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Document 1: Legacy

Long before John OSullivan gave it a name in 1845, the spirit of Manifest Destiny lived in the
hearts and minds of the Europeans that came to North America. Columbus, the Conquistadors,
and the Jamestown settlers all came across the Atlantic to claim and control new lands. The
Puritans, with their elite religious beliefs, came with a mission to create a city upon a hill,
believing that the eyes of the world were watching them. Colonists rebelled against Britain
when they were prohibited from moving west of the Appalachian Mountains.

This thirst for more land and power existed in the explorers, settlers, colonists and patriots who
had inhabited America and this legacy was passed down to their descendants who now, in the
middle of the 19th century, were reaching for the Pacific Ocean.

Document 2: Population Growth and Urban Population

Source: United States History to 1877, McGraw-Hill, page 349

Document 3: Financial Troubles and The Appeal of the West

The United States experienced financial

problems in 1819 and 1837. These depressions
caused land values to drop, banks to fail, and
people to lose jobs. Between 1820 and 1850,
approximately 4 million Americans headed west
in search of a fresh start. Land was cheap,
sometimes even free. The west was a chance
to advance yourself through farming or
business. White male landowners enjoyed
political and social status. They could vote and
were viewed as independent.

If that werent enough, some 19th century

artists like Thomas Cole were painting images
of pioneer life that romanticized a simpler, purer way of life than many Americans lived in the
busy towns and cities in the east. The idea of returning to nature appealed to many Americans
who dreamed of living peacefully with the land instead of being hemmed in by neighbors.

Document 4: The Monroe Doctrine

Many Americans believed it was their God-given

mission to spread democracy around the world.
The Monroe Doctrine sent a strong message to
European powers to keep out of Americas
backyard. While this message was meant to
protect Latin American democracies, the warning
also unofficially served as a way of claiming the
western hemisphere for the U.S. so that it would
not have to compete with foreign nations for any
land that it might want later.
Document 5: Technological Innovations

Steamboats made transportation of goods and people easier, faster,

and cheaper. Canals were dug that connected eastern markets to
towns and cities in the west in places where there was no river. For
example, the Erie Canal linked New York City with the Great Lakes

Roads, like the National Road, were also being built that connected the
east to the west. Additionally, technological innovations like steam
engine-powered trains and the telegraph made transportation and
communication between the east and west easier and faster than ever

Document 6: Adding New States and the Spread of Slavery

After the Revolutionary War ended,

Americans wanted to start moving out
west. But once they did, which state
would they belong to? Would they be
represented in Congress? The
Northwest Ordinance, also known as
The Ordinance of 1787, is a document
that came up with the answers to
these questions.

It created a process that allowed

settlers who had moved into western
territories to apply for statehood, once
they had met the requirements. Once
this new state was added to the union,
it could then elect senators and
representatives to serve in the U.S. Senate. Having this political power meant having a say in
the decisions the country made. As the nation began to spread to the west, each new western
state added its voice and its votes to the debate on the spread of slavery.

Southerners anxious to enlarge the slave empire were among the most ardent [passionate]
champions of the crusade for more territory. New slave states would enhance the Souths
political power in Washington and, equally important, serve as an outlet for its growing slave