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Unit 7-6
Westward Expansion Study Guide
People to Know
John Quincy Adams, Andrew Jackson, Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, James K. Polk,
Stephen Austin, Sam Houston, William Travis, Generalisimo Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna,
John C. Calhoun, Henry Clay, Daniel Webster, Eli Whitney, Robert Fulton
Key Terms to Know
Manifest Destiny, Industrial Revolution, Monroe Doctrine, Adams-Onis Treaty, Alamo
Mexican Cession, Mormon, Trail of Tears, suffrage, urbanization, sectionalism, majority
caucus, Whig, annex, dictator, cede, vigilante, forty-niner, Worcester v Georgia
McCulloch v. Maryland and Gibbons v. Ogden
During the early 19th century, and especially after the War of 1812, American society was profoundly
transformed. These years witnessed rapid economic and territorial expansion; the extension of
democratic politics; the spread of evangelical revivalism; the rise of the nation's first labor and reform
movements; the growth of cities and industrial ways of life; radical shifts in the roles and status of
women; and deepening sectional conflicts that would bring the country to the verge of civil war.
Monroe and Adams
By 1818 Spanish control of Latin American colonies was weakening. Mexico, Central America, and areas
of South America were all struggling for independence from Spain. That year President Monroe had
Secretary of State John Quincy Adams work out a treaty to purchase Florida from Spain. In 1823
President Monroe gave a message to Congress stating that the US would not interfere in the affairs of
European nations but would oppose any attempt by European nations to regain control of any newly
independent nations in the Americas. This became known as the Monroe Doctrine.
In 1824, four Democratic Republicans ran for President. In a controversial election John Quincy
Adams defeated Andrew Jackson even though Jackson had both more popular votes and more electoral
votes. However, because Jackson was unable to achieve a majority of the vote, the House of
Representatives voted on the next President.
Jacksonian Democracy
1820 to 1840 was a time of important political developments. Suffrage increased and qualifications for
voting and office holding were changed. More citizens were given the opportunity to vote. No longer
were Americans required to be land owners in order to vote. Voter participation increased. A new twoparty system replaced the politics of deference to elites. In 1828, the dominant political figure in the
United States was Andrew Jackson. Jackson easily defeated John Quincy Adams for President in the
1828 election. During his Presidency, Jackson opened millions of acres of Indian lands to white
settlement, destroyed the Second Bank of the United States, and denied the right of a state to nullify the
federal tariff.
The Whig party was formed in 1834 as a coalition of National Republicans, Anti-Masons, and
disgruntled Democrats, who were united by their hatred of “King Andrew” Jackson and his
“usurpations” of congressional and judicial authority, came together in 1834 to form the Whig party.
The party took its name from the seventeenth-century British Whig group that had defended English
liberties against the usurpations of pro-Catholic Stuart Kings.
The Roots of American Economic Growth
After the War of 1812, the American economy grew at an astounding rate. The development of the
steamboat by Robert Fulton revolutionized water travel, as did the building of canals. The construction
of the Erie Canal stimulated an economic revolution that bound the grain basket of the West to the
eastern and southern markets. It also unleashed a spurt of canal building. Eastern cities experimented
with railroads which quickly became the chief method of moving freight. The emerging transportation
revolution greatly reduced the cost of bringing goods to market, stimulating both agriculture and
industry. The telegraph also stimulated development by improving communication. Eli Whitney
pioneered the method of production using interchangeable parts that became the foundation of the
American System of manufacture. Transportation improvements combined with market demands
stimulated cash crop cultivation.
Economic development contributed to the rapid growth of cities. Between 1820 and 1840, the urban
population of the nation increased by 60 percent each decade, five times as fast as that of the country
as a whole. Western cities grew particularly fast. Between 1810 and 1830, Louisville's population
climbed from 1,357 to 10,341. The chief cause of the increase was the migration of sons and daughters
away from farms and villages. The growth of commerce drew thousands of farm children to the cities to
work as bookkeepers, clerks, and salespeople. The expansion of factories demanded thousands of
laborers, mechanics, teamsters, and operatives.
Indian Removal
At the time Jackson took office, 125,000 Native Americans still lived east of the Mississippi River.
Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, and Creek Indians--60,000 strong--held millions of acres in what would
become the southern cotton kingdom stretching across Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi. The key
political issues were whether these Native American peoples would be permitted to block white
expansion and whether the U.S. government and its citizens would abide by previously made treaties.
As early as 1817, James Monroe declared that it was in the best interests of Native Americans to
move westward. In 1825 President Monroe set before Congress a plan to resettle all eastern Indians on
tracts in the West where whites would not be allowed to live. Jackson favored removal as the solution to
the controversy. The discovery of gold on Cherokee land triggered a land rush, and the Cherokee nation
sued to keep white settlers from encroaching on their territory. And
In the case of Worcester v. Georgia in 1832, the Supreme Court ruled that states could not pass laws
conflicting with federal Indian treaties and that the federal government had an obligation to exclude
white intruders from Indian lands. Angered, Jackson is said to have exclaimed: “John Marshall has made
his decision; now let him enforce it.”
Trail of Tears
During the winter of 1831, the Choctaw became the first tribe to walk the “Trail of Tears” westward.
Malnutrition, exposure, and a cholera epidemic killed many members of the nation. Then, in 1836, the
Creek suffered the hardships of removal. About 3,500 of the tribe’s 15,000 members died along the
westward trek. Those who resisted removal were bound in chains and marched in double file.
Most Cherokees held out until 1838, when the army evicted them from their land. All told, 4,000 of the
15,000 Cherokee died along the trail to Indian Territory in what is now Oklahoma.
Westward Expansion
Until 1821, Spain ruled the area that now includes Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico,
Texas, and Utah. The Mexican war for independence opened the region to American economic
penetration. Government explorers, traders, and trappers helped to open the West to white settlement.
In the 1820s, thousands of Americans moved into Texas, and during the 1840s, thousands of pioneers
headed westward toward Oregon and California, seeking land and inspired by manifest destiny, the idea
that America had a special destiny to stretch across the continent. During the presidency of James K.
Polk ( 1845 and 1849) the United States expanded its boundaries into Texas, the Southwest, and the
Pacific Northwest. It acquired Texas by annexation; Oregon and Washington by negotiation with Britain;
and Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, and Wyoming as a result
of war with Mexico.
The Mexican War
In early 1845, when Congress voted to annex Texas, Mexico expelled the American ambassador and cut
diplomatic relations. The war's critics claimed that Polk deliberately provoked Mexico into war by
ordering American troops into disputed territory. Other critics also argued that the war was an
expansionist power play dictated by an aggressive Southern slave owners intent on acquiring more slave
After their defeat, Mexico ceded California, Nevada, Utah, New Mexico, and parts of Arizona, Colorado,
Kansas, and Wyoming to the United States for $15 million and the assumption of $3.25 million in debts
owed to Americans by Mexico. The treaty also settled the Texas border dispute in favor of the United
States, placing the Texas-Mexico boundary at the Rio Grande River.