The expansion of America westward



During the 1830's and 1840's, the settlement of the broad territory of the West had been taking place with great rapidity, the pioneer emigration, which had log since crossed the Alleghenies and spread throughout the eastern valley of the Mississippi, now extending widely westward of that river towards the infertile barrier of the Rocky Mountains. The movement had even reached the Pacific, through the incitements of the fur-trade, and of certain advantages offered by the rich plains of California. Yet the American population of this region was but sparse in 1848, in which year California became a part of the United States, as a result of the Mexican War. Emigration thither now proceeded more rapidly, while the neighboring territory of Utah became the land of refuge of the strange sect of Mormons who had made their way thither in 1846 and founded Salt Lake City in 1847. The settlement of the Pacific region, however, must have taken place very slowly had it not been for the discovery of gold in the mountain region of that territory. The cry of "Gold," that rang far and wide throughout the land in the summer and autumn of 1848 gave rise to such a fever of emigration as the world has seldom known. Over land and over sea thousands of eager treasurer-seekers flocked to this new land of promise, and within one year of American occupation the land filled up more than it had done in three centuries of the drowsy Spanish rule.





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