United States Expansionism 1790s 1860s


United States Expansionism: 1790s- 1860s Essay, Research Paper

The major American aspiration during the

1790s through the 1860s was westward expansion. Americans looked

to the western lands as an opportunity for large amounts of free land,

for growth of industry, and manifest destiny. This hunger for more wealth

and property, led Americans conquer lands that were rightfully someone

else’s. Manifest destiny and westward expansion brought many problematic

issues to the Unites States verses the Indians that took the Americans

to the Civil War.

The first issue that arose for the Americans,

was where to put the existing Indians while they conquered their land.

The United States felt that the Indians needed to be secluded from all

other races so that they would become civilized. This Indian Territory

was where eastern Indian tribes such as the Kickapoos, Delawares, and Shawnees

lived. As the population of Americans increased in the western sector

of the United States, they also invaded that land specially allotted for

the Indians. Instead of moving the Americans out of the Indian Territory,

the government minimized the size of Indian Territory by half. Now

the Northern half was open for white settlement. As for the western

Indians, such as the Sioux, Cheyenne, and Arapahos, American settlers went

around them to settle the California and Oregon. The Americans decided

to stay away from further conflict with the native Americans because they

knew they were unable to move them away from their land.

Americans continued their western movement

and put forth their domination over the Indians. The first step the United

States took in claiming this new land for them was by establishing a land

system. The Land Ordinance of 1785 established an orderly way to

divide up and sell the new lands of the Western United States. Shortly

after, the Northwest Ordinance of 1787 set up a system of government for

the land north of the Ohio River. Slavery was outlawed in the five

states that made up the Northwest Territory, and no self-government was

to be set up until at least five thousand free white men were in the territory.

The next step the Americans took had to

do with forcing the Indians off their land. They managed to trick

the Indians by making treaties with them. The Indians were practically

forced to agree with the treaties. Most Americans didn’t even

keep their promises. For example, in the Treaty of Fort Stanwiz of

1784 and the Treaty of Fort McIntosh of 1785, the Iroquois and other Ohio

Indians were forced to give a portion of their land to the United States.

The U. S. then proceeded to divide up this land, but settlers could not

buy any of it until 1788. Many Americans became restless and decided

to go in and settle these lands illegally, not honoring their treaty with

the Indians.

These treaties were the only way the United

States was going to be allowed to legally take over the Indian lands with

the agreement of the Indians. This new recognition and use of treaties

fell under the Indian Intercourse Act of 1790. This was a form of

written documentation that allowed the ceding of land to be possible through

the treaties. Americans, however, did not honor their agreement with the

Indians, and in the future, some tribes used this against the government

in trying to regain the land that was taken from them illegally.

These treaties also led to Indian resistance

and increasing difficulties with the native peoples. As Thomas Jefferson

took over the Presidency in 1801, he was determined to civilize the Indians.

He planned to take over the land in a peaceful manner. In return, the Americans

shared with the Indians their civilized way of living. Jefferson’s goal

was to educate the Indians and convert them to Christianity. He did this

in hopes that the two cultures would be able to co-exist. However, his

planned failed and continuous problems arose between the Americans and

the Indians.

The United States also managed to gain

three million acres of Delaware and Potawatomi land in Indiana through

the Treaty of Fort Wayne. Because these people had established an

alliance with the Northwest Confederation tribes, Tecumseh, the leader,

proclaimed this treaty invalid because one tribe could speak for the rest.

This belief led to great resistance, by the Indians, to further expansion

and disagreement with the U. S. government. In 1822, Tecumseh gathered

Indian warriors to attack American soldiers, led by William henry Harrison.

This attack was a failure for the Indian cause and both sides suffered

casualties. However, the Indians managed to scare the United States.

The British were on the Indian’s side,

which consisted of Democratic Republicans. They resented this British interference

and wanted to continue expanding and exerting their superiority over the

Indians, and supported war as an answer to the conflicts. In June

of 1812, the U. S. Senate voted to go to war against the British. The British

had a stronger army and navy as oppose to the Americans. While the

U. S. gained terms of defining national boundaries and gaining some land,

the war of 1812 did much more in terms of creating a conflict within the

United States government. Because of the differing sectional opinions

of the war, the Mexicans’ attack on the British and Indian forces failed.

Following the War of 1812, many Indian

groups signed treaties with the US. Government that removed them from their

land onto the Indian Territory because they were unwilling to civilize

themselves. The “Five Civilized Tribes,” the Cherokees, Chickasaws,

Choctaws, Creeks, and Seminoles, resolved to stay where they were, though

they eventually ceded most of their land. Of these groups, the Cherokees

took the greatest strides in co-existence with the white people.

Their land could even be seen at this time as one of the few frontiers

of inclusion, where racial mixing and marriage frequently occurred between

the Cherokees, whites, and African Americans. Most settlements were set

up as frontiers of exclusion where no racial sexual mixing was allowed.

Despite this obvious peaceful co-existence, the states of Georgia, Alabama,

and Mississippi stood up to the federal government and voted to invalidate

the treaties with the Indians.

Under President Jackson, who supported

the removal of the Indians, Congress passed the Indian Removal Act, which

would transfer Indians to reservations, by agreement or by force they.

When the Cherokees were supported when they took the issue to the Supreme

Court. However, Jackson insisted removal. After the defeat of the

Cherokees, the Seminoles decided to fight for their land, and succeeded

in maintaining it. The others tribes, however, were eventually

forced to leave their native lands as well. The most renowned of

these removals was that of the Cherokees, referred to as the “Trail of

Tears.” Many Indians died when the United States army took

the Cherokees to Oklahoma.

It is only a shame that many had to give

their lives for the greed of others. One must always keep in mind

the pain many Indian families suffered as their lands were being taken

away. While westward expansion was an accomplishment in the eyes

of many, it was a loss for others.

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