Westward Expansion and Reform

New Territory

Between 1801 and 1861, exploration was encouraged as America expanded its territory.

New US Territories Added After 1801:

Louisiana Purchase

  • Jefferson bought land from France, which doubled the size of the United States

  • In the Lewis and Clark expedition, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark explored the Louisiana Purchase and the Oregon Territory from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean


  • Spain gave Florida to the United States through a treaty


  • Texas was added to the United States after it became an independent republic


  • The Oregon Territory was divided by the United States and Great Britain, and the southern part of the territory became the state of Oregon


  • War with Mexico resulted in California and the southwest territory becoming part of the United States

Westward Migration

Westward migration was influenced by geography and economic opportunities.

Factors that Influenced Westward Movement:

  • Overpopulation in the eastern states

  • Availability of cheap, fertile land in the west

  • Economic opportunity, such as gold (California Gold Rush), logging, farming, freedom (for runaway slaves) in the west

  • Cheaper and faster transportation, such as rivers, canals, and steamboats made it easier to move

  • Knowledge of trails made it easier to travel

  • Belief in the right of Manifest Destiny—the idea that expansion was for the good of the country and was the right of the country

Impact on American Indians

Westward expansion had severe effects on American Indians that lived in the area.

Impact on American Indians:

  • The discovery of gold on American Indian land led to the removal of the Cherokee Indians in Georgia

  • In the Supreme Court Case Cherokee Nation v. Georgia (1831), the Cherokee wanted to stop laws passed that took away their rights and land, but the Supreme Case did not listen to the Cherokee

  • The American Indian Removal Act allowed the government to relocate American Indians to the West

  • As part of the American Indian removal policy, the Cherokee nation and other tribes were forced to relocate to an area in present-day Oklahoma along the “Trail of Tears”

Inventors and Entrepreneurs

Terms to Know:

  • Inventor: a person who is the first to think of or make something

  • Entrepreneur: a person who organizes resources to bring a new or better good or service to market in hopes of earning a profit

Cotton Gin

  • Invented by Eli Whitney

  • It increased the production of cotton and increased the need for slave labor to cultivate and pick the cotton


  • Jo Anderson, an enslaved African American, and Cyrus McCormick invented the reaper

  • McCormick was an entrepreneur who brought the reaper to market

  • The reaper increased the productivity of farmers


  • It was improved by the entrepreneur Robert Fulton

  • It provided faster river transportation connecting various parts of the US

Abolitionist Movement

The abolitionists worked to end slavery.

Abolitionist Movement:

  • Most abolitionists demanded immediate freeing of enslaved African Americans

  • Abolitionists believed that slavery was morally wrong, cruel, and a violation of the principles of democracy

  • Harriet Tubman led hundreds of enslaved African Americans to freedom along the Underground Railroad, a network of antislavery safe houses

  • William Lloyd Garrison wrote the Liberator abolitionist newspaper and worked for the immediate emancipation of all enslaved African Americans

  • Frederick Douglass wrote the North Star abolitionist newspaper and worked for rights for African Americans and women to better their lives

Women's Suffrage

The women’s suffrage movement helped women gain equal rights. Many women met at the Seneca Falls Convention to discuss women’s rights.

Women’s Suffrage Movement:

  • In the Declaration of Sentiments, supporters of the movement declared that “All men and women are created equal”

  • Supporters believed that women were deprived of basic rights, such as the right to vote, to be educated, to have equal opportunities in jobs, and to own property

  • Isabella (Sojourner) Truth, a former enslaved African American, was a nationally known advocate for equality and justice

  • Susan B. Anthony was an advocate to gain voting rights for women and equal rights for all

  • Elizabeth Cady Stanton played a leadership role in the women’s rights movement