Manifest Destiny and Westward Expansion

Manifest Destiny was the idea that motivated people to leave the places they once knew and head West in search for greater opportunities. Manifest Destiny was the belief that it was the United State’s destiny to expand and settle the West. This expansion came years after declaring independence from Great Britain and the 13 colonies became the original United States in 1783. Through the 1800’s, there were six major expansions to the U.S. territory including the Louisiana Purchase, the acquisition of Florida, Texas,California, and the Oregon Territory.

The United States first major land purchase and settlement was The Louisiana Purchase in 1803, which the U.S. bought over 828,000 square miles of land from France for $15 million. The Louisiana Purchase doubled the size of the United States. Exploration and settlement began immediately after the purchase, and President Thomas Jefferson commissioned Lewis and Clark to map out the territory and find a water route to the Pacific Ocean. This expedition provided settlers with many maps and valuable information to continue to expand.

The Florida Territory was later acquired in 1819 with the Adams-Onis Treaty. In this treaty Spain ceded its remaining province of Florida to the U.S. and set the boundary of Mexico. The Texas region was originally owned by Mexico, but in 1836 Texans revolted and gained their independence from Mexico to form the Republic of Texas. In 1845, Texas became part of the United States. This angered Mexico and created disputes over the Texas border.

In 1846, Americans living in California also rebelled against the Mexican government. They briefly created the Bear Republic before being annexed by the U.S. After much fighting and division in Mexico, the U.S. and Mexico signed the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. The treaty set the border between Texas and Mexico at the Rio Grande. Mexico also sold the land that is present day California, Nevada, Utah and Arizona to the United States for $15 million.

The Oregon territory was initially claimed by many European nations, but a treaty with Great Britain and the U.S. ultimately divided the territory between them. The Oregon Treaty of 1846 made Oregon a U.S state and established it’s border at the 49th parallel. Many settlers traveled on the treacherous Oregon Trail to find a new home and opportunities.