Describe how ongoing westward expansion shaped the United States in the early 1800s. How do you think it influenced American character?

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In the period between 1800 and the Civil War, westward expansion was one of the key issues of the day in the United States. Due to financial panics and the need to have a farm, many looked west for new starts. The best idea put forth by the Articles of Confederation was the Northwest Ordinance, which provided for states to be admitted on an equal footing. This meant that no matter where a person moved, one could expect to retain their rights and freedoms as an American citizen. This even held true when the first settlers of Texas came from the United States, as these settlers had no intention of following Mexican customs as Mexican rules dictated. The area east of the Mississippi River was divided into territories and then states after the Native Americans had been either eradicated or pushed west. The primary reason for the army's existence between 1815 and the Mexican-American War was to fight Native Americans.

Westward expansion shaped American character. Americans claimed that they were exceptional and that they had a right to this land—this would lead to the doctrine of Manifest Destiny. These relatively young Americans believed that it was their God-given right and duty to spread the nation's borders. Westward expansion also led to a romanticized view of the explorers, though the lives they lived were often harrowing and anything but glamorous. The new nation also acquired territory often without looking at later ramifications. Jefferson bought the Louisiana Purchase without consulting Congress first. American citizens moved into Texas while looking for cheap land with good soil for cotton production. In time, the search for new land would be tied to slavery interests, and many Northerners claimed that the new territory was only to be used by planters. The westward expansion movement inspired Americans into making the best of what their country had to offer and to work harder in order to ensure a bright future.

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