An Expanding Nation

By Michael Welborn

Justifiable or not?

There are a lot of things that can be said about the US expansion in the 1800s, but what would the people say around this time? Most people who agreed with expansion argued that it was manifest destiny to move west. Manifest destiny was the belief that it was America's right and duty to spread the nation across the North American continent.(Hart pg 281) To expand west the US would have to make purchases over land claimed by other countries. These purchases included The Louisiana Territory, Florida, Texas, and Oregon Country. But even though these purchases made the US bigger many people didn't agree with these purchases, or how the purchase was conducted. For example, after the Louisiana Territory was bought from France some people worried that such a large country would be impossible to govern. Others, such as politicians, thought that they would lose their power.(Hart pg 281) Whenever there was a purchase of land in the US people would always agree or disagree. But some disagreed for good reasons.

When Stephen F. Austin formed his colony in Mexico he agreed that the people who lived or settled there would have to obey Mexican laws, learn Spanish, and join the Catholic Church. But instead of following these laws many American settlers who lived there had very little respect for Mexican culture, and this angered the Tejanos. The Tejanos were Texans of Mexican descent. Because of the constant fights between the Tejanos and the US settlers the Mexican government closed further immigration to Texas.(Hart pg 283) This soon resulted in a war between rebels from Texas and General Santa Anna. Eventually the rebels took Santa Anna and his army down. This made Texas an independent country. In 1845, Texas was admitted as the 28th state.(Hart pg 285) There were other wars and battles over land in the North American continent. Most people said that the US was like a bully, bullying its neighbors and until they got what they want. Personally I both agree and disagree with the US expansion. This is due to how we took or purchased land and who we took it from.

Motives, Hardships, and Legacies

People moved west for many reasons. Most of them were either for religious reasons or for making money and earning profit. After Lewis and Clark's expedition in the early 1800s they stimulated a new interest in an old industry: the fur trade.(Hart pg 301) The trappers who set out for the west were called mountain men. These men usually died young due to the large amount of danger. These included fur thieves, Indians, wolves, and bears. Even the simplest mistake could kill them. Things like diseases also took a heavy toll on these countrymen. Their legacies included the Oregon and California Trails, which they pioneered across. They also left their journals behind that were filled with stories of laughter, sadness, and regret. Others like Missionaries wanted to convert Indians to Christianity. They had a rough start and converted few Indians to Christianity but heir real legacies were opening the west for settlement. Soon settlers followed in their footsteps.(Hart pg 304)

The Pioneer Women had the goals of seeking homestead, husbands, and other opportunities.(Hart pg 304) The journey was long and took four to six months for them to travel west. Many of them had to leave behind the comforts of home to fully travel, and they might have had to leave things behind or throw things out of their wagons during travel. The death toll on the long journey was high and diseases were the main cause of this. The legacies that they left behind were great and will never be forgotten. The Mormon's legacy was he faith that they planted firmly in the Utah desert. Which later spread all over. Others like the Forty-Niners helped turn California into the state that it is today. The Chinese made the west a more interesting to live.(Hart pg 311)

Mexicano Contributions

There were many Mexicano Contributions that influenced how we live today. When Americans rushed to California in 1849 they knew nothing about mining. Mexicanos introduced them to three types of mining, batea was when you scooped up the mud from the streambed and then washed it to clean the sand off of it. The heavier weight fragments of gold would then sink to the bottom of the pan. Other methods required a rifle box and digging quartz.(Hart pg 318) Other things like cattle ranching and sheep raising were also very important. Irrigated farming was very essential in the west. So when people started to settle in the south west The Mexicanos started to teach them this form of farming to grow crops. Mexicanos also helped bring forth a style of cooking that soon inspired others.(Hart pg 323)

Mexicanos also helped us establish some of the laws we have today such as the Community Property Law.(Hart pg 325) They also helped with things such as agriculture and developing the way of the cowboy. Entertainment was also a big thing. The Mexicanos had big fiestas where they would celebrate. At these fiestas they dance a lot of different styles of dancing. These dances included jota and jarabe tapatio. Mexicanos also formed the first rodeos.(Hart pg 327)

Move West?

I probably wouldn't have moved west. This is based on the fact that it was very easy to die once you got there or while you were traveling. I know that there were a lot of opportunities in the west but I still don't think that I would risk my life traveling for about six months just to get to a place where you didn't know anything and could be betrayed if you were searching for things such as gold or silver. I guess I'm not a strong believer in manifest destiny and what it stands for.


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