Reasons for Westward Expansion

The Social, Economic, Political Reasons

Economic Reasons

One of the main reasons for westward expansion, was the growing population of the United States. More and more people were migrating to the new land, and the rich land that hadn't been tapped into. The people who were moving were often overcrowded and didn't have great living conditions in the east. Another reason was that industries started to need more natural resources such as coal, river space, and land in general. The California Gold Rush also contributed to the large numbers of people moving west, and the California economy and population grew.

Social Reasons

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, followers were called Mormons, moved west to avoid religious persecution. The main reason they were persecuted was that they practiced polygamy, where one man is married to several women at the same time. To avoid persecution they fled west and the trail became known as the Mormon Trail.

The Gold Rush doubles as a social reason, because mining camps and towns opened quickly when more people searched for gold in one area. Miners came from many ethnic groups and were typically young and had wives at home that cooked, washed clothes, and operated boarding houses.

Political Reasons

The southern slave states saw the west as an opportunity for slavery to spread, and therefore eventually gain more slave states and territories. (The open territories that they wanted for slave states are shown below.) They saw the land as miles and miles of new plantations. Another reason that was already stated, but goes for political reason also is that the population was rapidly growing. The cities were becoming overcrowded and resources becoming fewer. The land out west was cheap and nobody had touched it yet, making it perfect for settlers just to pick up and move.
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