Go West: U.S. Westward Expansion - Summary

Before the Civil War, people in America knew a transcontinental railroad was needed to better unite the country. But slavery issues, among others, kept North and South from agreeing on the best route.

Once Southern States seceded from the Union, Congress could proceed as its remaining members wished. Selected routes would invade land belonging to Native Americans.

On May 10, 1869, the last spike of the transcontinental railroad - a ceremonial golden one - was set into the tie at Promontory, Utah. America’s east and west coasts were connected for the first time. A one-word telegram let the nation know. It said: “Done.”

After the track was joined, people seeking a new life in the West dramatically transformed the country. As a result, the Navajo and Apache would lose their homes and be forced to live on reservations. Shoshone would beg at train stations. Native-American cliff dwellings became a thing of the past.

In this story behind America’s westward expansion, step back in time to visit the unspoiled west. Study beautiful drawings commissioned by the U.S. government. Examine the railroad as it was built by immigrant Chinese laborers. See pictures of the “land grab” days, when land was “free.” Watch an animation, created by the U.S. Military Academy, which graphically depicts the high cost of “free” land for Native Americans.

And ... examine the progression of trains from 1630 (when horses pulled carts and wagons to and from English coal mines on heavy-plank wooden roads) to 1758 (when people in Middleton, England first established a railroad) to 1774 (when James Watt, a Scotsman, invented the first stationary steam engine) to1807 (when Mumbles Railway - in Swansea, Wales - first carried railroad passengers).

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5190stories and lessons created

Original Release: Aug 01, 2005

Updated Last Revision: Nov 09, 2016

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"Go West: U.S. Westward Expansion" AwesomeStories.com. Aug 01, 2005. Feb 27, 2020.
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