Tuesday, August 6, 2019

The American West Essay Example for Free

The American West Essay The American West was a main focal point of the elections and American society during the Jacksonian period. It was an idea that stirred emotions and the imagination of Americans around the country, and in the end it would represent a period in American history of transition into a new era of politics. This period would see more changes in the American way of life than any other period because the very geography of the nation was changing, which in turn changed the political aspects of American society, particularly in regards to the idea of a relatively equal North, free states versus South, slave states. As America expanded into the west, with fewer and fewer American territories accepting slavery at their birth, the country was divided even more and would begin the process of disunion in many ways. The Jacksonian society was really the first time in American history that the west was opened widely to expansion, and many Americans were desperate to leave the overpopulated, over-hunted, and overly expensive cities and towns of the East. People sought a better life in the west, where land was free for the taking as long as you were willing to work for it. The lore of the west added to the interest in settling the new frontiers, and Jacksonian society would have found the tales of outlaws and Indians, free land and the adventures of the Oregon Trail as fascinating, fueling their imagination. To Northerners who were stuck in large, over-populated areas where land was hard to buy the west represented their ability to live their dreams. To the South, the west represented America’s ability to create more states that were agrarian based like themselves, and the possibility of more slave states to help give them power in the American government. During the period of American history that spanned 1820 through 1857 the issue of slave versus free states became increasingly important. Western expansion created the political opportunity to either create more free states, which would mean that slave states felt they could not get equal say in government, or more slave states, which the majority of Northerners were against because they despised the institution of slavery. It was a battle of the industrialized North versus the agrarian, slave labor based South. The issue of slavery had become a hot topic in American government. For many years the country had been divided pretty equally in terms of free versus slave states, but with the western territories beginning to grow, expand and seek statehood, the concept of allowing states to enter the Union as a slave state or a free one became increasingly important. The North did not feel any of these states should be allowed to enter the Union as slave states, because the majority of Northerners favored abolition or, at the very least, the ability to not allow slavery within their direct borders. The South did not want the western states to be allowed to enter as free states because it would unfairly balance the scales in favor of abolition. Talk of secession emerged partly because of the westward expansion that was so important of a movement during the Jacksonian period. In the end, American society and, in particular, Jacksonian society saw many changes that would eventually lead to the secession of the South from the Union and the American Civil War. These changes began primarily because of Westward expansion, a phenomenon that stemmed from factors happening in the Industrialized North, the agrarian South, and the over-population and lack of affordable land in the East in general. Disunion would be the eventual outcome, but it very much can trace its beginnings to the migration into the American West.

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