Speaker Notes Western Expansion

Speaker Notes: Western Expansion

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Jefferson’s encouragement of westward expansion was influenced by economic, social and political reasons. Politically, Peterson (1975) indicates that his government wanted to expand the union and could only attain this through increase of the land mass that was under its jurisdiction. To fulfill the wish of its government, Jefferson was compelled to encourage westward settlement.

From an economic point of view, Jefferson wanted the population to contribute to the economy of the nation through widespread cultivation. In this regard, Billington (2001) indicates that Jefferson believed that the Yeoman farmers had the capacity to increase the economic production through farming. For this reason therefore, he encouraged westward expansion.

Furthermore, one of his ideologies was that farming was an important activity that not only had economic benefits but also bred virtue. In particular, he believed that this nurtured hard work and self control that were essential for attaining independence, competence and successful and harmonic living.

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The increase of population was also a causal factor that prompted Jefferson to encourage westward expansion. Increased population has detrimental effects on economic production and also had the potential to trigger social unrest. Jefferson deemed it important to encourage western expansion in order to ease population pressure in the east.

His ability to influence the congress to pursue “Louisiana Purchase” was also an important factor in influencing westward expansion. This doubled the original size of the United States and made it possible for the populations to migrate to the west and explore the lands accordingly.

Also, the belief of Jefferson in “Manifest Destiny” right can be considered to have influenced him to encourage westward expansion. According to Peterson (1975), this ideology postulated that the expansion idea was not only good for the country but was also its right.

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The lands in the west were not only cheap but also fertile. In this consideration, Jefferson found it important to encourage westward expansion in order to capitalize on this opportunity that was seemingly economically viable. Not only did the country have a chance to purchase land and expand its territory but it also had an opportunity to improve economic production at he same time.


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The western expansion had diverse implications on the holistic wellbeing of the society. To begin with, the expansion culminated in increased rivalry between the aliens and natives in the west. In this respect, Woodworth (2010) cites that while the population in the west believed that the eastern population was primitive; the latter saw the west as wasteful and as such criticized them for luxurious living. The population in the west wanted to showcase their level of sophistication by labeling the eastern population as not only less intelligent but also backward.

The extensive river system that was found in the west provided sufficient water for Agricultural production. The farmers invested in cash crop production and specifically took up cotton farming. With time, this became very popular and encouraged the farmers to explore the market economy.

However, this was compounded by various complexities in 1819. Essentially, the area experienced a collapse in land boom and Agricultural production. This created panic and subsequently, state banks assured debt recovery and significantly reduced the amount of credit that was availed to the farmers for Agricultural production.

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As a result, farmers decided to improve the system of transportation. Partly, this was influenced by falling crop prices as well as unstable markets. There was dire need to reduce transportation costs in order to boost profits for farmers who wanted to explore distant markets.

Consequently, this led to an improvement in the social wellbeing of the populace. They were able to have access to more refined products form other markets and were exposed to other types of lifestyles.

The discovery of gold in 1848 further enhanced westward expansion and settlement and culminated in the California Gold Rush incident.

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The movement led to the death of an approximated 150,000 Americans due to diseases. Billington (2001) particularly cites cholera pandemics that occurred between 1832 and 1849 to have been the key causes of the deaths.

The native societies were also compelled to sign a host of treaties with the government of the United States. This was prompted by their loss in the 1812 war that was fought against the British.

Of great reference was the discovery of over two hundred new plant and animal species by Clark and Lewis. This was attained through their exploration that also enabled them to discover other friendly Indians apart from the natives.

The inherent development also spurred technological improvements that sought to ease transportation and enhance production. In the long run, the entire welfare of the populations was improved.

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Billington, R. (2001). Westward Expansion: A History of the American Frontier. USA: University of New Mexico Press.

Peterson, D. (1975). Thomas Jefferson and the New Nation: A Biography. Oxford: University Press.

Woodworth, S. (2010). Manifest Destinies: American Westward Expansion and the Road to Civil War. USA: Knopf.

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