What Made The Americans Expand Westward? WHAT MADE THE AMERICANS EXPAND WESTWARD? After the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, a large amount of land west of the original 13 states and the Northwest Territory was acquired.
The open land, additional benefits and other existing problems encouraged Americans to expand westward. The American people began to realize that the future of the country lay in the development of its own western resources. There were many reasons that made the people face the grueling and dangerous movement west, but the primary reason was economy. “Like the Spanish conquistadors before them, the Americans looked beyond the Mississippi, they saw an open beckoning. Despite the presence of hundreds of Indian nations with rich and distinct cultures, who had populated the land for thousands of years – from the desert of the Southwest and the grassy prairies of the Great Plains to the high valleys of the Rocky Mountains and the salty beaches of the Pacific Coast – Americans considered the west to be an empty wilderness.
And in less than fifty years, from the 1803 purchase of Louisiana Territory to the California gold rush of 1849, the nation would expand and conquer the West” (Herb 3). The ocean had always controlled New England’s interests and connected it with the real world. Puritanism was still very strong in the north so the moral unity of New England was exceptional. Having a very unmixed population of English origin, New England contrasted very much with the other sections. All this and the fact that they needed to cross populated states in order to expand west set this section part from the others (Leuetenburg and Wishy 37). New England’s population compared to other regions was poor, and the population growth was even poorer.
The trans-Alleghany States by 1820 had a population of about 2.25 million, while New England had over 1.5 million. Ten years later, western states had over 3.5 million with the people northwest of the Ohio River alone numbering 1.5 million. “In 1820 the total population of New England was about to equal to the combined population of New York and New Jersey; but its increase between 1820 and 1830 was hardly three hundred thousand, not much over half that of New York, and less that of gain of Ohio. If Maine, the growing state of the group, be excluded, the increase of the whole section was less that of the frontier state of Indiana”(Turner 41) Fortunately, new manufactures help save New England from becoming an entirely stationary section (Turner 12). New England’s shipping industry became very strong because it had control of neutral trade during the European wars. “Of the exports of the United States in 1820, the statistics gave to New England about twenty percent, nine-tenths of which were from Massachusetts”(Turner 11).
Then in a short period of time, the section witnessed a transfer of the industrial center of gravity from the harbors to the waterfalls, from the commerce and navigation to manufacturers (Turner 13). “Water power became the sites of factory towns, and the industrial revolution which, in the time of the embargo, began to transfer industries from the household to the factory, was rapidly carried on”(Turner 14). A new class began to develop. Farmers moved into towns, and their daughters began to work in mills. Agriculture, though still very important to many New England people, became a declining interest.
“By 1830 New England was importing corn and flour in large quantities from other sections. The raising of cattle and sheep increased as grain cultivation declined”(Turner 46). With the cattle and sheep raising becoming more popular, it encouraged emigration from New England because it decreased the number of small farms. “By the sale of their lands to wealthier neighbors, the New England farmers were able to go west with money to invest”(Turner 15). The Middle Region, which included New York, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey, was a transition zone. It connected the north along with the south and the east with the west.
“Geographically, they (the states) lay on the line of natural routes between the Atlantic on the one side, and the Ohio and the Great Lakes on the other”(Turner 10). Compared to New England, this section was rapidly growing region. By 1830, New York had already equaled the total population of entire New England combined. Eventually, New York and Pennsylvania would become the most populous states in the union. About a decade before 1820, Western New York had showed frontier like conditions.
“The settlers (from New England) felled and burned the forest, built little towns, and erected mills, and now, with a surplus of agricultural products, they were suffering from the lack of a market and were demanding transportation facilities”(Leuehtenburg and Wishy 40). With the already existing routes being unreliable and expensive, “there was a growing demand for canals .. “(Turner 32). The Erie and Champlain canals were the result of these demands. De Witt Clinton saw the economic revolution, which the Erie Canal would bring.
He presented to the legislature the reason that made it practical and the financial plan that made it possible. He showed them the vision of the Hudson River, “not only reaching to the western confines of the state, but even, by its connection with Lake Erie, stretching through two thousand miles of navigable lakes and rivers to the very heart of the interior of the United States”(Turner 32). To him, the Erie Canal was a political as well as an economic undertaking: “As a bond of union between the Atlantic and western states, it may prevent the dismemberment of the American Empire. As an organ of communication between the Hudson, the Mississippi, the St. Lawrence, the great lakes of the north and west, and their tributary rivers, it will create the greatest inland trade ever witnessed”(Turner 32-33). By 1825, the great canal system opened.
With the decrease in transportation charges, it brought, “prosperity and a tide of population into western New York”(Turner 34). This led to movement west. ” .. villages sprang up along the whole like of canal; the water-power was utilized for manufactures .. “(Turner 35). “The Great Lakes navigation grew steadily, the Western Reserve increased its population, and the harbor of Cleveland became a center of trade”(Turner 35).
With all the increased population, real estate value rose. New York became the metropolis of the north. Values of imports rose. They eventually became leader …