United States Expansionism

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United States Expansionism

Students witness the expansion of America from the early colonies through the acceptance of Hawaii as our fiftieth state. Includes a look at the formation of the first 13 colonies, the French and Indian War, The Revolutionary War, The Louisiana Purchase, Florida and the Seminole Indians, The Westward Movement, The Mexican-American War, The California Gold Rush, Manifest Destiny, Oregon Territory, Alaska Purchase, and Hawaii.

Take a look at the many events that led 13 colonies from the Revolutionary War to the creation of the United States of America as we know it today.

  1. Students will know about the founding of the United States of America and the colonies from which it arose. People from all over Europe populated these colonies; they came for many reasons, including trade and freedom.
    1. Roanoke. In 1585 Sir Walter Raleigh founded the first English colony in North America; it was located on what is known today as Roanoke Island in the state of North Carolina (Raleigh named the area Virginia). Some time after 1587 all of the inhabitants of Roanoke Island vanished and no survivors were ever found.
    2. Jamestown. Founded in 1607, Jamestown was the first English colony to survive the “New World”. The colonists were sent by a corporation, called the London Company, to look for gold and to find a passage to China and Japan; the colonists found neither. Jamestown survived by supplying tobacco for England.
    3. Plymouth Colony. Financed by a company of investors, a group of religious dissenters, known as Puritans, was sent to North America. While still on board their ship the group’s members signed a charter, known as the Mayflower Compact, agreeing to stay together and form the Plymouth Colony.
    4. New York. New York began as a Dutch colony with the purchase of Manhattan Island from the Indians in 1626. Along with New Jersey, New York was taken over by the British in 1664.
    5. Virginia. Became a royal colony in 1624.
    6. Massachusetts Bay Colony. Between 1630 and 1640, 20,000 settlers emigrated to the colony. Many of these settlers were Puritans, who came for land and to practice their religion in peace. However, many in the colony protested the religious intolerance and were banished. These people went on to form their own colonies, including Rhode Island in 1636, which was the first colony to welcome Jews and Quakers; Connecticut in 1636; and New Hampshire in 1638.
    7. Delaware. Known as New Sweden, this colony had its first permanent settlement in 1638.
    8. Pennsylvania. William Penn, a Quaker, founded this colony in 1682. He regarded the colony as a place where Quakers and people of other faiths could enjoy religious freedom.
    9. Georgia. Founded in 1732, this colony was the last of the original 13 colonies.
    10. French and Indian War. The French were the first Europeans to set up trading posts in the Great Lakes area. In addition, French trappers occupied the land along the Ohio and Mississippi rivers. The British wanted this land to obtain the profits from fur trading, so in 1754 the French and the British went to war over the region. It became known as the French and Indian War (also called the Seven Years War). After a British victory, France surrendered all of its holdings east of the Mississippi River.
    11. Revolutionary War. In the 1700’s, a movement to end British rule over the American colonies became active. In 1775 a war broke out between Britain and the American colonies. In 1776 the 13 colonies adopted the Declaration of Independence and became the United States of America. When the war ended, the United States and Britain signed the Treaty of Paris in which Britain recognized the independence of the Americans. The British also agreed to give the United States the rights to all of the territory between the Appalachian Mountains and the Mississippi River.
  2. Students will understand that the rest of the United States came to be what it is today in pieces: vast areas were bought, some land was gained through treaties, and much of the land was gained through war. Americans were driven to settle throughout the continent for many reasons: some wanted good farmland; some were in search of gold; and many people, who were in fear of Great Britain blocking growth, wanted to claim land before the British could.
    1. Northwest Ordinance. Passed in 1787, this law established a procedure by which new states would be added to the union. It said that when the population of a district reached 60,000, it could apply for statehood.
    2. Louisiana Purchase. The U.S. bought the entire Louisiana territory. This 827,987 square mile land purchase doubled the size of the United States.
    3. Lewis and Clark. In 1804 President Jefferson sent an expedition to explore the Louisiana Territory and to find the Northwest Passage. He also wanted to claim the land west of the Rockies before any other country did. This mission paved the way for future expansion of the U.S.
    4. War of 1812. In 1812 President Madison asked Congress for a declaration of war against Britain. There were important reasons for this: After the Treaty of Paris (1783), the English were supposed to leave the forts they held west of the Appalachians. However, they not only held on to the forts they had in the Greats Lakes region, but they were also collecting taxes from traders that occupied the area. In addition, Britain and France were at war with each other and neither side respected the neutrality of the United States. In fact, they were capturing American ships and taking American sailors as prisoners. During the War of 1812, the Indians became allies with Britain. The U.S. used this alliance as an excuse to move or eliminate the Indians in the Ohio Valley, where many whites were settling. By the following year, the Indians had been pushed beyond the Mississippi River and Britain was out of the Northwest Territories.
    5. Florida and the Seminole Indians. In the early 1800’s slaves were escaping to Florida, where they were living together in villages or with the Seminole Indians. Slave owners became angry with the Spanish, who owned the Florida territory, because they would not make the Seminole Indians return the slaves. General Andrew Jackson led U.S. troops against the Seminole Indians. The Seminole War of 1818 led to the American acquisition of Florida. Under a treaty, Spain ceded all of Florida to the United States. In addition, Spain gave up all claims to the Oregon Territory.
    6. Treaty of 1818. In this treaty between the United States and Britain, the 49th parallel was established as the northern boundary and the Continental Divide was made the western boundary of the United States. In addition, the treaty provided for a 10-year joint occupation by the U.S. and Britain in the Oregon Territory. g
    7. ) Mexican War. In 1821 Mexico won its independence from Spain. Mexicans welcomed Americans into Texas. However, these people considered themselves Americans and not Mexicans; this led to many battles. In 1836 Texas became an independent state, and in 1845 it became a part of the United States. The United States government thought that the border of Texas extended south to the Rio Grande, but Mexico disagreed; this led to war. When the war ended, the southern border of Texas was set at the Rio Grande. In addition, under the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo (1848) Mexico ceded California and New Mexico to the U.S.
    8. Gadsden Purchase. This 30,000 square mile strip of land was bought because it provided the best route for the Southern Pacific Railroad to get to the Pacific Ocean. The Gadsden Purchase forms the southern borders of Arizona and New Mexico.
    9. Oregon Territory Acquisition. From 1818 on, both Britain and the U.S. occupied the Oregon Territory. However, Britain was making claims to the mouth of the Columbia River, and the U.S. wanted a port at Puget Sound. In the Treaty of 1846 the border of the U.S. was extended north to the 49th parallel, and its western boundary was moved to the Pacific Coast. In return, Britain received navigational rights to the Columbia River and obtained Vancouver Island
    10. Alaska. In 1867 Secretary of State, William Seward, bought Alaska from Russia. This 586,000 square mile piece of land became a state in 1959.
    11. Hawaii. In 1893 Americans in Hawaii led a revolution and set up a provisional government under Stanford Dole. The purpose was to perform missionary work and to protect the pineapple interests of the Dole family. In 1898 the U.S. annexed the Hawaiian Islands; they became a state in 1959.
  3. Students will realize that the United States’ expansion was not without human cost. Many Native American tribes were either displaced or destroyed by Americans migrating across the continent.

  • ID: A5304
  • Subject: U.S. History
  • Grade Level: 2-5