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Westward Expansion

About the Westward Expansion Lesson

An overview of the major factors that ultimately allowed the United States to expand from the Atlantic coast to the Pacific. Can be used as a general overview or it provides bases for an in-depth study of the Westward Expansion.

• To identify the following individuals and their roles in the Louisiana Purchase: Thomas Jefferson, Lewis and Clark, and Sacagawea

• To compare the area of the United States before and after the Louisiana Purchase

• To be able to discuss the causes and effects of Westward Expansion

• To describe how new forms of transportation and communication impacted the Western Expansion of the United States.

Suggested Grades
4th Grade
5th Grade
6th Grade

What did the United States look like before Westward Expansion?
In 1803, Thomas Jefferson, the third president of the United States, purchased 828,000 square miles from France. This was called the Louisiana Purchase and it contained all of present-day Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, parts of Minnesota that were south of the Mississippi River, most of North Dakota, nearly all of South Dakota, northeastern New Mexico, northern Texas, the portions of Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado east of the Continental Divide, and Louisiana on both sides of the Mississippi River, including the city of New Orleans. Before the Louisiana Purchase, the United States had only 13 states.

Why did President Jefferson make such a huge purchase?
The main reason President Jefferson purchased this land is that New Orleans was the main port for trade.




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