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Trail Of Tears

Increasing conflict with the Native Americans occurred as more Americans made the move west. Settlers requested the federal government relocate the Native Americans to the Southeast in the land west of the Mississippi River. Congress eventually created the Indian Territory in 1834, in what is now present-day Oklahoma. After the Cherokee Nation refused to turn over their land, force was threatened by the army. The Cherokees were marched west during brutal weather in an event known as the Trail of Tears due to the thousands of Cherokees who died along the way.

Jackson was elected to a second term in 1832. Four years later, Martin Van Buren, a close friend of Jackson’s was elected. Within two months of taking office, Van Buren saw the country slide into a severe economic depression. William Henry Harrison, a Whig, won the presidency in 1840; but unfortunately died just four weeks later. His vice-president, John Tyler took the oath of office. Within four years, a Democratic candidate had taken over the White House; James K. Polk.

Throughout the first half of the 19th century, Americans continued in their expansion westward. Many made a living by trapping beavers and trading furs. These mountain men also explored the trails, valleys and mountains that formed the West. Missionaries established missions to convert the Native Americans to Christianity and pioneers by the thousands searched for rich farmland, especially in the Pacific Northwest. Over the course of the next few years, many more would follow. As an increasing number of settlers began to move into Oregon Territory, America clashed with Britain over the northern border between the United States and Canada. Eventually the two countries were able to reach a compromise and the boundary was established at the 49th parallel.

Americans also pushed westward in Texas, where land was offered to any settlers who were willing to bring their families with them. By the year 1830, the number of Americans in Texas far outweighed the number of Mexicans. Recognizing the threat, the Mexican government limited U.S. immigration with Texas as well as trade. American settlers living in Texas began to call for independence. In 1836, a small force managed to hold off the Mexican army for almost two weeks in the Battle of the Alamo. Although they were eventually defeated and died in the battle, the courage and bravery of those soldiers inspired many more in their fight for independence from Mexico. The Texans finally managed to achieve victory just a few short weeks later in the Battle of San Jacinto. For several years Texas remained an independent Republic before finally being annexed as a state and joining the United States in 1845.


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