America Moves West Reconstruction Essay

Pages: 4 (1371 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 2  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: American History

With the discovery of the vast resources, coupled with the technology of industrialization and transportation, the stage was set for mass immigration and movement Westward (Hansen 2007; Nivola 1986).

Immigration -- After the Civil War, America's huge need for workers and industrialization was filled with a wave of immigrants arriving from Europe (about 25 million between 1866 and 1915). This was also caused, in part, by political, social, and agricultural problems in Europe. Earlier immigration had been primarily from Northern Europe, but the wave of workers post-Civil War was from Southern and Eastern Europe. Most were poor, uneducated, and pushed out of their own countries. Because of transportation issues, most immigrants arrived at Ellis Island, New York, and only slowly worked their way out of the urban areas of the eastern seaboard. However, life was so grim in these urban slums, that by the 1890s a great majority of immigrants used the railroad to move west.

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Displacement of Native populations -- Wherever the population wished to settle; to farm, ranch, or build urban areas, something had to be moved. In 1845, New York newspaper editor John O'Sullivan coined the phrase "Our Manifest Destiny" as a way of supporting the continual territorial expansion of the U.S. This was the idea that Americans had the divine right to expand west, promote Eurocentric cultures, and annex lands that had been inhabited for centuries by other peoples. This age not only continued to move native peoples off their lands, but was a way to find and use the best lands for white settlers (Tignor,, 2000, p. 274).

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Homestead Act of 1862 -- As a push to send settlers westward (outside the original 13 colonies), the United States enacted a Federal law that gave an application title to free land. The act required three steps -- application, improvement of the land, and the filing of a deed title. Anyone who had never been part of the Confederacy, including freed slaves, could file an application. The intent of the Homestead Act was to grant land for agriculture and improve said land. Instead, in many areas east of the Rocky Mountains, it was used to control resources (e.g. water). Between 1882 and 1896, a total of ten percent of all lands within the United States were counted in the Homestead Act -- with an eventual total of 1.6 million homesteads. The Act has been blamed for contributing to the dust bowl of the 1930s because of so many farms with poor farming practices. The Act was not overturned until 1976 with the Federal Land Policy and Management Act in which the government believed that the best use of public lands was under governmental control (Potter, 1997; Teaching With Documents: The Homestead Act of 1862, 2007).


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McNeese, T. (2006). The Transcontinenal Railroad and Western Expansion. Enslow Publications.

Nivola, P. (1986). The New Protectionism: U.S. Trade Policy in Historical Perspective. Political Science Quarterly, 101 (4): 577-600.

Potter, L.A. And W. Schamel.(1997). The Homestead Act of 1862. Social Education . 61:(6), 359-64.

Tignor, J., (2000). Worlds Together, Worlds Apart. New York: Norton.

1860 - Much of the NW and West were still territories; Texas, California, and Oregon had joined the Union. Alaska was still Russian territory. Note the disputed areas just south of Kansas and West of the Indian Territory.

1866 -- Nevada's border moved, territories were aligning to what would become states, areas of dispute still existed, foundries of the pre-war South re-established.

1898 -- Westward expansion via settlement and railroads leaves all but three territories converted to states continentally; Alaska and Hawaii now territories. [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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How to Cite "America Moves West Reconstruction" Essay in a Bibliography:

APA Style

America Moves West Reconstruction.  (2012, March 11).  Retrieved March 7, 2021, from

MLA Format

"America Moves West Reconstruction."  11 March 2012.  Web.  7 March 2021. <>.

Chicago Style

"America Moves West Reconstruction."  March 11, 2012.  Accessed March 7, 2021.