the coolezt cthd Essay

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Section 3: Manifest Destiny
One American’s Story
In 1821, Stephen F. Austin led the first of several groups of American settlers to a fertile area along the Brazos River
Drawn by the promise of inexpensive land and economic opportunity, Austin established a colony of American settlers in Tejas, or Texas, then the northernmost province of the Mexican state of Coahuila
However, Austin’s plans didn’t work out as well as he had hoped; 12 years later, he found himself in a Mexican prison and his new homeland in an uproar
After his release, Austin spoke about the impending crisis between Texas and Mexico
Austin’s prediction was correct
War did break out in Texas—twice. First, Texans rebelled against the Mexican government
Then, the United States went to war against Mexico over the boundaries of Texas.
These conflicts were the climax of decades of competition over the western half of North America—a competition that involved the United States, Mexico, Native Americans, and various European nations
The end result of the competition would be U.S. control over a huge swath of the continent, from the Atlantic to the Pacific
As various presidents established policies in the early 19th century that expand- ed U.S. territory, American settlers pushed first into the Northwest Territory and then headed farther west
For a quarter century after the War of 1812, only a few Americans explored the West
Then, in the 1840s, expan- sion fever gripped the country
Many Americans began to believe that their movement westward was predestined by God
The phrase “manifest destiny” expressed the belief that the United States was ordained to expand to the Pacific Ocean and into Mexican and Native American territory
Many Americans also believed that this destiny was manifest, or obvious and inevitable
Most Americans had practical reasons for moving west. For settlers, the abundance of land was the greatest attraction
As the number of western settlers climbed, merchants and manufacturers followed, seeking new markets for their goods
Many Americans also trekked west because of personal economic problems in the East
The panic of 1837, for example, had disastrous consequences and convinced many Americans that they would be better off attempting a fresh start in the West
The settlers and traders who made the trek west used a series of old Native American trails as well as new routes
One of the busiest routes was the Santa Fe Trail, which stretched 780 miles from Independence, Missouri, to Santa Fe in the Mexican province of New Mexico
Each spring from 1821 through the 1860s, American traders loaded their covered wagons with goods and set off toward Santa Fe
For about the first 150 miles, traders traveled individually
After that, fearing attacks by Native Americans, traders banded into organized groups of up to 100 wagons
Cooperation, though, came to an abrupt end when Santa Fe came into view
Traders raced off on their own as each tried to be the first to arrive. After a few days of trading, they loaded their wagons with goods, restocked their animals, and headed back to Missouri
The Oregon Trail stretched from Independence, Missouri, to Oregon City, Oregon
It was blazed in 1836 by two Methodist missionaries named Marcus and Narcissa Whitman
By driving their wagon as far as Fort Boise (near present-day Boise, Idaho), they proved that wagons could travel on the Oregon Trail
Following the Whitmans’ lead, many pioneers migrated west on the Oregon Trail
Some bought “prairie schooners,” wooden-wheeled wagons covered with sailcloth and pulled by oxen
Most walked, however, pushing handcarts loaded with a few precious possessions, food, and other supplies
The trip took months, even if all went well.
One group migrated westward along the Oregon Trail to escape persecution
These people were the Mormons, a religious community that would play a major