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Westward expansion meant that the US acquired ever increasing amounts of land, and needed people, farmers, to settle there so it could maintained without a huge military presence. This led to massive immigration in the second half of the 19th century, as mostly Europeans came here seeking to finally have their own land.
It also added vast resources to the United States, both in terms of potential agricultural production and things like gold, silver and timber.
It stimulated the construction of the Transcontinental Railroad, and added new states to the country.
It further aggravated the divide between north and south, and accelerated the onset of the Civil War.
The westward movement began with the Louisiana Purchase on 1803. The movement to the west during the 1800’s is also known as Manifest Destiny. From 1783 to 1815, approximately five million emigrants arrived in the United States and many of those were on quest to gain land in the west. This provided American’s with the hope to “spread” democracy around the continent.
Transportation evolved and changed as the westward expansion increased. Waterways were built, such as the Erie Canal. Goods were able to be shipped more effectively, so mercantilism became important in some areas.
In addition to new trades and transportation, borders were created to form definite boundary lines. In 1836, the republic of Texas declared freedom from Mexico, Florida was purchased from Spain and a border was created between America and Canada.
This is just the beginning of how society was affected by westward expansion. Please see the links below for more information!
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