The Federal Government Promoted Westward Expansion in a Variety of Ways

During the 1800s, the federal government promoted westward expansion in a variety of ways. This expansion changed the shape and character of the country. The promotion of westward expansion was also known as the Manifest Destiny, which believed that the United States should expand their territory to the Pacific Ocean. An example of an action that the government took that led to westward expansion was supporting the creation of the Transcontinental Railroad.

The creation of the Transcontinental Railroad opened the way to Westward expansion. It showed people that it was easy to move westward. It proved to be a fast means of transportation between the East and West (Doc. 7). Also, it allowed for great communication between the two coasts. Railroad companies were granted land to build their railroads on. Railroad companies would also help sell land that the government was not able to sell. With the excess land they have, railroad companies could sell that land to settlers moving westward. Settlers would purchase this land because they now have a good means of transportation from the east coast to the west coast. Also, with the introduction of the Homestead Act of 1862, settlers were able to buy land for $1.25 per acre or claim land which would be free after 5 years (Doc 6). With this Act in effect, along with the creation of railroads, settlers quickly bought the land the government could not previously sell. Farmers were the first to settle westward. With the abundance of cheap land, and that railroads could be used as a supply route to the east coast, farmers immediately moved westward. However, there were people occupying the western lands before Americans, known as the Native Americans. By the orders of President Andrew Jackson, and the passing of the Indian Removal Act, Native Americans were forced to move more westward (Doc. 2). The Native Americans were sent on the Trail of Tears. Many Natives died on this trail due to harsh conditions or getting sick. After reaching their destination, Natives were sent to reservations owned by the government. These reservations were supposed to protect Natives and their people but did not end successfully.

There were many impacts of expanding the United States westward. With expanding westward, the United States was faced with the problem of the expansion of slavery. With new states being created, debates came up of whether these new states should be considered free or slave states. In 1858, the Kansas-Nebraska Act was passed which introduced the idea of popular sovereignty (Doc. 5). This allowed for the people of the new state to vote on whether they support slavery in their state. Many people from the North and South moved westward to these new states to spread their beliefs about slavery to this state. This caused many disputes between both pro and anti-slavery groups. This led to Bleeding Kansas which saw many violent confrontations between pro and anti-slavery groups fighting over their opinion of slavery. Another impact of the United States expanding its territory westward was the taking of Native American land according to Chief Washakie(Doc. 8). “White Men,” also known as Americans took land from the Native Americans and sent them on the Trail of Tears where many died off. Natives were forced onto tiny reservations made to protect them.

During the 1800’s, the federal government promoted westward expansion in a variety of ways. This expansion changed the shape and character of the country. This belief was also known as the Manifest Destiny, which the primary goal was to expand the United States to the Pacific Ocean. An example of an action the government took to expand the nation westward was the support of the creation of the Transcontinental Railroad.