What were the benefits and downfalls of the Westward Expansion?


The Westward Expansion was a time in the 19 century when many settlers moved West to look for opportunities to flourish economically. Immigrants gained better life and opportunities from expansion. People believed that they could own land and make huge money in the West.  During this time, trails were built by pioneers and different immigrants to be used as alternate routes for transport. It was a way for a lot of these pioneers to use the natural land for resources. Between 1844 and 1848, the United States expanded its boundaries into Texas, some areas in the Southwest, and even in the Pacific Northwest. Texas was acquired by an invasion; Oregon and Washington were won by negotiation with Great Britain. As far as Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, and Wyoming were all gained after America won the war against Mexico.

Ways the different people suffered

The Westward Expansion of the United States was the forced relocation of many Native American tribes. Many of them were forced to move into the reservations. During the Westward Expansion, the talk of slavery got worse, and it made things more complicated for the slaves. Tension arose between the North and South that eventually caused the outbreak of the civil war and the collapse of the American democracy.

Manifest Destiny

Manifest Destiny was an opportunity for the new Americans to settle west. U.S. President Thomas Jefferson’s Louisiana Purchase in 1803 had doubled the size of the country, sparking people’s desire to move west. The increasing number of settlements along the country’s borders caused friction with others. Once the U.S. government got involved, it resulted in the annexation of more territory. Manifest Destiny was also seen as motivation to expand for some people who needed it to prosper economically. Many Americans saw this as an opportunity for their educational growth, use of modern technology, and civilization to the West and driving away the American Indians because they felt that they were uncivilized.

The Gold Rush

On January 24, 1848, before ending the Mexican War, James W. Marshall, a carpenter and handyman, discovered gold. “In 1849, 80,000 men arrived in California” Some of them were Americans. Some of them migrated from places such as Britain, Australia, Germany, France, Latin America, and China. Farmers and business owners gave up their businesses to start over. Within a year, California’s population increased from 14,000 to 100,000. Not many women arrived to California approximately 700 arrived in the year 1849. In 1850 women only made up only 8 per cent of California’s population. The gold rush caused California to become wild, unruly, ethnically diverse, and violent due to everyone looking for the same thing.

Conflicts that affected the Westward Expansion:

Fifteen years before the Civil War was initiated, the war against Mexico happened, and it added half a million square miles of territory to the United States. (territories listed in the introduction.) The cause of the Mexican War was the American pioneers moving the areas claimed by Mexico. Due to the rapid expansion of the United States, it caused an uproar about the issue of slavery because the new states were added to the Union. Unfortunately, this caused the start to the Civil War.

Downfalls of the Westward Expansion

Farmers did not exactly benefit from the Westward Expansion. With the new technology, the expensive machinery put a dent in their finances. There also were a lot of high taxes, and the shipping costs were amounting to more than what they were getting back. Another downfall of this particular time frame was the conditions the pioneers had to travel through. The conditions in the West were harsh, and not all the people migrating were used to these conditions. Some of these conditions ranged from blizzards to intense winds and tornadoes. People often bought the land out west and later found out that farming was not the best. They suffered and died of hunger. Many abandoned their land and moved back to the east coast.


Mintz, S., & McNeil, S. (2018). Manifest Destiny.Digital History. Retrieved (December 15th, 2021) from

Mintz, S., & McNeil, S. (2018). The Mexican War.Digital History. Retrieved (December 15th, 2021) from

Mintz, S., & McNeil, S. (2018). The Gold Rush.Digital History. Retrieved (December 15th, 2021) from

Mintz, S., & McNeil, S. (2018). Digital History. Retrieved (December 16th, 2021) from