Chapter 13: Westward Expansion and Manifest Destiny, 1841-1848 1

Chapter 13: Westward Expansion and Manifest Destiny, 1841-1848 1

Chapter 13: Westward Expansion and Manifest Destiny, 1841-1848 1


Westward Expansion and Manifest Destiny, 1841-1848

Learning Objectives

After you read and analyze this chapter, you should be able to:

1.Explain why Americans moved westward between 1820 and 1848.

2.Examine the constraints in the West that forced people to adapt and explain the cultural outcomes.

3.Analyze the effects of westward expansion on domestic politics and on the United States’ relations with other nations.

4.Demonstrate how and why the war with Mexico contributed to growing sectional division within the United States.

Chapter Outline

I.The Complicated World of the West

A.Western Myths and Realities

1.Many Americans were convinced that most of the West was a vast wasteland, inhospitable to human habitation.

2.Others were certain it was full of promise.

3.Realities in the Far West were much more complex than myths suggest.

a)For thousands of years, various Indian groups had extracted a rich living from the many different environments in the Far West.

b)With the arrival of Spanish, French, Russians, and other Europeans, the already complex world of interrelations in the West became even more complicated.

B.Western Enterprises

1.William H. Ashley established an innovation in the fur business, the rendezvous system, in the Rocky Mountains.

2.Often, the first people to join the former fur trappers in settling the West were not rugged yeoman farmers but highly organized and well-financed land speculators and developers.

3.A third group was lured by the same magnet that had drawn the Spanish to the Southwest—gold.

C.Moving Westward

1.The main reason for western migration was hope of economic self-betterment.

2.Migrants from New England went west rather than to eastern cities.

a)They left New England because of a shortage of land caused by family land-division traditions and by the growth of sheep raising.

3.Most migrants to the West went in groups.

a)Small and midsize parties going to Texas purchased land from impresarios like Moses Austin and Stephen Austin.

b)Large groups traveled from Missouri to Oregon, drawn there by missionaries who had preceded them.

c)The Mormons left Illinois as a community under the leadership of Brigham Young and established themselves in Utah.

4.Most pioneers lacked cash.

a)They squatted on unsold public lands.

b)Western congressmen ensured passage of a pre-emption bill.

II.The Social Fabric in the West

A.The New Cotton Country

1.American Indians had prepared the way for white settlers by clearing the land for agriculture.

2.Differing land quality allowed some settlers to prosper, while others did not.

a)The Southwest replicated the South’s hierarchical structure.

B.Westering Yankees

1.Settlers in the former Northwest Territory found that the way had been prepared for them.

a)American Indians had cleared the land for farming.

b)Surveyors had laid out the land.

2.The Old Northwest quickly replicated many features of New England.

a)Traditional institutions were established.

b)Class differences were not as pronounced as in the Southwest because of relatively uniform land quality.

3.Conditions in Oregon were favorable for settlers.

a)Open, fertile prairies provided good farmland.

b)Relations with American Indians were at first quite good, until the Cayuse War in 1847.

4.Religious revivals were a feature of life in all three regions.

a)In the Old Northwest and in Oregon, they reinforced town life.

C.The Hispanic Southwest

1.Missions provided the backbone for the Spanish settlement of California.

a)American Indians provided the labor that made the region prosper agriculturally.

b)Following independence, the Mexican government sold off the missions to private individuals, who formed a Spanish-speaking landed elite.

2.Interethnic and interracial harmony prevailed in some sections of the Spanish Southwest:

a)In northern California, around John Sutter’s settlement.

b)In Santa Fe, where an ethnically mixed elite based on commerce developed.

c)In Texas, until the American population became large.

D.The Mormon Community

1.Climatic conditions in Utah made central management and control desirable.

a)The Mormon Church parceled out land according to need and organized communal work.

b)The Mormons did all they could to exclude non-Mormons from Utah.

c)On the other hand, they cultivated close relations with the Indians.

III.The Triumph of “Manifest Destiny”

A.The Rise of Manifest Destiny

1.The concept of manifest destiny contributed to westward expansion.

a)The ideology of manifest destiny drew from religion: American possession of all of North America was God’s design.

b)Christian missionary organizations were advocates of expansion for this reason.

c)Politicians followed suit.

B.Expansion to the North and West

1.Expansion led to tension between the United States and Britain over territorial differences.

2.In the Northeast, conflict flared over the border between Maine and Canada; a truce prevented outright war.

3.In the Northwest, both England and the United States claimed Oregon.

a)The two agreed to joint occupation after the War of 1812, extending this arrangement in 1827 indefinitely.

b)American settlers established a governmental structure in 1843 despite British objections and aimed at union with the United States.

C.Revolution in Texas

1.After winning independence, Mexico owned the regions in the American Southwest that were formerly part of the Spanish Empire.

2.Tensions between the Mexican government and American settlers in Texas came to a head in the early 1830s.

a)After negotiating amicably with the Mexican government, Stephen Austin was arrested.

b)Regaining his freedom, Austin led a revolt against Mexico.

3.Santa Anna and the Mexican army invaded Texas.

a)The American settlers declared independence.

b)They were defeated at the Alamo and at Goliad, where they suffered a massacre.

c)Following defeat and capture at San Jacinto, Santa Anna agreed to withdraw south of the Rio Grande.

4.The Texans requested that the United States annex Texas.

D.The Politics of Manifest Destiny

1.President Tyler favored U.S. expansion.

2.Expansion was the major issue in the presidential election of 1844.

3.Congress approved a joint resolution annexing Texas prior to Tyler’s departure from office.

E.Expansion and the Election of 1844

1.The Whigs’ candidate (Clay) opposed the immediate annexation of Texas.

2.Positions on the annexation of Texas led the Democrats to nominate Polk rather than Van Buren.

3.The Democrats called for immediate annexation of Texas and the acquisition of all of Oregon to 54’ 40”.

4.Polk acquired much of Oregon for the United States.

a)He demanded 54’ 40” as Oregon’s northern border; the British wanted it farther south at the Columbia River.

b)The two sides agreed on the 49th parallel.

IV.Expansion and Sectional Crisis

A.The Texas Crisis and Sectional Conflict

1.Tension rose with Mexico after Texas’s annexation.

a)Texas’s boundary provided the focal point for controversy.

2.Polk ordered the American army to the Rio Grande after Mexico refused to receive his envoy to discuss the issue.

a)The United States declared war after a Mexican attack at the Rio Grande.

3.Many in the United States protested against the war.

a)Their concern arose from the connection between expansion and slavery.

4.The annexation of Texas focused intense attention on slavery.

a)Southerners saw greater economic and congressional power in the expansion of slavery.

b)Northerners found slavery’s expansion into Texas proof that there was a “Slave Power” conspiracy.

c)Appropriations for the war effort were held up by the debate over the proposed Wilmot Proviso.

B.War with Mexico

1.In California, American settlers revolted against Mexico.

a)They established the Bear Flag Republic.

2.Polk sent an army to Santa Fe, which seized the entire region without opposition.

3.In Mexico, the Mexicans were defeated on several fronts.

a)Taylor defeated Santa Anna at Buena Vista.

b)Scott marched overland and seized Mexico City.

4.The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo ended the war.

a)The United States obtained Texas’s border at the Rio Grande, all of New Mexico, and California.

b)Mexico received $15 million and U.S. payment for war damages caused by Mexico in Texas.

C.The Antislavery Crusade and Women’s Rights

1.Antislavery sentiment, though still unpopular, was on the increase; the abolitionist movement was growing.

a)Moderate abolitionists, alienated by Garrison’s tactics and his association with radical black abolitionists, formed their own organization.

2.Some became prominent in the abolitionist movement, notably in the Garrison wing.

a)Rebuffs in the movement led to advocacy of women’s own equality.

3.At the 1848 Seneca Falls Convention, women formulated a program for equality and political rights.

D.Issues in the Election of 1848

1.The two major parties tried to avoid the issue of slavery in the territories.

2.The Free-Soil Party insisted that slavery must be excluded from the territories.

3.A surge in the number of people moving to California added to the growing split over slavery in the territories.

a)Thousands rushed there after the discovery of gold in 1848.


Identify the following items and explain the significance of each. While you should include any relevant historical terms, using your own words to write these definitions will help you better remember these items for your next exam.

1.Lorenzo de Zavala

2.Santa Anna

3.Stephen F. Austin

4.Far West

5.extractive industry



8.Oregon Trail

9.Oregon Country

10.Great Basin

11.Brigham Young

12.Great Salt Lake

13.pre-emption bill line

15.Junípero Serra


17.John Sutter


19.Rio Bravo



22.manifest destiny

23.Thomas Hart Benton

24.Winfield Scott

25.Oregon Question


27.probate court

28.First Organic Laws

29.Antonio López de Santa Anna

30.Texas Revolution


32.Sam Houston

33.Treaty of Velasco


35.Webster-Ashburton Treaty

36.James K. Polk

37.joint resolution

38.Zachary Taylor

39.John C. Frémont


41.Wilmot Proviso

42.Battle of Buena Vista

43.Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo


45.Frederick Douglass

46.Sojourner Truth

47.Liberty Party

48.popular sovereignty

49.Free-Soil Party

Multiple-Choice Questions

Select the correct answer.

1.The fur-trapping industry in the West eventually declined, in part because

a.excessive competition drove fur prices down, making the industry unprofitable.

b.federal laws put a stop to it.

c.the beaver population was wiped out in large areas.

d.of hostilities between Native Americans and fur trappers.

2.Sheep raising for wool in New England

a.prompted many New Englanders to migrate to the West.

b.failed because of competition from southern cotton.

c.undermined the demand for furs trapped in the West.

d.provoked conflict between sheep raisers and dairy cattle raisers.

3.The first permanent American settlements in Oregon were established by miners.

b.missionaries to the Native Americans.

c.southerners seeking new lands for slavery.

d.Americans driven out of California by the Mexicans.

4.The settlement in the West established by Brigham Young prospered, thanks to

a.the highly centralized direction and control asserted by the settlers’ church. influx of immigrants from Europe.

c.Mexicans who were expelled from Texas and California as a result of the war with Mexico.

d.large government subsidies, given because of its strategic location.

5.Mexican settlement in California was spearheaded by

a.great cattle ranches. outposts.

c.cotton plantations.

d.missionary settlements.

6.According to manifest destiny,

a.squatters had the right to own the land they improved, despite the fact that they had not purchased it.

b.American expansion was part of God’s plan for the world.

c.Mexican control of Texas violated international law.

d.European governments were on notice not to interfere in the affairs of the Western Hemisphere.

7.All of the following statements are true of John C. Tyler EXCEPT that

a.his entire cabinet resigned in protest.

b.he was a Whig in name but often acted like a Democrat.

c.he vigorously pursued the annexation of Texas.

d.he was elected president in his own right in 1844.

8.The war with Mexico marked the first time that

a.the United States fought a war with a foreign power instead of against Native Americans.

b.the U.S. army occupied a foreign capital.

c.a president committed U.S. troops to war without prior approval by Congress.

d.a popular military figure went on to become president.

9.The immediate issue that precipitated war with Mexico was

a.the massacre of Americans at Goliad.

b.the discovery of gold in California.

c.the location of the Texas border.

d.Mexican encouragement of Native American attacks on American settlements.

10.In the presidential election of 1844, the major issue was

a.the territorial expansion of the United States.

b.restricting further Irish immigration.

c.equal rights for women.

d.abolishing slavery.

11.Americans who opposed the annexation of Texas did so because

a.they thought the land there was worthless.

b.they objected to slavery.

c.they feared that it would provoke war with Spain.

d.All of these

12.Small third parties appeared in the 1840s because

a.of sentiment among northerners against the introduction of slavery to any new land acquired by the United States.

b.of personal jealousies within the Whig and Democratic parties.

c.neither major party was willing to include westward expansion in its platform.

d.both major parties had become corrupt.

13.The Wilmot Proviso focused political attention on the issue of slavery by submitting a proposal to

a.protect slavery in the South.

b.allow slavery everywhere.

c.exclude slavery from lands obtained from Mexico.

d.end the slave trade.

14.The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo provided for all the following EXCEPT gave the United States the northern possessions of Mexico. settled the Texas-Mexican boundary dispute. required the United States to pay Mexico $15 million. gave the United States some territory south of the Rio Grande.

15.California quickly attracted new settlers when was discovered in 1848.

b.the Bear Flag Republic was created.

c.John C. Calhoun announced that he was willing to accept the exclusion of slavery from it.

d.the Mexican War began.

Essay Questions

1.The lone pioneer who ventures forth by himself to tame the wilderness is a stock figure in the tradition of how Americans settled the frontier. What contributions, to the contrary, did ORGANIZED GROUPS play in the development of the West during the first half of the nineteenth century?

DEVELOPING YOUR ANSWER: Your essay should include a discussion of the efforts of entrepreneurs who organized the fur trade and who led emigration to Texas. Fur traders like John Jacob Astor drew people to the West to work for them, while impresarios such as Stephen Austin organized large migrations from the East, in his case into Texas.

People moving in groups settled sections of the West other than Texas. You should discuss how large groups of people traveled together to Oregon, where they often settled in communities, centered around existing Protestant missions. Utah presents an example of even more intense group migration. Bound together by their unique religious beliefs, Utah’s pioneers traveled together to that harsh region and then worked together in communal projects organized by the Mormon Church.

Finally, you should note that New Englanders who moved to the Old Northwest tended to reestablish the kind of communities prevalent in their former states. Far from being daring loners, these settlers quickly reestablished the familiar New England town, complete with the traditional institutions of school and church.

2.In 1845, journalist John L. O’Sullivan asserted that Providence had destined the United States to spread out all over the continent of North America. Did other factors, though, play a role in the nation’s westward expansion during the early nineteenth century?

DEVELOPING YOUR ANSWER: Sullivan’s statement reflected the belief in manifest destiny shared by many Americans, a doctrine that proclaimed that the United States had been preordained by God to spread from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Apart from its contribution to manifest destiny, religion exerted additional influence. Missionaries were the first Americans to settle in Oregon, and they then issued a call for mass migration there. Then, too, the Mormon settlement of Utah was a religious migration, one necessitated by the persecution that the Mormon Church and its adherents encountered wherever they had attempted to settle in the East and Midwest.

In addition to religious ideology, economic considerations played a decisive part in stimulating movement to the West. The economic factors that you should discuss include the growing shortage of available farm land in New England; the never-ending search for gold, capped by the discovery of that precious metal in abundance in California; and the opportunities in the West for fur trading and farming.

3.The expansion of the United States during the 1840s yielded increased economic opportunity for some and religious freedom for others. On the other hand, it proved to be an exceptionally disruptive force in American society. Do you agree?

DEVELOPING YOUR ANSWER: Recall that the Louisiana Purchase had disrupted American politics (when Missouri applied for statehood) by raising the question of slavery’s extension to new territory acquired by the United States. The prospect of acquiring Texas immediately sounded alarm bells for the same reason, delaying its annexation from its declaration of independence in the 1830s until 1845.

The outbreak of war with Mexico brought the issue of slavery in the territories to a head. You should accordingly discuss the controversy over the Wilmot Proviso, which focused on whether or not slavery would be permitted in any of the lands acquired as a result of the conflict with Mexico.

Map Exercises

1.With the termination of the war with Mexico in 1848, did the United States reach its maximum extent on the North American continent? Examine Chapters 13 and 14 opening maps to answer.