The westward expansion is one of the most fascinating and significant topics in the history of the United States. Nowhere else has an area of equal size been settled by small groups and individuals. Westward expansion helped stimulate the American economy. At the time, progress was beneficial for the United States, but those benefits came with a cost, such cost that instead of advancements and developments being advantageous for humanity, it also became a harmful process in which numerous people were affected in many facets of life. This all means that progress is remarkable to achieve, but when achieved, people have to realize the process they had to do to achieve it, which was stepping on other people to get there.
To gain access to the western part of the country the white settlers had to pass through the Native Americans. While pushing westward the white culture clashed with the plain Indians and their culture. As a result of these bloody battles and the white settlers that were victorious, the Native Americans were restricted to small portions of their land. The government supported assimilation, which was the plan to unite the Native American culture with the white one.
White settlers started moving westward to settle the land gained by the victory over the Native Americans. A major factor that caused this major movement, other than by the victory of the war, was the Homestead Act. This act provided and granted 160 acres of free land to any citizen who was the head of a house or family. While moving, the settlers were challenged by the new environment of the plains and they had to start adapting to the new environment. While moving west, all farmers were supported by the government on technical aspects and on agricultural education. (Worth)
After settlements were established, farmers opposed the government. The farmers united to form their opposing union that would lead their opposing movement and solve their common problems that they had with economic distress and railroads. The grange and farmers´ alliances surged with the quest to get the government to support them. The rise of the Populist Party caused a scare and panic to other government groups, but it didn´t last, the Populist Party collapsed. (Mountjoy)
Natural resources were the main reason why there was a westward expansion in the first place. Those resources were key to the development of progress as a whole of the whole nation. Black gold, known as oil, was used for many things including gasoline and refinements. Also steel was important because it was found that it was light, rust resistant and more flexible than iron. New uses for natural resources were key to the progress.
Railroads played an extremely important role in providing national transportation, where time and space were conserved. Due to the creation of the railroads, opportunities surged, meaning new towns and markets were being made around the railroads, construction and manufacturing factories arose around the area as well. Even though this process of using the railroads was a big step in development for society, the working conditions on the immigrants that worked on the railroads was extremely harsh. In general, apart from the progress railroads promoted, it caused panic and national problems to many. (Digital history)
With the needs of manufacturing the natural resources, immigrants from all over the world came to America in search for job opportunities. Nativism affected the Chinese immigrants in search for jobs because the white Americans saw the Chinese immigrants as invaders to their jobs. The immigrants needed the jobs so much that they would work cheap to gain money, and this is where the politicians come in and play their role. Politicians, knowing how bad the immigrants needed their jobs, established cheap labor to many immigrants, and from that they gained a considerable amount of money and became very wealthy. Also these business owners