Why did Americans move west in the 1800s?


Quick Answer

Americans moved to the West in the 1800s because people wanted to get a fresh start and wanted to be able to buy their own land, as well as to try new economic possibilities, such as farming and gold mining. It all began when President Thomas Jefferson bought the Louisiana Purchase in 1803 from the French government.

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Full Answer

In 1853, the Gadsden Purchase provided Americans with an additional 30,000 miles of land from Mexico to settle. This land included the southern parts of the states of Arizona and New Mexico. In addition to all of the opportunity that the new land offered, many Americans felt that it was their duty as Americans to settle this new land and bring democracy to all of the people living there.

One of the problems that the United States government faced during this westward expansion was the problem of slavery. The issue had been debated hotly by states for several years at this point with some states being pro-slavery, while others were anti-slavery. In order to keep the peace among the states, the government had decided during the Missouri Compromise that Maine would be a free state and Missouri would be a slave state. It was also decided that slavery would not be allowed north of the 36 degrees 30' parallel in Missouri.

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