Westward Expansion

By: Truman Gouldsmith

Manifest Destiny Painting

The Manifest Destiny Painting was a very big symbol for pioneers in US history. It represented Manifest Destiny, a term used then to express the feeling of the United States becoming better as a nation. The angel in the photo represents Manifest Destiny. The book she holds represent education being spread out west. The coil of wire she threads as everyone moves to the left (or for the meaning of the painting, west) is leading the way for future travelers.

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Trails West

As the United States grew, more and more people needed to expand west. This was done on four main trails.


The Oregon Trail:

-Crossed the Rocky Mountains

-Would have costed $600 (very expensive at that time period)

-Traveled in Wagon Trains (usually between ten and a few dozen)

-Many different people used it to move west


The Santa Fe Trail

-Followed an ancient trading route used by Native Americans

-Could trade cloth and other manufactured goods along the way

-Dangerous, but could result in extremely high profits (up to 2000%!!!!)

-Many different people used it to move west


The Mormon Trail

-Mormon's population grew rapidly

-Originally moved to Missouri

-Mormons were driven out and they took a route that is now known as the Mormon Trail


The California Trail

-Broke off southern of the Oregon Trail to go to California

-Was used a lot to get to California because of the California Gold Rush

-Many different people used it

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The Texas Revolution

The Texas Revolution was an event in history that was one of the main causes of the Mexican-American War. It started with American settlers moving into Texas. Mexico owned Texas at the time and wanted American settlers to come into it because Texas was empty. It was successful at the time, however, Mexico still enforced their laws on the new settlers. Many of the Americans living in Texas did not like Mexican law because it prevented them from having slaves. Eventually, the settlers wanted to break away and for Texas to be independent. This was the start of the Texas Revolution.


One of the first major battles in the Texas Revolution was the Battle of Alamo. In this battle the Mexican army was lead by General Santa Anna and the Texans were lead by Colonel William Travis. In this battle, Texans held out for two weeks, but were all eventually killed, including Davy Crockett and Jim Bowie. Santa Anna executed over 350 prisoners.


Another major battle was the Battle of San Jacinto. In this battle the Mexican army was lead by Santa Anna and the Texans were lead by Sam Houston. In this battle, Santa Anna’s army was surrounded at camp and defeated quickly by Houston. Later, Santa Anna was captured and forced to sign a treaty granting Texas independence.

The Mexican-American War

The Mexican-American War was an important war to both Mexico and the United States. It started out when General Zachary Taylor was sent to settle the dispute and offer to buy New Mexico. However, Mexican troops attacked Taylor’s troops near the Rio Grande. President Polk declared war. The United States won the war and the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was signed. The treaty increased the size of the United States by 25% by getting Utah, Nevada, and California. The Bear Flag revolt was where the United States declared California independent of Mexico. Later, the Gadsden Purchase was made. This gave the United States access to present day Arizona and New Mexico.

Gold Rush Performance Writing - (Letter)

Dear Monica,

This is my first letter to you ever since I left to go to California. We have already arrived and life here is different from Pennsylvania. Everyday we go to the mines and work hard. The days are extremely repetitive. There are lots of other men here but almost no children or women. In California, days seem to be very long. There are lots of traders and other people who are here doing business, but everyone seems to be worried about finding gold. As a participant of the "gold rush" I would like to say that life is getting boring. We do nothing but sleep, eat, and mine. I miss you very much, Monica, and I cannot wait to hear from you.

-William