Western Expansion

"Our God Given Right or An Abuse of Power?"

HOT Questions

This assignment is to introduce students to Western Expansion and different reform movements that occurred during the mid to late 1800s.

By the end of this assignment students should be able to:

  1. Define Manifest Destiny.
  2. Explain the economic, political, racial, and religious roots of Manifest Destiny and analyze how the concept influenced the nation’s westward expansion
  3. Understand the motivations and expectations of Americans who settled in the West

Examining Art


Looking at the paintings answer the following questions for EACH of the 4 paintings. (Write answers in the comment box).

  1. Name of Artist (if given) and name of painting
  2. How would you describe the painting? What elements of the work catch your eye or stand out?

  3. What do you think the artist was trying to show or say through this work? What ideas or feelings of Nationalism was he/ she trying to express?

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Westward the Course of an Empire

Manifest Destiny

Review PowerPoint on Manifest Destiny (click here)

  • Slide 1: Answer the question: What do you see in this image
  • Slide 6 answer the question: How does John Melish justify drawing the map as if the country stretches from sea to sea?

The Donner Party

Based on the video above:

1) Why did John Donner lead his group off the trail?

2) How many miles does the "short-cut" add the the journey?

3) How did members of the Donner party survive? Would you do the same thing to survive explain.

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Maps of the United States


Using the website provided to you answer the following questions:

  1. How has the United States expanded over time?
  2. Which events in US history had the greatest impact on Westward expansion?
  3. Which events in US history had little impact on Westward expansion?
  4. How did the Civil War impact the size of the United States in terms of US territories and states?

John O'Sullivan

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Read journalist John O’Sullivan’s 1839 and 1845 articles in the Democratic Review.

  1. List the economic cultural, political, and religious assumptions implicit in O’Sullivan’s formulation of Manifest Destiny.
  2. What do the two articles reveal about American attitudes toward other nations? Toward themselves?

"The Great Nation of Futurity," The United States Democratic Review, Volume 6, Issue 23, pp. 426-430.

John O'Sullivan, "Annexation," United States Magazine and Democratic Review 17, no.1 (July-August 1845): 5-10

Mexican-American War

After watching the video, "America's 'Forgotten War'" answer the questions:

  1. Why is the Mexican-American War considered the forgotten war?
  2. Why was President Polk so invested in claiming Mexico's land as part of the United States? How did this benefit the USA?
  3. Which two major Civil War generals fought in the Mexican-American War? What were their opinion of the war?
  4. How does Mexico remember the Mexican-American War? How did this impact relations the United States?
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