Go West Reading Project

By: Jocelyn Holmes

What does it mean to be an American as an explorer during Westward Expansion?

Westward Expansion was a tough time for explorers. There was a risk of disease, death, and lack of survival needs. Explorers had to have a lot of courage to go on expeditions and be prepared to fight whatever stands in their way. According to, the Legends of America website, "The history of the fur trade is filled with stories of adventure, daring, and savage warfare." Fur trade was one of the many risky jobs explorers had to complete.


Of all frontiersmen, the mountain men were the most independent. They had to endure months of isolation. The explorers had to be able to chop, plow, mow, and cut up Indian corn. The New York Tribune states, " The conditions of living are very rude there." Mountain men faced a lot of dangers. Grizzly bears were the most dangerous predator. When the weather conditions got worse and they could not get food, mountain men had to slaughter and eat their mules and horses. A lot of times they would die of extremely low temperatures.


Some mountain men would trade for profit and some would trade to support the journey of going west. If the mountain men made friends with some Native American tribes then that would limit the amount of dangers they had to overcome. Beavers were commonly used to make clothing. Fur trade was very important. The fur from a beaver was strong and durable. To explore the west the explorers had to be well prepared. In order to do that they had to trade for the right supplies.

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William Clark

William Clark was an American explorer who grew up in Kentucky which is present day Missouri. He was a slaveholder and a planter. He was born August 1, 1770 and died September 1, 1838. Clark was one of the many important explorers of Westward Expansion. The Lewis and Clark expedition was a very influential journey. President Jefferson instructed William Clark and Meriwether Lewis to go West in order to explore new surroundings. They recorded many objects that include, plants, animals, geography, and other natural features. Lewis and Clark developed a friendship with Native American tribes such as, Mandans and the Shoshone. From the Shoshone tribe they met one native in particular named Sacagawea. She contributed to the expedition which later became a success.

Meriwether Lewis

Meriwether Lewis was an American explorer. He was the leader of the Lewis and Clark expedition. Lewis was born August 18, 1774 and died October 11, 1809. He was also a very important explorer. He showed courage and determination. His mission was to explore the Louisiana Territory. Lewis also established trade with natives near the Missouri River. He wanted to expand to the Pacific Northwest.

Oregon Trail

This is a video about the Oregon Trail. It is a 2,200 mile route from Idependence, Missouri to Oregon City, Oregon. The emigrants traveled by wagon train.
Westward Expansion Unit - Oregon Trail An Introduction Video

Manifest Destiny

Manifest Destiny was the idea that the United States were destined to expand across the entire continent. In order to do that, explorers had to adventure the land. This is a 1872 painting. It is showing Columbia leading American settlers westward. The Manifest Destiny was an important time in history.

Works Cited


Davidson, James West and Michael B. Stoff. America History of Our Nation. Boston: Pearson Education, Inc., 2006. Print.


DeFelice, Cynthia. Weasel. New York: Avon Books, Inc., 1990. Print


“Lewis and Clark Journal Entries.” Brain Waves Instruction. 2014. Web. <www.brainwavesinstruction.blogspot.com>


Murphy, Dallas. Read Aloud Plays Pioneers. New York: Scholastic Inc., 1998. Print.


“On the Plains in 1844.” The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. 2013. Web. <www.gilderlehrman.org>


“Rural America: The Westward Movement.” The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. 2013. Web. <www.gilderlehrman.org>


Zinn, Howard. A People’s History of the United States. New York: The New Press, 2003. Print.