Westward Expansion Guided Notes

DIRECTIONS: During this unit, we will discuss basic concepts surrounding the “Westward Expansion”.  Complete the essential questions for each topic using classroom discussions, class notes, your text book, and www.mrgigliotti.com.  This guide through the material can be used to help you compose your History Journal short essay questions, study for tests and quizzes, complete the “Newspaper Project” and answer questions during classroom review sessions.


Introduction to the West


A.  Famous Quotes:


1.  What do you think the following quotes mean?


“Europe stretches to the Alleghenies, America lives beyond.” (Emerson)


“In America, there is more space where nobody is than where somebody is.” (Stein)


B.  The “West”:


1.  The “West” is generally considered to all the U.S. territory west of the ______________ River.


C.  About the Frontier:


1.  The “frontier” was: _________________________________________________________.


1.  Americans are historically _______________ and are always moving _______________.


2.  Those who moved west were known as ____________ and they lived a very


     _______________ existence on the frontier.


3.  The “frontier” required settlers to be ____________ and _______________.


4.  “Self-Sufficient” means: _______________________________________________________.


5.  By 1850, most of the people on the frontier were under _____ years old.


D.  Methods of Travel West:


1.  Most of the _______________ went west by ____________.  A typical ____________ would


     travel at about _____ miles per hour and were pulled by _______________.


2.  Going by _______________ would take the pioneers about _____ months to complete the trip


     west and would cost around $_____ for a family of four.


3.  These trips were also extremely ___________ and settlers had to deal with weather, disease,

     starvation, and even Native American attacks.


4.  Some settlers who did not travel by land on the wagon trails went by sea on board


     ____________ ships which offered a much safer trip.


5.  A voyage around South America aboard a _______________ ship would last about _____


     months and would cost about $_____ per person.


E.  Why Go West?


1.  Pioneers went west for a number of different reasons.  List FOUR of them below:


     a.                                           b.                                        c.                                       d.


F.  Manifest Destiny:


1.  “Manifest Destiny” is an idea many people had during the 1800’s which stated that Americans


     had the _______________ to conquer the entire ________________ in order to spread




The Oregon Country


G.  Oregon Country:


1.  The “Oregon Country” was the territory between Northern ____________ and what is now


     ____________ including parts of Canada today.


2.  Although it was originally claimed by four nations, during the 1840’s both the


     _______________ and _______________ shared the territory and even built settlements.


3.  Most of the settlers in the “Oregon Country” were _______________ traders and used to meet


     up for _______________ were _______________ were traded with others.


H.  The Oregon Trail:


1.  Those who wished to move west and settle in the “Oregon Country” usually went by wagon


     along the _______________ which was an unofficial roadway carved out by wagon wheels.


2.  The “_______________ Trail” was over _____ miles long and extremely _______________.


3.  Life on the trail was ______________  and _______________.  Settlers usually left in the


     _______________ in order to avoid traveling though the _______________ mountains in the



H.  The Election of 1844:



Election of 1844 Ballot


           Candidate’s Name: _______________


           Political Party: _______________


           Platform, Beliefs, Issues:




            Candidate’s Name: _______________


            Political Party: _______________


            Platform, Beliefs, Issues:




           Candidate’s Name: _______________


           Political Party: _______________


           Platform, Beliefs, Issues:




            Candidate’s Name: _______________


            Political Party: _______________


            Platform, Beliefs, Issues:





Who did the American people vote for and why?: ______________________________________


I.  Polk as President:


1.  James K Polk was from the state of _______________ and was often nicknamed


     “Young _______________” because he was in many ways similar to Andrew Jackson.


2.  Polk firmly believed in the idea of _______________ and felt that the United States was

     justified expanding its borders further west to the Pacific.  This is why he campaigned on the


     slogan “__________________________”.


3.  Eventually, Polk and the United States came to an _______________ with England over


     _______________.  The “Oregon Country” would be _______________ between the two

     nations at the 49th parallel settling today’s border with Canada.  Polk agreed to this because at


     the time the United States was at war with _______________ and did not want war with



Texas (Lone Star Republic, Annexation, and Statehood)


J.  Mexican Independence:


1.  In 1823 the country of _______________ declared independence from ______________.


2.  This new nation of Mexico included parts of what is now the _______________ such as

     California, New Mexico, Arizona, and Texas.


3.  In the 1830’s, Mexico invited many _______________ to move to Texas because the area

     was very sparsely populated. 


4.  Many Americans led by _______________ moved to Texas and before long there were over

     15,000 Americans and only 5,000 Mexicans living in Texas.


5.  Mexicans hoped that the settlers would follow Mexican _______________ and take on


     Mexican _______________ such as Catholicism.  Mexico also forbad the institution of


     _______________ which most American settlers ignored.


6.  Many of the settlers in Texas did not follow the Mexican laws and customs and even began to


     _______________ near the town of Gonzales when the Mexicans tried to enforce the law. 


     This event led to a war for _______________ independence from Mexico.


K.  The Alamo:


1.  The most famous battle of this war took place in _______________ in an old Spanish


     _______________ known as the “Alamo”.


2.  The “Alamo” was surrounded by a huge Mexican army led by ____________ and was

     defended by only about 200 Texans.


3.  Three of the most famous defenders of the “Alamo” were (List them below)


     a.                                                                  b.                                                              c.


4.  After days of _______________ from Mexican cannons, the Mexicans attacked the Alamo and


     eventually _______________ all of its defenders.  The defenders might have escaped, but


     instead they chose to fight for _______________.


5.  The “Alamo” spurred on the revolt across Texas and eventually after several other battles


     such as the “Battle of _______________”, Texas won its _______________ from Mexico and


     was its own nation for several years known as the _______________ because of their flag.


6.  Texas was finally _______________ by the United States after much debate by president



7.  “Annexed” means: __________________________________________________________.


War with Mexico (The Causes)


L.  Timeline of Causes that led to War with Mexico:


1.  In October of 1845, a _______________ dispute existed between the United States and 

     Mexico.  The United States claimed that the border between the two nations was at the


     _______________ River, while the Mexicans claimed that the border was really about 100


     miles north of the Rio Grande at the ______________ River.


2.  In order to ensure American claims to Texas, President Polk sent a large American army


     under the command of _______________, nicknamed ______________ by his men, to camp

     just north of the Nueces River.


3.  In November of 1845, Mexico refused to see an American diplomat named _______________

     who was sent to negotiate the border dispute.  This refusal greatly insulted the United States.


4.  In March of 1846, President Polk ordered Taylor’s army to move south across the Nueces


     River and encamp just north of the _______________ River.


5.  By April of 1846, believing that Taylor and the American army had invaded their nation the


     Mexicans finally _______________ Taylor and his American army.


6.  Shortly after hearing about the small battle between Taylor and Mexican forces, Polk went


     before Congress to ask for a _______________ with Mexico.  His famous quote from his


     speech to congress was “_______________”.  Congress then declared war on Mexico.


7.  List at least THREE other reasons why the United States went to war with Mexico below:


     1.                                                               2.                                                            3.


M.  The “Spot Resolution”:


1.  Although the majority of American supported the war with Mexico, some citizens and members


     of Congress including _______________ opposed the war.


2.  ________________ argued where exactly was the “spot” that “American blood had been


     shed”?  Was that “spot” in the United States or in _______________?


3.  As a result of his opposition to the Mexican War, _______________ would not be reelected to

     Congress after his term expired.


The Mexican War (Military Campaigns & Strategy)


N.  American Strategy for Fighting and Winning the War:


1.  The United States had many _______________ at the start of the war, however the Mexican


     army usually _______________ the Americans in the field.


2.  The American strategy to win the war consisted of _____ parts that included: occupying


     _______________ and northern Mexico, taking _______________ and New Mexico, and


     finally marching on the Mexican capital of _______________. 


O.  Taylor takes Northern Mexico:


1.  After the start of the war, Taylor moved his army _______________ across the Rio Grande


     and was _______________ at several battles in Northern Mexico such as “Palo Alto”,

     “Monterrey”, and “Buena Vista”.


2.  Taylor’s army was the first American army to travel with combat _______________ who

     reported the results of each battle to the American public.  As a result of this coverage, Taylor


     became extremely _______________ across the nation.


P.  Taking California and New Mexico:


1.  Many Americans had begun to settle in ______________ even though it was part of Mexico. 


     When the war began, these settlers declared _______________ from Mexico and called their


     new nation the _______________.


2.  With the help of an American army led by _______________ and the American Navy off the

     California coast, the Mexicans were driven from California and the United States officially


     _______________ the territory about one month later.


3.  Another American army led by _______________ marched into ______________ New

     Mexico and took the territory without a fight.


Q.  On to Mexico City:


1.  President Polk worried that General _______________ was becoming too popular and might


     run against him for president after the war.  As a result, Polk decided to _______________


     Taylor and replace him with a new general named _______________.


2.  General Winfield Scott was nicknamed “______________” because of his excessive grooming



3.  Rather than marching to Mexico City across the long Mexican desert, Scott makes an


     “amphibious” landing at _______________.


4.  An “amphibious” landing is: _______________________________________________.


5.  After a siege of “Vera Cruz”, Scott’s army marches to _______________ along the same path

     that Cortez had taken to the capital 300 years before during the “Conquista”.


6.  At the final “Battle of ______________”, the American army defeated the Mexicans and took

     Mexico City effectively ending the war.


R.  The Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo:


1.  Polk sent an ambassador named _______________ with Scott’s army to negotiate a peace


     _______________ to end the war in which the United States would pay Mexico $30 million for

     California and the Southwest.  At the time, no one knew how easy it would be to win the war. 


     This treaty was called the “Treaty of _______________”.


2.  Many people in the United States were upset with Trist, because the United States could have


     taken _______________.


S.  Results of the Mexican War:


1.  The United States received huge amounts of _______________ know as the “Mexican


     _______________” as a result of the war.


2.  “Cession” means: ______________________________________________________.


3.  The war also provided a dress rehearsal for the _______________, as many of America’s

     best young officers such as Robert E. Lee and U.S. Grant learned to fight in Mexico.


Realizing Manifest Destiny


T.  The Gadsden Purchase:


1.  In 1853, the United States paid _______________ $10 million dollars for a piece of land which

     is now the southern portions of Arizona and New Mexico.


2.  The purchase was made, because many especially in the South wanted to build a railroad to


     California around the _______________ Mountains.


U.  The Mormons:


1.  The “Mormons” were a _______________ group led by _____________ who were persecuted

     in the East.


2.  After several moves and the death of their leader John Smith, the “Mormons” decided to move


     west to the area around the Great Salt Lake into what is now ____________.  Their new


     leader was named _______________.


V.  The Gold Rush:


1.  In 1848, _______________ was discovered by _______________ in _______________ at a


     place known as _______________.


2.  When news of this discovery reached the East, _______________ swept across the nation.


3.  In 1849, over 80,000 people moved west to California in order to find gold in what was known


     as the _______________.  Overnight, California became _______________ with no civil


     authority, but eventually became a _______________ in 1850.


4.  List TWO ways to find gold below:


     1.                                                                           2.


W.  The Comstock Lode:


1.  The “Comstock Lode” was the largest _______________ strike in American history.  The


     strike took place in 1859 in _______________.


X.  The Pony Express:


1.  The “Pony Express” was a _______________ company that linked California with the East. 


2.  The “Pony Express” could deliver a letter or package to California in less than _____ days

     while the regular U.S. mail would take over three weeks.


3.  The “Pony Express” used a system of numerous _______________, horses, and


     _______________ to accomplish this dangerous ride.


4.  After just over a year in business however, the “Pony Express” was put out of business by the




Y.  The Telegraph:


1.  The “Telegraph” or _______________ was invented by _______________ and was   

     connected to California in 1861 allowing for quick messages to and from the East.


Z.  The Transcontinental Railroad:


1.  During the 1850’s, Congress debated the best route to construct a _______________ to the

     Pacific from the eastern part of the country.  Wherever the railroad was build would mean lots


     of _______________ for the areas and cities near the tracks.


2.  With the start of the Civil War in 1861, a _______________ was finally chosen for the railroad.


3.  “Transcontinental” means: ____________________________________________________.


4.  Two companies known as the _______________ Pacific and the _______________ Pacific

     were given the difficult job of building railroad.


5.  Many immigrants from _______________ were used to construct this monumental


     accomplishment and the work was not only difficult but _______________.


6.  Finally the two companies met at _______________ in Utah and the nation was connect by



7.  During the construction of the “Transcontinental Railroad”, there were many


     _______________ associated with its completion.