest lands also became part of the United States.
Serious geographical changes resulted in new economic opportunities. California Gold Rush, possibility of logging and farming on the south territories accelerated the process of the expansion. The usage of the overland trails through Oregon and California facilitated considerably the migration of the farm families to the South.
The period of the Westward Expansion was the time when the idea of the American exceptionalism was born. The belief in the superiority of the Anglo-Saxon race and extraordinary virtues of the native Americans convinced the US population of its special destiny of expanding throughout the continent. The idea of remaking the west and recreating the image of America became the common mission (Mountjoy 56). This was the new line of policy which had to lead the country to the confident and secure future.
Going through this evolution, the society could not stay unchangeable. The changes in the social sphere were truly considerable. The citizens turned to be very concerned about their civil rights. Even though the slavery was not abolished till 1865, the preconditions for it were already created. The Abolitionist Movement demanded the immediate liberation of slaves. The activists considered the idea of slavery morally wrong, cruel and inhuman. They also took it as the violation of the democracy principles. The question of the suffrage right for women emerged for the first time in the Westward Expansion period. The members of this Movement declared women equal to men and demanded to give them their rights that they were deprived of. It included the possibility of voting, obtaining higher education and owning property. These requests were not fulfilled until the end of the Civil War, but the background was very solid.
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Having analyzed a lot of information concerning the Westward Expansion, one can insist that it was a significant period in the history of America. It brought a lot of changes in different spheres including politics, economy and social life and made its important contribution into the USA development.