Ch 8: Manifest Destiny & American Expansion: Middle School Lesson Plans

About This Chapter

The Manifest Destiny and American Expansionism chapter of this course is designed to help you plan and teach westward migration in your classroom. The video lessons, quizzes and transcripts can easily be adapted to provide your lesson plans with engaging and dynamic educational content. Make planning your course easier by using our syllabus as a guide.

Weekly Syllabus

Below is a sample breakdown of the Manifest Destiny and American Expansionism chapter into a 5-day school week. Based on the pace of your course, you may need to adapt the lesson plan to fit your needs.

DayTopicsKey Terms and Concepts Covered
Monday The Oregon Trail and Annexation of Texas Expansion of America's borders, including reasons and pioneer routes; concept of Manifest Destiny and difficulties in annexing Texas
TuesdayPresidencies of Polk and TylerCareer and presidency of John Tyler, including expansionist and sectional concerns; achievements and contentious acquisitions of James Polk
WednesdayThe Mexican-American WarCauses and outcome of the Mexican-American War, Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo and the Wilmot Proviso
ThursdayCalifornia Gold Rush and President Zachary Taylor Presidential election of 1848 and discovery of gold in California, including its political and social consequences
FridayPresidencies of Fillmore and PierceCompromise of 1850 and the addition of new states; conflicts over slavery and expansionism under Franklin Pierce

8 Lessons in Chapter 8: Manifest Destiny & American Expansion: Middle School Lesson Plans
Test your knowledge with a 30-question chapter practice test
The Oregon Trail: Westward Migration to the Pacific Ocean

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.

Manifest Destiny's Texas Annexation Problem

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.

President John Tyler: American Expansion and Sectional Concerns

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?

President James K. Polk's Accomplishments in the Lower 48 States

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.

The Mexican-American War, Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo & the Wilmot Proviso

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.

Election of 1848 and the California Gold Rush

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.

President Fillmore and the Compromise of 1850

7. 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.

President Franklin Pierce's Politics and Economics

8. 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.

Chapter Practice Exam
Test your knowledge of this chapter with a 30 question practice chapter exam.
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Practice Final Exam
Test your knowledge of the entire course with a 50 question practice final exam.
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