Our Essay Answer
Between the period of 1775-1825, the early westward movement had great effects on the new American nation. These effects led to an increase in the nationalism of the American people toward their country.(F)
The early westward movement began with the purchase of the Louisiana Territory. The territory was vast and a largely unexplored tract of land, claimed by France. By 1804, Napoleon Bonaparte had lost interest in the land due to his needed concentration on fighting England and the rebellion led by l'Ouverture, that resulted in heavy French loses. For this reason, he was willing to negotiate a price with America for the territory. This Louisiana Purchase altered Jefferson's strict view of the Constitution. "I worried that I was exceeding my constitutional mandate."(I) Jefferson purchased the land despite the fact that the Constitution nowhere stated that a president could purchase foreign land. Under the Louisiana Purchase, the United States more than doubled in size, removed a foreign presence from the nations' borders, and guaranteed the extension of the western frontier to lands beyond the Mississippi River. This new step toward expansion persuaded Jefferson to have a scientific exploration of the trans-Mississippi land funded by Congress. Lewis Meriwether and William Clark led this expedition, which became very important to the nation. It increased geographic and scientific knowledge of the unexplored territory, created maps and land routes for settlers, gave advantages to the fur trade, and improved relations with the Indians.(H) The Louisiana Purchase was an important factor for encouraging the agrarian society in the new American nation.
By the late 1790's, an efficient network of interconnecting roads and canals was also being created for the development of a national and industrial economy. The Cumberland Road, completed in 1850, extended a thousand miles from Maryland to Illinois.(C) It encouraged farmers to ship goods further away for cheaper prices and in less time. In 1825, the Erie Canal was completed. It was able to link the western farms to the eastern cities, and increased economic growth in both areas.(C) Robert Fulton constructed the first steamboat in 1807. This new technology made shipping goods easier, faster and cheaper for both farmers and textile factories.
By the 1800's manufacturing in the United States began to flourish. Many new inventions and discoveries became important factors of the increase in manufacturing. In 1793, Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin, which increased the amount of cotton spun in a shorter amount of time. He also discovered a system of interchangeable parts, which led to mass production in northern factories. The Lowell System of 1820 was one of the first textile corporations to recruit young women and have them work in the factories. President Alexander Hamilton took this "step forward" as a great achievement for America.(B) These new corporations promoted the division of labor, and increased the use of machinery. They also promoted immigration from foreign countries. Due to this immigration and high birth rate, the United States population doubled between 1800-1825.(G) Americans settled further west as the population increased.(A) This influx into the western territories introduced America to new lands and enouraged new discoveries to be made. The immigrants that arrived in the country were from mostly Great Britain and Germany.
The westward movement also had negative effects upon some Americans. Native Americans were forced out of their land to the Oklahoma territory by Andrew Jackson. By the nineteenth century the lands of the Cherokee, Chicasaw, Seminoles, and Creek Indians were being taken by white supported military campaigns led by Jackson.(D) At the Battle of Horseshoe Bend in 1814, the Creeks lost twenty-two million acres of land in Georgia and Alabama. The Cherokee, by 1825, were forced to adapt many elements of white culture, including clothing, government, and religion.(D)
Rapid expansion also led to the question of "cheap money"-- easy credit from state banks, and land available at low prices by government. This issue led to widespread land speculation and inflation. Many felt that economic good times would continue and therefore land was selling at an average of sixteen dollars per acre.(E) This caused the Financial Panic of 1819. Loose money and easy credit slowed down the economy. Prices soon increased and people began to buy less. The Second Bank of the United States tried to end the panic by tightening the money supply, but farmers still wanted lower tariffs and lower priced land.
The early westward movement changed America and shaped it into an independent society. The hardships that it caused for some are later rationalized as Darwin's survival of the fittest. Those who were the strongest were the ones to survive. In 1890, in Frederick Jackson Turner's 1890 thesis, he stated that the extention of American influence to outlaying islands and adjoing countries indicated that the expansion would continue. It was a step toward the future oil, and steel companies that were to inhabit America fifty years later.
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