The Louisiana Purchase and the Westward Expansion

During the Louisiana Purchase

During 1803, President Jefferson bought a territory in Louisiana from the French government at a price of fifteen million dollars (Brands et al.). The purchase stretched from the Mississippi River to the Rocky Mountains and from Canada to New Orleans thus doubling the size of the US. According to Jefferson, Westward expansion was crucial for the nation's well-being. He believed that the state was dependent on a virtuous citizenry for its growing and that independence and virtue got associated with land ownership. To accommodate and sustain the growing population, America was to continue with its expansion ambitions. With regards to that, the event is one of the defining moment in American history. On the other hand, the impacts were on the verge of destroying the nation despite the positive outcomes.

Expansion Towards the West

The boundary of America in 1787 during the period of the British colonies was around Allegheny mountains to the West, the Atlantic Ocean to the South and East occupying the eastern part of the North American continent and St. Lawrence to the North (Brands et al.). On the Western side, there were vast miles of open fertile land inhabited by the indigenous people and Spanish Mexicans. The frontier between the settled areas to the West was further pushed and bought, taken and explored by the American administration. The first wave occupied the land located along the Mississippi River after the Louisiana purchase. The second wave settled along Mississippi to California.

Factors Leading to Migration

During the period, there were no significant railroads that went westwards. The journeys were long and dangerous plus the people faced confrontation from the Native Americans. Some of the factors that contributed to the migration were the Manifest Destiny, the discovery of gold in California, the Transcontinental railroad, the Homestead Act of 1862 and the American dream (Brands et al.). In the west, there were numerous opportunities for earning a living such as logging, farming, and mining that were possible due to the vast land which was cheap. Advanced transportation systems and existent ideologies shaped their perceptions that strengthened their patriotic responsibility.

The West as a Vast Untapped Frontier

The west was a vast untapped frontier. Americans believed that it was their God-given responsibility to conquer Western territories and unify the country. The Homestead Act was responsible for triggering the movement towards the west. The Act permitted settlers to acquire federal land and improve on it which attracted a fee that made it possible for the processing of the title deed. The boom became inundated with people looking to get rich quickly. It led to the establishment of small mining towns throughout the western side. Most of the cities came into existence due to the discovery of gold. When the prospects were at their highest level, the towns prospered but eventually became fruitless with the depletion of the mines. The areas became filthy in addition to the rising of social challenges due to the failure of people to realize their dreams.

Effects of the Expansion

The expansion had significant effects with regards to numerous societal aspects. One is the arising of slavery. The Missouri Compromise attempted to solve the issue of slavery but never applied to new territories included in the Louisiana purchase thus facilitating its progress (Brands et al.). The Southern economy growth depended on cotton sustained by forced labor. Meanwhile, the Northerners came to realize that slavery infringed on their liberty. They were not against it but resented the manner in which its expansion impacted their economic opportunity. Despite encountering conflicts, the American progressed with their migration. Following the adoption of the Missouri Compromise. Thousands of people crossed to Mexican regions of Texas and California. In the year 1837, American settlers in Texas united with those of Tejano which led to the acquiring of their independence (Brands et al.). The situation promised to upset the balance that Missouri Compromise brought about. The annexation of Texas plus other areas became a political urgency until James Polk became the president. In the same year, Polk declared a false war on Mexico based on claims that they invaded their borders. The conflict was mostly unpopular, and Wilmot came up with a war appropriation bill. It declared an end to slavery on Mexican territories that America was to acquire.

Positive Outcomes of the Expansion

Due to the industrialization, the animal population in the areas got depleted. An example is a buffalo. The land went from untouched to being developed for human settlement. All the grass got grazed and the water reservoirs contaminated. The movement of the settlers and the government was as a fulfillment of the Manifest Destiny. The three themes guiding the belief were the special virtues of the American people and their institutions, the mission of US to redeem the Western image of agrarian America and the irresistible destiny to accomplish the task. Continentalism was a belief used to depict that America would encompass entire North America. Adams actively participated in orchestrating the idea through the formation of the Treaty of 1818 that established the Canada-US border (Brands et al.). He also negotiated the Transcontinental Treaty in addition to the Monroe doctrine of 1823.

War and Perceived Enemies

War images were used to depict the situation with the aim of causing anxiety and averting raids from the natives. An example is the war of 1812 which America threatened to annex British Canada to stop Indian attacks in the Midwest, gain additional land and eject Britain from North America (Brands et al.). During the unfolding of the events, the minority ethnicities were significantly disadvantaged. The Native Americans, Hispanics, Chinese, and Africans were portrayed as enemies. The whites were made to perceive and view them as enemies and hindrances to the achievement of their objectives. They were competitors who aimed at denying the immigrants access to opportunities thus there was a need to eliminate them. Besides that, the minorities were a crucial source of labor that would ensure the prosperity of the industrialization period. Since there was an exponential growth in the economy, it was essential for the availability of a reliable workforce to handle the circumstance.

Positive Impact of Expansion

Concerning the expansion, it was to a large extent positive. It is because it led to the increase of America's territorial boundaries by a large scale. If it were not for the Louisiana purchase and other conquests, America would be two-thirds smaller its current size (Brands et al.). The economy also thrived as a result of industrialization. The railway and other transportation advancements created job opportunities besides the mining sector. Cities became less crowded as there was population distribution thus easing the pressure on resources. What is more, there was more farmland to grow food and opportunities to trade off the west coast increased leading to a boost in commerce.

Impact on American Ideology

Numerous historical events interacted to shape the American ideology that emphasizes on sharing a commitment to a set of values. Some of them include democracy, civic solidarity, and ethnic identity. Nonetheless, there seems to be a change in the ideologies brought about by the dynamics of the society. The issue of identity seems to have faded away as people are judged based on their racial affiliation. There is the existence of bias and prejudice. Furthermore, the issue of democracy is under threat evident from the intrusion of people's rights and liberties.


In conclusion, the Western advancement was a crucial historical period. It significantly influenced the formation of the current American society and creation of an identity.

Work Cited

Brands, H. William, et al. American stories: A history of the United States. Vol. 2. Pearson Higher Ed, 2014.

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