Throughout the first half of the 1800s or 19th century there were manyfactors influencing United States expansion. From the Louisiana Purchase in 1803to the Gadsden Purchase in 1853 the United States had tripled in size since itsoriginal thirteen colonies and only paid forty-five million dollars in doing so. The idea of Manifest Destiny spread quickly throughout the country and soonthousands were moving westward in search of a new way of life. The idea ofManifest Destiny was for the U. S. to occupy the entire continent.
The onlyproblem was that the land it was expanding on to didn’t belong to the U. S. Onesuch factor that influenced the expansion of the U. S. was the occupation ofnearby territories by foreign countries.
The largest territory and first one tobe bought by the U. S. was the Louisiana Purchase of 1803. In order for theUnited States to expand successfully into the west they needed control of theMississippi River, which at the time was owned by France. The port at NewOrleans was extremely important to the navigation of the Mississippi andprovided a good market for trade. While this purchase was very successful,others did not go as well.
Prior to the Mexican Cession of 1848 the UnitedStates and Mexico were having boundary disputes over where the Texas boarderexisted. President Polk reacted by sending troops into Mexico to protect theTexas boundary lines. A year and a half later Mexico surrendered and Texas wasgranted the Rio Grande border line in the Treaty of Guadalupe. Because of thedifferent nations or countries that owned land on the continent, the U. S. wasforced to purchase or fight for the land it wanted.
This caused the newlyacquired territories to have a more diverse group of people, which affected thesocial development of the nation as a whole. Another huge factor that played arole in expansion was that of available resources. As the people began to movewestward they would settle in areas with vast amounts of natural resources suchas lakes or streams, where they could gather food. Lakes were very important totravel because they provided drinking water for the people and attracted wildanimals to the area, which could be hunted for food. Also if an area were to dryor rocky it wouldn’t be settled. People looked for the best places to live,places they could profit from the most.
During the gold rush everyone traveledto the western coast in hopes of becoming rich for the very same reason. Thisfactor affected the economical and social development of the U. S. becausecertain areas or regions would produce specific products. Different types ofpeople would also live in the separate areas depending on wealth or trade thatthe family specified in. The third and maybe the greatest factor affecting themigration across the land was geography.
Mountains, rivers, lakes, plains, andin some cases canyons were among the biggest impediments for people moving outwest. At first people began to settle beyond the Appalachian Mountains andslowly moved westward towards the Mississippi River. Here they had to cross withtheir belongings safely without sinking them or getting them wet. Next they hadto cross the Great Plains that stretched on for miles and miles without food orwater. Depending on the time of year it was the weather conditions variedsometimes making it impossible to travel because of snow or heavy fog.
Finally,the Rocky Mountains stood in their path. Being the only obstacle left betweenthem and the Pacific Ocean, the Rocky Mountains were the most difficult to pass. Travelers would be lost or stranded in the mountains with no food for weeks,sometimes turning to cannibalism. Many people died from disease and starvationduring their difficult trip west proving it to be virtually impossible to reachthe other side of the continent. These natural barriers slowed the progress ofexpansion across America and isolated groups of people traveling, causing themto settle where they were. Because of this, small towns or villages formed alongthe routes west.
The geography also contributed to the social development ofAmerica as the barriers isolated people and kept the economy the same indifferent sections of the country. This had many bad affects on the economies insome areas where the people were dependent upon one thing resource, crop, orproduct. During the time of expansion large areas of land were given to theUnited States from foreign countries. Great Britain contributed the most land tothe U. S. through treaties especially at the end of the Revolutionary War.
Francesold the Louisiana territory to the U. S. inexpensively and Spain also soldFlorida to the United States in the Adams-Onis treaty. Every foreign nationsigned a treaty with the U.
S. agreeing to sell their land claims in thecontinent, except for Mexico. Mexico caused the most problems politically,economically, and socially. The United States went to war with Mexico overTexas’s boundaries and won, taking Texas and the people with it. Through thepolitical confrontation with Mexico the U.
S. changed its own economic and socialdevelopment by bringing Mexicans into the country. With every purchase or treatythe U. S. made they took in more and more people from other countries changingthe social development country.
This is why other nations played the greatestrole in the development and expansion of the United States