HIST312: Capitalism and Democracy in America

Unit 7: Westward Expansion   Part of America’s continued economic success is due to the availability of land; the West functioned not just as a place, but also as an idea of what the ideal American society would look like.  In theory, it was a place where the fluidity of society allowed anyone to reinvent himself or herself and rise from pauperism to prosperity.  To most Americans, this rags-to-riches tale represented true democracy.  Reality often diverged from the ideal, however, and the West was violent, dangerous, and often as undemocratic as any city in the East.

Unit 7 Time Advisory
This unit should take you 3 hours to complete.

☐    Subunit 7.1: 3 hours

Unit7 Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this unit, students will be able to:

  • Identify and define the Manifest Destiny.
  • Identify the causes and consequences of the Mexican American War as they relate to American economics and democracy.
  • Identify the consequences of the Gold Rush with regard to American economics and democracy.

7.1 Overview of Westward Expansion, 1840-1860   - Reading: Wikibooks’ US History: “Westward Expansion and Manifest Destiny” Link: Wikibooks’ US History:Westward Expansion and Manifest Destiny” (PDF)
Instructions: Please read the entirety of the website in order to get a sense of the progress of the relationship between westward expansion, the possession of land, and democracy in American history.
About the link: This online text was developed by Wikibooks as an open educational resource for use in undergraduate history courses.
Terms of Use: The Wikibooks article above is released under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0 (HTML).  You can find the original version of this article here (HTML).

7.1.1 Mexican/American War   - Reading: PBS: “The US-Mexican War” Link: PBS:US-Mexican War” (HTML)
Instructions: Please read the sections labeled “Prelude to War,” War (1846-1848),” and “Aftermath.”   (You can navigate back and forth using the toggle bar on the left hand side).
About the link: This online text was developed as an open educational resource designed to supplement PBS’ documentary US-Mexican War, 1846-1848.
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

7.1.2 The Gold Rush   - Lecture: C-SPAN/Kepler’s Books, H.W. Brands “The Age of Gold” Link:  C-SPAN/Kepler’s Books, H.W. Brands “The Age of Gold” (Youtube)

 Instructions: Please watch the entire 60-minute discussion to
better understand the California Gold Rush and its relationship to
the expansion of democracy.  
 About the link: This website an entire series of lectures produced
by C-SPAN and Kepler’s Books.  
 Terms of Use: The material above was produced by C-SPAN, with
permission granted for non-commercial use with no modifications to
the material. The original version can be found
here <http://www.c-spanvideo.org/program/AgeofG>.