The USA in the 19th Century 1803-1890

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  • Created by: Jessica
  • Created on: 10-04-13 11:11

Assess the main factors that contributed to the opening up of the West in this period


- 1804 Jefferson secretly secured $2500 from Congress to fund Lewis and Clark Expedition (after Louisana Purchase)

- found the route to the Pacific via Oregon: would later open up Oregon Trail

- opened up interior and came back with vital intelligence and love for the rich lands of the West

- brought back maps and detailed scientific knowledge

- 1805 Lieutenant Zebulon Pike explored upper Mississippi and in 1806 trecked to eastern Rockies

- Jedediah Smith (worked for a fur trading company) was the first whtie man to cross the Rockies

- discovered South Pass through Rockies (most wagons used this route)

- Importance:

- Laid down foundations for expansion: families/companies/Manifest Destiny

Fur Trade:

- 1820 - 1840 fur trading flourished as fur became fashionable

- set up forts (eg Fort Laramie on the Oregon Trail) where trappers, Indians and merchants could meet and trade

- some worked for big companies eg. William Henry Ashley's Company/ American Fur Trade Company 

- called 'mountain men' and spent most of the time in the mountains. 

- Importance:

- merchants brought back the mountain men's stories of furtile lands and prosperity


- 1860s - 5 million longhorn cattle in Texas - needed to be transported to the North for selling (bigger profit)

- 1867 transported them by Abilene, Kansas - and then railroad to Chicago

- in 1867 Abilene had 35,000 cattle pass through

- in 1871 Abilene had 700,000 cattle pass through

- Cow towns sprung up: Abilene, Dodge City (Kansas), Miles city (Montana)

- Importance:

- brought settlement and identity to Texas and South-West (Texas was admitted into US system after cattle frontier opened up)


- 'Forty-niners' - flocked to California following discovery of gold and Polk's announcement

- mostly individuals (prospectors) not companies yet

- gold and silver strieks in 1860s and 1870s

- Comstock Lode, Nevada 1859

- Gold in Dakota 1874

- pattern of mining:

- first prospectors and individuals - 'placer mining' - surface deposit gold

- set up camps - predominantly male and lawless pioneers

- eg. Virginia City (emerged from discovery of Comstock Lode) had a population of 38,000 by 1878 - four banks, six churches and 150 liquor stores.

- gradually surface deposits dried up - big companies for deep level mining developed: industry grew massively developing machinary, skill and capital outlay. (eg Anaconda Mining Coorperation of Montana)

- Importance:

- opened up areas that wouldn't have developed agriculturally eg. Nevada

- California

- other side of continent therefore new trails/transport routes became more necessary

- within 2 years of discovery of gold 90,000 settlers had moved there

- became a state without going through process of organizing itself into a territory in 1850


- farmers cultivated lands around and beyond Mississippi

- created wheat belt which, by end of Civil War, supplied whole of US and massive global market

- Government grants and loans made it…





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