The Impact Of Westward Expansion On The United States

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The purchase of the Louisiana Territory in 1803 opened the door to westward expansion. Thomas Jefferson purchased this extensive plot of land with the hopes of strengthening and expanding the Republic, unaware that it would have the opposite effect. Jefferson’s fateful decision to expand the United States nearly destroyed the Republic that Americans worked so hard to build. It triggered the rise of divisions amongst Americans. These small cracks continued to grow and tear at the seams of the nation. Although westward expansion between 1800 and 1848 granted many new opportunities to the American people, it also brought about tension that plagued the nation for years to come. Some historians may construe westward expansion as beneficial to the United States, arguing that it reduced tensions within the nascent nation. Westward migration was glorified in the early 19th century as the way in which to achieve true freedom. The West was associated with economic opportunity and basic Republican ideals. Streams of individuals seeking prosperity and liberty flooded into the west after the Louisiana Purchase. With the rapid peopling of the west, new transportation systems arose in an effort to connect the new western territories to the southern and northern regions. Roads, steamboats, and canals such as the Cumberland Road and Erie canal were created to transport people and goods from one end of the United States to the other. The railroad was another invention that promoted unity.

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