Following the War of1812, Americans started to feel the spirit of nationalism. Proud of what they achieved, Americans started to expand westward. This dramatic rise in expansion helped mold the American society as it separated from the Old World. This migration produced “profound effect on the nation’s economy. Likewise, the westward movement also played out in the Civil War. It brought people of diverse backgrounds to convene and associate with each other, some with favorable outcomes, others were deemed “disastrous”.
The expansion fever is indeed a major step unification of the United States. Several reasons were cited for this westward expansion: population and economic burdens, vast lands in the West, and the weakened Indian resistance making them migrate to the West. The growth of population in the East grew dramatically that people started to notice how dense the areas had become. By 1820, the population had reached 9. 6 million. The increasing population was caused either naturally or through immigration.
European immigration rapidly grew in the country, most of whom were Germans and Irish. The influx of Germans and Irish in the country was mainly due to liberal revolution that plagued Germany and potato famine that ravaged Ireland. Such migration to the country affected the population that some people started to pack up and look for a new home. Furthermore, the growing population also affected the economy of the region. The lands in the east were all occupied, with some becoming depleted already. This caused the settlers to find new agricultural lands.
Their search led them to the west. Settling in the west, they started to cultivate the lands, raise families, created communities and institutions such as schools, churches, and stores. It served as the foundation for the formation of American society. Additionally, trading started to look up for the white settlers. Mexico, which controlled Texas and California at that time, proved to be a perfect opportunity for white settlers to move eastward. Mexico opened its trade and the white settlers grabbed it.
They sold their trades at a low price and eventually were able to depose of the Mexicans and Indian traders in the area. They would also settle in the region, with some of the settlers marrying Indian and Mexican women. After the War of 1812, the federal government sought a policy that would move Indian tribes to the west. The government also created a “factor system” which provided the tribes with goods at a certain cost. This did not only help the Native Americans but also the government in transacting with them. In 1830, the Indian Removal Law was passed, which enabled the President to do land exchanges.
Five tribes exchanged their lands in the east of Mississippi for lands in the west. The years that follow saw the rise of the Industrial revolution. The outburst in transportation, communication, and technology further helped the country’s expansion. The creation of the Erie Canal paved the way for the Canal Age. The construction proved to be valuable to the nation’s economy. It facilitated faster transfer of goods for merchants. Another breakthrough was the railroad system. By 1840, railroads replaced canals and were used not just for merchandise for but migration as well.
This also contributed to the enlargement of the population of the country in the west. The settlement in the west opened up a lot of roads in the country- creation of new states, better economic opportunities, and enlarging the population of the country, which paved the way for the evolution of the American society.
Brinkley, Alan. American History A Survey 11th ed. USA: McGraw-Hill, 2003. May, Ernest and Winthrop Jordan. The American People A History to 1877. Illinois: McDougal, Littell and Company, 1989.
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