In the early years of the American government, expansion of the United States was a very big issue. Our countries leaders believed in Manifest Destiny, or the right to rule from the tip of the east to the western shores. There were many different people who supported this idea for many different reasons. These groups of people included economists, militants, intellectuals, journalists, as well as religious leaders and missionaries.
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Economists pushed for the expansion of American soil. With more land came more worth. There would be more room for settlers and immigrants to build homes on. New towns would develop, and along with that came businesses. The more business, the more money, the more power and economic stability. One supporter from this point of view was Thomas Hart Benton. Benton preferred gaining territory through occupation rather than conflict. His ideas were used to create the Homestead Act of 1862, granting free land to settlers so long as they stayed on it for five years. He also encouraged the creation of overland transportation making travel to the west shorter and easier. Benton was chairman of the Committee on Indian Affairs as well, and strived towards the removal of Native Americans to make room for the white settlers. He might not have had the most honest intentions, but he was driven to expand. His Son-in-Law followed in his footsteps and is well known for his conquests in California over the Spanish. With enough land and citizens, the U.S. could become a very stable and powerful nation.
While journalists wrote of gold and free land, and the militia fought with the Native Americans all over the continent, religious leaders and missionaries began to act as well. Missionaries spread out far and wide, trying to save the "savage" Native Americans from hell. They decided that the Native American way was wrong, and that they had to save these people from themselves. Many socially rejected religious leaders on the other hand saw the expansion as freedom from persecution. One such man, Brigham Young, was waiting for just such an opportunity. Young was the leader of the Mormon church. At this time the Mormons were feared because of their un-Christian ways. Young determined to lead his followers far west, where church members could gather without interruption. Other religions wished to follow in the same footsteps. New land meant freedom from the violence and negative attitude of others, and they could actually build communities based on their religions.
Later came a very important advocate for more expansion, President Theodore Roosevelt. He wanted to further expand the U.S., thus forth furthering the United States trade and power. Roosevelt wanted the U.S. was to be strong. He felt that through more expansion, the U.S. could become an even bigger and richer world power. As the president, he had very much success in doing so.
There were many reasons for expansion into the west, and everybody had their own. Religion, military, and economy were just a few. Although a lot of the methods used to expand were not quite honorable, they worked. And, U.S. citizens got what they wanted. Because of the expansion into the west, we have one of the strongest military powers in the world, along with a very strong economy, and open religious worship everywhere in the country. Those who dreamt of expansion, and those who made it happen helped this country succeed.
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