What Is Westward Expansion?

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Beginning in the early 1800s the United States began a period of westward expansion. Starting with the Louisiana Purchase the US started acquiring land and pioneers began settling into all the newly acquired land. By 1850 the United States had expanded all the way to the Pacific with pioneers claiming their own land along the way. This became a problem because the Native Americans who had been living, hunting and working those lands still inhabited them. Many Americans, including Andrew Jackson, believed “Congress should exercise its right of eminent domain and seize the millions of acres they ‘wandered’ over and hunted on. They should be allowed to keep only their villages and fields which they obviously owned because they had invested…show more content…
In order to reach this goal in the most desirable manner, peacefully and effectively, the “civilization” program was implemented. As Perdue and Green state, “This [the ‘civilization’ program] would reverse their [the Cherokee] inevitable extinction and free America from moral stigma” (Perdue 11). At the time of the “civilization” program’s establishment, most Americans felt that the Cherokee people were not racially inferior. Americans wanted to change the lifestyle of the Cherokee to better suit their mixing into American culture. To entice the Cherokee into give up their hunting land peacefully, the Americans planned to show them a civilization in which hunting was no longer necessary. Perdue and Green explain the reasoning behind the United States’ promotion of spreading the idea of individual land ownership to the Cherokee by saying, “United States officials hoped eventually to convince Indians that land was a commodity to be bought and sold freely” (Perdue 26). If the Cherokee could be convinced that this was the case, Americans could purchase the land that in question. In addition to acquiring land for the increasing demand from Americans, the Cherokee “civilization” program was attractive to those seeking to spread the Christian faith. The link between “civilization” and Christianity was a reason that Christians supported the “civilization” program and saw it as an opportunity to make conversions. Missionaries established schools in which young Cherokees were separated from their parents and taught the ways of “civilization” in hopes they would be alienated from the Cherokee culture and become subject to the ways of
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