Westward Expansion

By: Lucas Mathieu

Was Westward Expansion Worth More than the Lives of People Who worked to Create It?

Many people worked to expand the United States, some died trying. Was the expansion worth the cost of human death? They are many different ways in which you could be killed while traveling through uncharted territory. Many expansionists were killed from starvation, natural causes, explosions, and Native Americans. These were just a few examples of how expansionists were killed while traveling through uncharted territory. All of these causes of deaths most certainly happened while expanding. The Donner Party, immigrants, and Native Americans were great examples of these reasons.


The Donner Party was group of expansionists that were in search of new and improved land for living and raising families upon. They had to travel through a lot of uncharted territory to reach their destination of California. Many ended up dying from starvation, freezing to death and being killed by one another (cannibalism). Was the death of 41 people out of 87 really worth the risk of expanding? The Donner party died because they took the risk of taking the Lansford Hastings Cutoff, they were the ones to test out the cutoff in order let people know if it was safe to take the shorter route in order to expand farther west. Lansford Hastings did not care about the Donner party he just wanted fortune and fame from the cutoff as well as expanding the United States at a much faster rate.


The Immigrants willing to risk their life to build railroads in order to expand the United States died from explosions and natural causes. During the construction of the Central Pacific Railroad Chinese immigrants used an explosive to blow holes in mountains for the railroad tracks to be built. The name of the explosive that they used was called nitroglycerin. Nitroglycerin was very sensitive to slight movements and may cause explosion if it was dropped or even shaken too much. Many of the chinese immigrants were killed from rockslides from the explosion, and some just did not make it out of the explosion area. The immigrants were paid very little money for putting their life one the line, the expansion of the United States was so important that the expansionists did not care for these immigrants lives. All they cared about was expanding the United States.

Native Americans were a very large struggle for expansionists. Expansionists were willing to kill Native Americans that were living on the land that they planned to place railroad tracks. There were a lot of small scale battle and one or two large scale battles that were fought between the expansionists and the Native Americans over the land. Many laws and acts were made so the Native Americans could have some of the land that the expansionists took from the Native Americans. These Native Americans were forced into these new grounds because of these acts.


The Native Americans are impacted still to this day. The land that we took from them back then was rich of resources, we pushed them back into land that had very few resources. About 22% of the nations Native Americans live in reservations today. The living conditions and land that they live on is comparable to “Third World”. The Indians housing conditions are very poor. “There are about 90,000 homeless or underhoused Native American families, 30% of Indian housing is overcrowded and less than 50% of it is connected to public sewers.” ( Native 1). The health conditions of the Native Americans are slowly improving thanks to The Indian Health Care Service. About 55% of the Native Americans rely on this care. (Native 1). The Indian Health Care Service only meets 60% of their requirements for the Native Americans. The Native Americans live in these harsh conditions because of the expansionists. The Native Americans are struggling to survive in these harsh conditions only because the people of the United States wanted to expand.


Were the deaths of these people worth expanding the United States? From what I think, these deaths were not worth the expansion of the United States. There are certainly many different ways that these expansionists were killed while traveling to uncharted territory. The Donner Party, immigrants, and Native Americans were great examples of these deaths.




Struggles of the Westward Expansion

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How did Westward Expansion Affect The Native Americans

How did Westward Expansion affect the Native Americans

Works Cited

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