The USA has a strong political position in the world, and there are no arguments to deny the statement. However, at the beginning of its history, America was not strong and influential country. The process of development took a long period of exhausting wars and border conflicts. Nevertheless, the USA had united the states under the flag of liberty and democracy. Many historians tried to find the answer for the question of the American success. The purpose was to detect the period in the USA history that was the most determining. There was only one epoch, which brought a plenty of important events to America, and made the country strong and powerful. It was time of the westward expansion. The people moved far to the west and settled in the region. They invested in the areas, protected and fought for the land. The western expansion had many reasons; however, the change was encouraged by the strong idea. Although it was a period of conflicts for the control over the territory, the westward expansion was an essential base for the United States formation.
Westward expansion time of the American history was absolutely exceptional. It was a symbolic, new, and different time in the history, the beginning of the new era. America extended the territory to unprecedented limits. However, the western lands were undeveloped and even wild. The local tribes and native citizens lived in the regions with settlers from Mexico, Spain or some European countries. Besides, they did not have a desire to leave their territory or to surrender it. Thus, it was the beginning of big wars and bloody conflicts. Nevertheless, it is important to admit the positive sides as well. The United States of America acquired lands, which are the most important for the economy development. They increased the reserves of mineral resources and supplied the country with gold. The stories about the Golden Rush are famous in the entire world.
The Golden Rush happened during the westward expansion. Moreover, the country took the most important seaports in the western costs, which are essential even now. They support the powerful prestige of America. In addition, the period was an intensification of fight for independence. Texas is a state of the USA now, but during westward expansion, it was a separate republic. The movement for aimed to join Texas to the other states, which caused the problems in the American and Mexican relationships and erupted the war. It was a time of major changes in all the spheres of life in America. “Westward Expansion of the United States, which took place between 1763 and 1890 is at once one of the most romantic stages of human accomplishment and one of the greatest tragedies of human cruelty” (Pendergast, Pendergast & Slovey, 2001). Moreover, Americans strongly believed that they had to bring the idea of democracy and independence to the west. They considered western territories uncivilized and wild. In addition, they had a moral right to improve the situation in the regions. The powerful idea was called Manifest Destiny.
The Americans believed in the superiority of their nation. They felt the obligation and moral duty to interfere with the western lands’ affairs. The term Manifest Destiny was established. “Americans justified the expansion with the ideology of “Manifest Destiny,” invoking divine providence, national superiority, and exceptionalism” (HTI.osu., n. d.). The reason for appearance of the ideology is difficult to determine. Some people considered it some kind of the nationalism manifestation in order to find the ground to burst into the west. The other explanation is the wish to help to develop and enrich the states. However, it is obvious that the Manifest Destiny “expressed both national political objectives and the goals of ordinary men and women who settled the west” (HTI. Osu., n. d.). In addition, the manifest could prove the idea that the westward expansion was a background of the USA formation. The notion appeared in the expansion period, but the idea is principal now. Moreover, the philosophy existed throughout the American history.
In 1839, an American journalist of the period John O’Sullivan introduced and represented a term of “Manifest Destiny” (HTI. Osu, n. d.). For the first time in history, he regarded the ideas, institutions, and beliefs of Americans about their natural superiority. The majority of people believed in their moral duty to clean the rich lands of the west from the lowest nations. The motivation helped them to win the wars and limit the rights of native tribes in the western states. Besides, the impressive result not always justified the methods. Nevertheless, the fight was the base for the development of democracy. The citizens expanded the idea of freedom to the western region. However, the primary the notion of the Manifest Destiny expressed the expansion of the American nation from one ocean to another. It had the goal to unite the territory into one country under the flag of democracy. The author considered that Americans was a unique nation, which did not have a common history of sufferings. They were the people, who had created their own history. Thus, it was the American destiny to become a great nation. The American Constitution was the first in the new world. The doctrine of the supremacy included several factors, which pushed Americans westwards to instill the new ideas.
Several essential elements motivated the westwards expansion. The western territories provided an opportunity to enrich. Thus, the economic motives were the most important factors. The new settlers were promised to get 160 acres of land. The payment made them leave everything and go to west. Even the immigrants shifted to the west in order to get a better life. They established hundreds of farms. In addition, the western regions had plenty of different mineral resources. Many Americans wanted to work on the metal mines, while others helped to build the railroads. Thus, they all considered the west to be the land of great opportunities. However, only a few became extremely rich. Besides, the discovery of gold in California caused a Golden Rash among the Americans looking for their happiness.
The next factor of the expansion was freedom. Some immigrants searched for the freedom that they could not have in their native totalitarian countries (for example, the Chinese). Westward expansion meant absolute freedom for Americans, but it deprived of autonomy the native citizens of the west. In addition, Americans possessed some religious aspects in their aggressive westward expansion. They believed in a high God’s decision to give Americans the possibility to conquer the wild territories. The native western citizens were pagans. Thus, the idea of the American nation superiority brought hundred missioners to the west. “The history of American frontier is not only one of the conquests of a continent and of expending opportunity for the downtrodden; it is the history of a birth of a nation” (Billington & Ridge, 2001, p. 12). It was the second essential reason of the movement. The missioners tried to convince the Indians to adopt Christianity. The idea closely connected to the Manifest Destiny, as the purpose was pure and innocent. The Americans wanted to save the souls of the wild tribes.
The next factor of the westward expansion is obvious. The majority of Indian tribes were not in the harmonious relations, as they had some conflicts with each other. Thus, conquering their territories was easy for the Americans. Although later several tribes of the Indians joined with the purpose to win the common enemy, it did not help. A political factor also played the role for adventurers, who looked for gold. Americans wanted to increase their influence in the region to create the empire. The development could possibly create the new important trade routs. Moreover, it was necessary to achieve the access to the ocean for the international trade. Some historians speculated that the conflicts with Spain and Mexico intensified the expansion to the west. Strong fear to lose the land motivated Americans to strengthen the strategic positions in the west. Nevertheless, acquiring the new territories was easier than to hold them together and establish the order.
The unlimited westward expansion caused a plenty of problems for the country. Many Americans were against the movement. Any expansion resulted in a widening of the territory, which transformed the country into the empire. However, the empires were doomed to collapse. Instead of fortifying the territories of the country, the Americans joined new lands and caused problems with safety of the state. Moreover, control over the huge territory was not easy to maintain. The different states had the various inhabitants with their particular culture and traditions. It could possibly cause internal conflicts. The mixture of different cultures could even threaten the integrity of the USA. The question of whether to continue the expansion or to preserve the lands from the separation arose. In addition, the problem of the slavery in America caused inner political conflicts, which later transformed into the vast issues. The slavery was like a tumor, which took roots in all of the country. Some states abolished the slavery, while the other regions insisted on. For the Congress, it was a hopeless situation. The situation resulted in a serious danger of the War. The challenging situation resulted in a decision to divide the country into the slave state and the states without slavery with attempt to decrease the potential of the civil war. The result was termed by historians as the compromise. The Americans worried about inner affairs, thus, the western expansion finished when the political problems appeared. The aforementioned factors made the American nation stop the westward expansion.
Thus, the westward expansion is one of the most important and decisive periods in the American history. It determined the new borders of the country and enlarged the territory. Moreover, the expansion established America as one of the most powerful countries in the world. Although the purpose of the expansion was difficult, an idea of the national superiority convinced the nation to move further. However, the majority of the first settlers were looking for the freedom and possibility to work on their own land. Nevertheless, the American freedom meant an absolute enslavement of the native citizens of the western regions. Without a doubt, the western expansion had many reasons and purposes, but it stopped suddenly when the inner political problems appeared. The period united the separate, undeveloped and uncivilized lands in one of the most powerful and strongest countries today.