About This Chapter
Some people just aren't happy settling for life without a bit of adventure. Thankfully, many of these individuals lived in our country during the period of 1806-1855 and were quite eager to help this country expand into the unknown areas of the west. These people, the settlers, threw caution to the wind and set out for a land that was dangerous, uncertain and foreign. Many didn't make it, but many did. It was those successful settlers that helped to expand our country. Hear their stories in our lesson on the Oregon Trail.
Find out how much the lands out west meant to this country and our founders as you explore our lesson on the Texas Annexation problem. Find out why the annexation of Texas caused a major uproar that was influenced by five different presidents. Learn more about President John Tyler's concerns and how he brought the idea of expansion to the forefront. Go on to watch our lesson on President James K. Polk. See what he managed to do in the lower 48 states in his single term in office.
Do a little research into the Mexican-American War. Our lesson will help you to see the key points of the war. You'll get to study the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo and Wilmot Proviso in this lesson, too.
So why were so many of those pioneers eager to leave the comforts of the east to settle and explore the west? Well, many of them had dollar signs in their eyes. The Gold Rush in California was a big attraction to many who sought great wealth. The Gold Rush is touched on in our lesson on the election of 1848 and the compromise of 1850. Besides the Gold Rush, you'll also get to learn more about what was happening with slavery and how decisions were made to expand the country.
Don't miss our lesson on President Franklin Pierce. Learn all about his politics and ideals. Find out why he was so determined to bring the country's focus on the economy during this time of political struggle.
1. The Oregon Trail: Westward Migration to the Pacific Ocean
Throughout the first half of the 19th century, the United States expanded its borders all the way to the Pacific Ocean, fulfilling its manifest destiny. Find out about the reasons people wanted this land, the path that took them there and the politicians who supported it all.
2. Manifest Destiny's Texas Annexation Problem
Find out why it took five presidents (Jackson, Van Buren, Harrison, Tyler and Polk) to get Texas annexed into the U.S. and added as a state during the era of Manifest Destiny.
3. President John Tyler: American Expansion and Sectional Concerns
In the presidential election of 1840, 'Tippecanoe and Tyler, Too!' prevailed. But with President Harrison's death just a month later, Vice President John Tyler took the oath of office. Was 'His Accidency' really as bad a president as some critics suggest?
4. President James K. Polk's Accomplishments in the Lower 48 States
President James Polk may be obscure, but he wasn't insignificant. Learn about his controversial territorial acquisitions that define most of what Americans today call the 'Lower 48' states.
5. The Mexican-American War, Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo & the Wilmot Proviso
The controversial Mexican-American War lasted from 1846-1848. In this lesson, discover how the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo expanded the southern part of the United States all the way to the Pacific Ocean.
6. Election of 1848 and the California Gold Rush
General Zachary Taylor was elected president in 1848, hoping to see the peaceful addition of land from the Mexican cession. 'Old Rough and Ready' wasn't prepared for the California gold rush.
7. Primary Source: New York Daily Herald Article on Gold Discovery in California
Perhaps the most famous event in the history of California was the discovery of gold in 1848. The subsequent gold rush saw huge numbers of Americans venture across North America in search of riches.
8. President Fillmore and the Compromise of 1850
Following President Zachary Taylor's death, Millard Fillmore took office. He supported the Compromise of 1850 that added new states from the Mexican cession and attempted to resolve long-standing controversies over slavery.
9. President Franklin Pierce's Politics and Economics
In the wake of the Compromise of 1850, President Franklin Pierce pursued an aggressive agenda of expansion. In this lesson, find out why it inflamed sectional tensions, and why he wasn't re-nominated for a second term.
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Other chapters within the History 103: US History I course
- First Contacts (28,000 BCE-1821 CE)
- Settling North America (1497-1732)
- The Road to Revolution (1700-1774)
- The American Revolution (1775-1783)
- The Making of a New Nation (1776-1800)
- The Virginia Dynasty (1801-1825)
- Jacksonian Democracy (1825 -- 1850)
- Life in Antebellum America (1807-1861)
- Sectional Crisis (1850-1861)
- American Civil War (1861-1865)
- Reconstruction (1865-1877)
- Studying for History 103