Your cart

Your shopping cart is empty.

Subtotal $0.00
Shipping $0.00

Westward Expansion

Selected and introduced by David Tucker

Overview & List of Documents

The first Europeans to land in America traveled west to do so. Many of their descendants continued moving west for the next 250 years and after. They were joined by other Europeans, as well as African-Americans and Native Americans—some moved forcibly. In time their westward movement brought them into contact with Pacific Islanders and Asians, some immigrants to the expanding United States. The documents in this collection present the reasons Americans gave for and against westward expansion and their thoughts on the political, moral, and economic issues it raised. Preeminent among these issues were slavery and the fate of the Native Americans. Americans were also concerned about where and when westward expansion should end and the effect that its ending would have on America. The documents and images in this volume also present the experiences of settlers, explorers, farmers, former slaves, and Indians struggling to build new lives in the west or hold on to aspects of old lives, as westward expansion transformed the land, those who lived on it, and the United States itself.

  • The Northwest Ordinance, July 13, 1787
  • Secretary of War Henry Knox, Report on Indian Affairs, December 29, 1794
  • President Thomas Jefferson, Letter to John Breckinridge, August 12, 1803
  • Senator Uriah Tracy, Speech on the Constitutionality of the Louisiana Purchase, November 3, 1803
  • John Quincy Adams, The Transcontinental Treaty and American Expansion, 1818–1823
  • President James Monroe, Seventh Annual Message to Congress (Monroe Doctrine), December 2, 1823
  • President Andrew Jackson, Second Annual Message to Congress, December 6, 1830
  • Indian Removal, 1830–1838
  • Worcester v. Georgia, March 23, 1832
  • Narcissa Whitman, Letters and Journals from the Oregon Trail, 1836
  • President John Tyler, Special Message to Congress (Tyler Doctrine), December 30, 1842
  • Henry Clay, Letter to the Editors of the National Intelligencer Opposing the Annexation of Texas, April 17, 1844
  • Secretary of State John C. Calhoun, Letter to Richard Pakenham, British Minister to the United States, April 18, 1844
  • John O’Sullivan, “Annexation,” July 1845
  • President James K. Polk, Special Message to Congress on Mexican Relations, May 11, 1846
  • Representative Abraham Lincoln, Speech on the War with Mexico, January 12, 1848
  • President James K. Polk, Annual Message to Congress, December 5, 1848
  • Senator William Seward, “The Destiny of America,” Speech at the Dedication of Capitol University, Columbus, Ohio, September 14, 1853
  • Senator R. M. T. Hunter, Speech on the Kansas-Nebraska Act and Racial Hierarchy in International Relations, February 24, 1854
  • Vigilance Committee of San Francisco, Proclamation, June 9, 1856
  • Senator Charles Sumner, Speech on the Cession of Russian America to the United States, April 8, 1867
  • Ely S. Parker, Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, December 23, 1869
  • The Visit of Red Cloud to Washington, D.C., June 1870
  • The Farmers’ Movement, 1873–1874
  • C. D. Wilber, The Great Valleys and Prairies of Nebraska and the Northwest, 1881
  • President Chester A. Arthur, First Annual Message to Congress, December 6, 1881
  • Proceedings of the Fifth Annual Meeting of the Lake Mohonk Conference of the Friends of the Indian, “Americanizing the Indian,” September 28–30, 1887
  • The Ghost Dance Religion among the Sioux, 1889–90
  • Rev. F. W. Gunsaulus, Mormonism and Jesuitism, October 14, 1890
  • Plenty Horses Kills Lieutenant Casey, January 7, 1891
  • Frederick Jackson Turner, The Significance of the Frontier in American History, Address to the American Historical Association, 1893
  • Rachel Bella Calof, My Story, 1894–1917
  • The Annexation of Hawaii, 1897–1898
  • Senator Albert J. Beveridge, “The March of the Flag,” Campaign Speech, September 16, 1898
  • William Jennings Bryan, Address Accepting Democratic Presidential Nomination, August 8, 1900
  • Downes v. Bidwell, May 27, 1901
  • President Theodore Roosevelt, Seventh Annual Message to Congress, December 3, 1907