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  • Trail of Tears


    Trail of Tears

    As Americans settled new land in the southeast, politicians discussed what to do with the Indian tribes they encountered. Some advocated civilizing them—converting them to Christianity and a European-American way of life. Others, including President Andrew Jackson, favored forcible removalof the Indians to lands in the west. Removal won out.

    Some tribes signed treaties to leave, others fought and were defeated. The Cherokee tribe, however, was removed by an illegitimate treaty. In 1833 several Cherokee, who did not represent the tribe as a whole, signed the Treaty of New Echota, agreeing to vacate the land. Other members of the tribe signed a petition protesting that that they had not authorized the men to negotiate—but Congress ignored their requests. By 1838 only 2,000 Cherokee had left and 16,000 remained. The U.S. government sent in 7,000 troops to force the Cherokee to walk to their new territory in Oklahoma. During this march, which became known as the Trail of Tears, 4,000 Cherokee died of cold, starvation, and disease.

    letterLetter - Elias Boudinot

    Source: The following letter was written in 1837 by Elias Boudinot, a Cherokee who supported the Treaty of New Echota. The letter is to John Ross, the leader of the opposition. For many years, Boudinot opposed Georgia’s attempt to take Cherokee land. But by 1833, he decided that it would be best to sign a treaty supporting removal.

    ...I consider my countrymen, not as mere animals, and to judge of their happiness by their condition as such, which to be sure is bad enough, but as moral beings, to be affected for better or for worse, by moral circumstances, I say their condition is wretched. Look, my dear sir, around you, and see the progress that vice and immorality have already made!...

    If the dark picture which I have drawn here is a true one, and no candid person will say it is an exaggerated one, can we see a brighter prospect ahead? In another country, and under other circumstances, there is a better prospect. Removal, then, is the only remedy--the only practicable remedy. By it there may be finally a renovation--our people may rise from their very ashes to become prosperous and happy, and a credit to our race.... I would say to my countrymen, you among the rest, fly from the moral pestilence that will finally destroy our nation.

    What is the prospect in reference to your [John Ross's] plan of relief, if you are understood at all to have any plan? It is dark and gloomy beyond description. Subject the Cherokees to the laws of the States in their present condition? It matters not how favorable those laws may be, instead of remedying the evil you would only rivet the chains and fasten the manacles of their servitude and degradation. The final destiny of our race, under such circumstances, is too revolting to think of. Its course must be downward, until it finally becomes extinct or is merged in another race, more ignoble and more detested. Take my word for it, it is the sure consummation, if you succeed in preventing the removal of your people. The time will come when there will be only here and there those who can be called upon to sign a protest, or to vote against a treaty for their removal--when the few remnants of our once happy and improving nation will be viewed by posterity with curious and gazing interest, as relics of a brave and noble race. Are our people destined to such a catastrophe? Are we to run the race of all our brethren who have gone before us, and of whom hardly any thing is known but their name and perhaps only here and there a solitary being, walking, “as a ghost over the ashes of his fathers,” to remind a stranger that such a race once existed? May God preserve us from such a destiny.

    I have the honor to be, Sir,

    Your obedient and humble servant,



    1. Close Reading: What was life like for the Cherokee in Georgia, according to Boudinot?
    2. Close Reading: What does Boudinot hope will happen if the Cherokees move west?
    3. Close Reading: Why does Boudinot think John Ross is wrong about opposing the Treaty of New Echota?

    speechState of the Union speech – Andrew Jackson

    Source: Andrew Jackson, State of the Union speech. December 6, 1830.

    It gives me pleasure to announce to Congress that the benevolent policy of the Government, steadily pursued for nearly 30 years, in relation to the removal of the Indians beyond the white settlements is approaching to a happy consummation. Two important tribes have accepted the provision made for their removal at the last session of Congress, and it is believed that their example will induce the remaining tribes also to seek the same obvious advantages....

    Humanity has often wept over the fate of the aborigines of this country, and Philanthropy has been long busily employed in devising means to avert it, but its progress has never for a moment been arrested, and one by one have many powerful tribes disappeared from the earth. To follow to the tomb the last of his race and to tread on the graves of extinct nations excite melancholy reflections. But true philanthropy reconciles the mind to these vicissitudes as it does to the extinction of one generation to make room for another.... Philanthropy could not wish to see this continent restored to the condition in which it was found by our forefathers. What good man would prefer a country covered with forests and ranged by a few thousand savages to our extensive Republic, studded with cities, towns, and prosperous farms, embellished with all the improvements which art can devise or industry execute, occupied by more than 12,000,000 happy people, and filled with all the blessings of liberty, civilization, and religion?....

    The present policy of the Government is but a continuation of the same progressive change by a milder process. The tribes which occupied the countries now constituting the Eastern States were annihilated or have melted away to make room for the whites. The waves of population and civilization are rolling to the westward, and we now propose to acquire the countries occupied by the red men of the South and West by a fair exchange, and, at the expense of the United States, to send them to a land where their existence may be prolonged and perhaps made perpetual.

    Doubtless it will be painful to leave the graves of their fathers; but what do they more than our ancestors did or than our children are now doing?....

    Can it be cruel in this Government when, by events which it can not control, the Indian is made discontented in his ancient home to purchase his lands, to give him a new and extensive territory, to pay the expense of his removal, and support him a year in his new abode? How many thousands of our own people would gladly embrace the opportunity of removing to the West on such conditions! If the offers made to the Indians were extended to them, they would be hailed with gratitude and joy....

    Rightly considered, the policy of the General Government toward the red man is not only liberal, but generous. He is unwilling to submit to the laws of the States and mingle with their population. To save him from this alternative, or perhaps utter annihilation, the General Government kindly offers him a new home, and proposes to pay the whole expense of his removal and settlement.


    1. Close Reading: Why would he say, “Humanity has often wept over the fate of the aborigines of this country,” if he supports Indian Removal?
    2. Close Reading: Why does Jackson think the United States was better in 1830 than in 1609?
    3. Close Reading: Why does Jackson think his policy is kind and generous? Do you agree?

    material provided from http://www.ck12.org/saythanks

    • Nat Turner’s Rebellion

      Nat Turner’s Rebellion

      In 1831, a Virginia slave named Nat Turner assembled an “army” of slaves and led a rebellion that killed 55 white men, women, and children. Turner was tried, convicted, and hanged. Read the documents below and try to determine what kind of person Nat Turner was—a hero or a lunatic?

      bookConfessions of Nat Turner – Thomas R. Gray

      Source: These confessions were narrated to lawyer Thomas R. Gray in prison where Nat Turner was held after his capture on October 30, 1831. His confessions were published on November 5, 1831 for his trial. (Figure below).

      The Confessions of Nat Turner: The Leader of the Late Insurrections in Southampton, Va. As Fully and Voluntarily Made to Thomas R. Gray, in the Prison Where He Was Confined, Nov. 5, 1831, For His Trial.

      Cover Page of the Confessions of Nat Turner

      [To the Public]

      [Thomas R. Gray:]

      Public curiosity has been on the stretch to understand the origin and progress of this dreadful conspiracy, and the motives which influences its diabolical actors.... Every thing connected with this sad affair was wrapt in mystery, until Nat Turner, the leader of this ferocious band, whose name has resounded throughout our widely extended empire, was captured.... I determined for the gratification of public curiosity to commit his statements to writing, and publish them, with little or no variation, from his own words.

      Agreeable to his own appointment, on the evening he was committed to prison, with permission of the jailer, I visited NAT on Tuesday the 1st November, when, without being questioned at all, commenced his narrative in the following words:--

      [Nat Turner:]

      SIR,--You have asked me to give a history of the motives which induced me to undertake the late insurrection, as you call it--To do so I must go back to the days of my infancy, and even before I was born. I was thirty-one years of age the 2d of October last, and born the property of Benj. Turner, of this county. In my childhood a circumstance occurred which made an indelible impression on my mind, and laid the ground work of that enthusiasm, which has terminated so fatally to many, both white and black, and for which I am about to atone at the gallows. It is here necessary to relate this circumstance--trifling as it may seem, it was the commencement of that belief which has grown with time, and even now, sir, in this dungeon, helpless and forsaken as I am, I cannot divest myself of. Being at play with other children, when three or four years old, I was telling them something, which my mother overhearing, said it had happened before I was I born--I stuck to my story, however, and related somethings which went, in her opinion, to confirm it--others being called on were greatly astonished, knowing that these things had happened, and caused them to say in my hearing, I surely would be a prophet, as the Lord had shown me things that had happened before my birth. And my father and mother strengthened me in this my first impression, saying in my presence, I was intended for some great purpose, which they had always thought from certain marks on my head and breast--[a parcel of excrescences which I believe are not at all uncommon, particularly among negroes, as I have seen several with the same. In this case he has either cut them off or they have nearly disappeared]--My grandmother, who was very religious, and to whom I was much attached--my master, who belonged to the church, and other religious persons who visited the house, and whom I often saw at prayers, noticing the singularity of my manners, I suppose, and my uncommon intelligence for a child, remarked I had too much sense to be raised, and if I was, I would never be of any service to any one as a slave--To a mind like mine, restless, inquisitive and observant of everything that was passing, it is easy to suppose that religion was the subject to which it would be directed, and although this subject principally occupied my thoughts....

      [Thomas R. Gray:]

      He is a complete fanatic, or plays his part most admirably. On other subjects he possesses an uncommon share of intelligence, with a mind capable of attaining any thing; but warped and perverted by the influence of arly impressions. He is below the ordinary stature, though strong and active, having the true negro face, every feature of which is strongly marked. I shall not attempt to describe the effect of his narrative, as told and commented on by himself, in the condemned hole of the prison. The calm, deliberate composure with which he spoke of his late deeds and intentions, the expression of his fiend-like face when excited by enthusiasm, still bearing the stains of the blood of helpless innocence about him; clothed with rags and covered with chains; yet daring to raise his manacled hands to heaven, with a spirit soaring above the attributes of man; I looked on him and my blood curdled in my veins.


      1. Sourcing: Who wrote this document? When and where was it published? What kind of publication is it?
      2. Close Reading: Describe Nat Turner according to himself.
      3. Close Reading: Describe Nat Turner according to Gray’s introduction and conclusion notes.
      4. Corroboration: Is there a contradiction between Turner and Gray’s description? How and why?
      5. Sourcing: Is this a trustworthy source? Does this account of Turner’s character seem believable? Explain.



      “An Address to the Slaves of the United States” – Garnet

      Source: Speech delivered by Henry Highland Garnet at the National Negro Convention of 1843 held in Buffalo, New York. The convention drew 70 delegates including leaders like Frederick Douglass.

      You had better all die--die immediately, than live slaves and entail your wretchedness upon your posterity. If you would be free in this generation, here is your only hope. However much you and all of us may desire it, there is not much hope of redemption without the shedding of blood. If you must bleed, let it all come at once—rather die freemen, than live to be slaves....

      The patriotic Nathaniel Turner followed Denmark Veazie [Vesey]. He was goaded to desperation by wrong and injustice. By despotism, his name has been recorded on the list of infamy, and future generations will remember him among the noble and brave.


      1. Sourcing: Who wrote this document? When? How long after the Turner rebellion was this document written?
      2. Sourcing: Who is the author of this document speaking to? How does his audience affect what he says and how he says it?
      3. Close Reading: According to the author of this speech, what kind of person is Nat Turner? What proof does he provide to illustrate that Turner is this type of person?
      4. Contextualization: Why does this author think of Nat Turner in this way? Think about when this article was written: How does the author’s historical context shape how he thinks of and represents Turner?
      5. Sourcing: Is this interpretation of Turner trustworthy? Why or why not?

      material provided from http://www.ck12.org/saythanks

      • Texas Independence

        Texas Independence

         Mexico declared its independence from Spain in 1821 and adopted a Constitution in 1824. Through the 1820s and 1830s, Americans moved into the Mexican territory promising to uphold the Mexican Constitution. In 1833 General Santa Anna took control of the Mexican government and imposed a new constitution. A war followed, with General Santa Anna’s supporters fighting against the supporters of the old constitution and the Texan immigrants from the United States. In 1836, the American Texans went a step farther and declared independence from Mexico. The Texans won the war and became an independent nation, which was soon admitted into the U.S.A. as the 28th state. Read the documents below and try to determine why Texans declared their independence from Mexico.

        letterLetter – E.W. Ripley

        Source: The letter below is written by an American to the Mexican government in 1823, asking for permission to settle in Mexico.

        A number of men of good character and patriotic f[ ] are desirous of emigrating from the United States into the Mexican Territory on th[e] South Side of the Colorado of the Mississipi. Their object is to form a colo[ny] of Agriculturists. This tract of terr[itory?] at present [is] inhabited by the Ca[ ] and other Indians and the prese[nce of] such a colony would materially chec[k] their depredations. Should they go to this point they will conform to your language and political Institutions. they would defend your territory; and be a powe[rful au]xiliary TORN [ ] their agent from [ ] [ ]. He and the other Colonists would remove immediately with their families if they can obtain a grant of lands to settle and I think they would be of vast service to yourself individually and to the nation of Mexico I have the honor to be with sentiments of high respect

        Your most obedt Servt

        E.W.Ripley (rubric)

        New Orleans Au[gust ??] 1823


        1. Sourcing: Who wrote this document? Were they Mexican or American? When did they write it?
        2. Close Reading: Does this document present a positive or negative view of the American settlers in Texas? Provide a quote to support your claim.
        3. Sourcing: Do you trust the perspective of this document? Why or not?

        letterLetter – Rafael Manchola

        Source: The letter below was written by Rafael Antonio Manchola, a Tejano (Mexican living in Texas). He wrote this letter about the Anglo-Americans in 1826 to a military commander.

        No faith can be placed in the Anglo-American colonists because they are continually demonstrating that they absolutely refuse to be subordinate, unless they find it convenient to what they want anyway, all of which I believe will be very detrimental to us for them to be our neighbors if we do not in time, clip the wings of their audacity by stationing a strong detachment in each new settlement which will enforce the laws and jurisdiction of a Mexican magistrate which should be placed in each of them, since under their own colonists as judges, they do nothing more than practice their own laws which they have practiced since they were born, forgetting the ones they have sworn to obey, these being the laws of our Supreme Government.


        1. Sourcing: Who wrote this document? Were they Mexican or American? When did they write it?
        2. Close Reading: Does this document present a positive or negative view of the American settlers in Texas? Provide a quote to support your claim.
        3. Sourcing: Do you trust the perspective of this document? Why or not?

        oldpaperTexas Declaration of Independence

        Source: The Texas Declaration of Independence, issued March 2,1836. The image shown below is a printed version published shortly after the handwritten version was signed. (Figure below).

        Printed broadside version of the Texas Declaration of Independence

        The Unanimous

        Declaration of Independence

        made by the

        Delegates of the People of Texas

        in General Convention

        at the town of Washington

        on the 2nd day of March 1836.

        When a government has ceased to protect the lives, liberty and property of the people, from whom its legitimate powers are derived, and for the advancement of whose happiness it was instituted, and so far from being a guarantee for the enjoyment of those inestimable and inalienable rights, becomes an instrument in the hands of evil rulers for their oppression.

        When the Federal Republican Constitution of their country, which they have sworn to support, no longer has a substantial existence, and the whole nature of their government has been forcibly changed, without their consent, from a restricted federative republic, composed of sovereign states, to a consolidated central military despotism, in which every interest is disregarded but that of the army and the priesthood, both the eternal enemies of civil liberty, the everready minions of power, and the usual instruments of tyrants.

        When, long after the spirit of the constitution has departed, moderation is at length so far lost by those in power, that even the semblance of freedom is removed, and the forms themselves of the constitution discontinued, and so far from their petitions and remonstrances being regarded, the agents who bear them are thrown into dungeons, and mercenary armies sent forth to force a new government upon them at the point of the bayonet.

        When, in consequence of such acts of malfeasance and abdication on the part of the government, anarchy prevails, and civil society is dissolved into its original elements. In such a crisis, the first law of nature, the right of self-preservation, the inherent and inalienable rights of the people to appeal to first principles, and take their political affairs into their own hands in extreme cases, enjoins it as a right towards themselves, and a sacred obligation to their posterity, to abolish such government, and create another in its stead, calculated to rescue them from impending dangers, and to secure their future welfare and happiness.

        Nations, as well as individuals, are amenable for their acts to the public opinion of mankind. A statement of a part of our grievances is therefore submitted to an impartial world, in justification of the hazardous but unavoidable step now taken, of severing our political connection with the Mexican people, and assuming an independent attitude among the nations of the earth.

        The Mexican government, by its colonization laws, invited and induced the Anglo-American population of Texas to colonize its wilderness under the pledged faith of a written constitution, that they should continue to enjoy that constitutional liberty and republican government to which they had been habituated in the land of their birth, the United States of America.

        In this expectation they have been cruelly disappointed, inasmuch as the Mexican nation has acquiesced in the late changes made in the government by General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, who having overturned the constitution of his country, now offers us the cruel alternative, either to abandon our homes, acquired by so many privations, or submit to the most intolerable of all tyranny, the combined despotism of the sword and the priesthood.

        It has sacrificed our welfare to the state of Coahuila, by which our interests have been continually depressed through a jealous and partial course of legislation, carried on at a far distant seat of government, by a hostile majority, in an unknown tongue, and this too, notwithstanding we have petitioned in the humblest terms for the establishment of a separate state government, and have, in accordance with the provisions of the national constitution, presented to the general Congress a republican constitution, which was, without just cause, contemptuously rejected.

        It incarcerated in a dungeon, for a long time, one of our citizens, for no other cause but a zealous endeavor to procure the acceptance of our constitution, and the establishment of a state government.

        It has failed and refused to secure, on a firm basis, the right of trial by jury, that palladium of civil liberty, and only safe guarantee for the life, liberty, and property of the citizen.

        It has failed to establish any public system of education, although possessed of almost boundless resources, (the public domain,) and although it is an axiom in political science, that unless a people are educated and enlightened, it is idle to expect the continuance of civil liberty, or the capacity for self government.

        It has suffered the military commandants, stationed among us, to exercise arbitrary acts of oppression and tyranny, thus trampling upon the most sacred rights of the citizens, and rendering the military superior to the civil power.

        It has dissolved, by force of arms, the state Congress of Coahuila and Texas, and obliged our representatives to fly for their lives from the seat of government, thus depriving us of the fundamental political right of representation.

        It has demanded the surrender of a number of our citizens, and ordered military detachments to seize and carry them into the Interior for trial, in contempt of the civil authorities, and in defiance of the laws and the constitution.

        It has made piratical attacks upon our commerce, by commissioning foreign desperadoes, and authorizing them to seize our vessels, and convey the property of our citizens to far distant ports for confiscation.

        It denies us the right of worshipping the Almighty according to the dictates of our own conscience, by the support of a national religion, calculated to promote the temporal interest of its human functionaries, rather than the glory of the true and living God.

        It has demanded us to deliver up our arms, which are essential to our defence, the rightful property of freemen, and formidable only to tyrannical governments.

        It has invaded our country both by sea and by land, with intent to lay waste our territory, and drive us from our homes; and has now a large mercenary army advancing, to carry on against us a war of extermination.

        It has, through its emissaries, incited the merciless savage, with the tomahawk and scalping knife, to massacre the inhabitants of our defenseless frontiers.

        It hath been, during the whole time of our connection with it, the contemptible sport and victim of successive military revolutions, and hath continually exhibited every characteristic of a weak, corrupt, and tyrranical government.

        These, and other grievances, were patiently borne by the people of Texas, untill they reached that point at which forbearance ceases to be a virtue. We then took up arms in defence of the national constitution. We appealed to our Mexican brethren for assistance. Our appeal has been made in vain. Though months have elapsed, no sympathetic response has yet been heard from the Interior. We are, therefore, forced to the melancholy conclusion, that the Mexican people have acquiesced in the destruction of their liberty, and the substitution there for of a military government; that they are unfit to be free, and incapable of self government.

        The necessity of self-preservation, therefore, now decrees our eternal political separation.

        We, therefore, the delegates with plenary powers of the people of Texas, in solemn convention assembled, appealing to a candid world for the necessities of our condition, do hereby resolve and declare, that our political connection with the Mexican nation has forever ended, and that the people of Texas do now constitute a free, Sovereign, and independent republic, and are fully invested with all the rights and attributes which properly belong to independent nations; and, conscious of the rectitude of our intentions, we fearlessly and confidently commit the issue to the decision of the Supreme arbiter of the destinies of nations.

        Richard Ellis, President

        of the Convention and Delegate

        from Red River.

        [Followed by 59 signatures]


        1. Sourcing: Who wrote this document? Were they Mexican or American? When did they write it?
        2. Close Reading: Does this document present a positive or negative view of the American settlers in Texas? Provide a quote to support your claim.
        3. Sourcing: Do you trust the perspective of this document? Why or not?

        speechAlamo Defenders' Burial Speech - Juan Seguin

        Source: Colonel Juan Seguin's Alamo Defenders' Burial Speech, April 4, 1837. Seguin was a Mexican who supported the Texas Revolution and fought with the American settlers against General Santa Anna. The speech below was given at the burial of the men who died at the Alamo.

        Original Spanish:

        Compañeros de armas: Estos restos que hemos tenido el honor de conducir en nuestros hombros son los de los valientes héroes que murieron en el Alamo. Sí mis amigos, ellos prefirieron morir mil veces a servir el yugo del tirano. Que ejemplo tan briIlante, digno de anotarse en las páginas de la historia. El genio de la libertad parece estar viendo en su elevado trono de donde con semblante halagueño nos señala diciendo: “Ahí tenéis a vuestros hermanos, Travis, Bowie, Crockett y otros varios a quienes su valor coloca en el número de mis héroes.---Yo os pido a que poniendo por testigo a los venerables restos de nuestros dignos compañeros digamos al mundo entero. Texas será libre, independiente o pereceremos con gloria en los combates.

        English Translation:

        Comrades in arms: These remains which we have had the honor of carrying on our shoulders are the ones of the brave heroes who died in the Alamo. Yes, my friends, they preferred a thousand deaths rather than surrender or serve the yoke of the tyrant. What a brilliant example. Worthy indeed of being recorded in the pages of history. The genius of liberty seems to be witnessing from its high throne, from whence with praising look points out the deed saying: “Here you have your brothers, Travis, Bowie, Crockett and a few others whose valor, places them in the number of my heroes.---The worthy remains of our venerable companions bearing witness, I ask you to tell the world, Texas shall be free and independent or we shall perish with glory in battle.


        1. Sourcing: Who wrote this document? Were they Mexican or American? When did they write it?
        2. Close Reading: Does this document present a positive or negative view of the American settlers in Texas? Provide a quote to support your claim.
        3. Sourcing: Do you trust the perspective of this document? Why or not?

        bookThe War In Texas - Benjamin Lundy

        Source: Benjamin Lundy became active in the antislavery movement in the 1820s. He organized abolitionist societies, lectured extensively, and contributed to many abolitionist publications. He wrote this pamphlet called The War in Texas in 1836. Lundy argued that the Texas revolution was a slaveholders' plot to take Texas from Mexico and to add slave territory to the United States.(Figure below).

        But the prime cause, and the real objects of this war, are not distinctly understood by a large portion of the honest, disinterested, and well---meaning citizens of the United States. Their means of obtaining correct information upon the subject have been necessarily limited;---and many of them have been deceived and misled, by the misrepresentations of those concerned in it, and especially by hireling writers for the newspaper press. They have been induced to believe that the inhabitants of Texas were engaged in a legitimate contest for the maintenance of the sacred principles of Liberty, and the natural, inalienable Rights of Man:---whereas, the motives of its instigators, and their chief incentives to action, have been from the commencement, of a directly opposite character and tendency. It is susceptible of the clearest demonstration that the immediate cause and the leading object of this contest originated in a settled design, among the slaveholders of this country, (with land speculators and slave traders) to wrest the large and valuable territory of Texas from the Mexican Republic, in order to re-establish the SYSTEM OF SLAVERY; to open a vast and profitable SLAVEMARKET therein; and, ultimately, to annex it to the United States.


        1. Sourcing: Who wrote this document? Were they Mexican or American? When did they write it?
        2. Close Reading: Does this document present a positive or negative view of the American settlers in Texas? Provide a quote to support your claim.
        3. Sourcing: Do you trust the perspective of this document? Why or not?

        Section Question:

        1. Corroboration: Based on all five documents, do you think that the Texans were justified in declaring independence?

        material provided from http://www.ck12.org/saythanks

        • Manifest Destiny

          Manifest Destiny

          Even while the United States were crowded along the Atlantic coast, Americans developed the idea that the nation was destined to stretch across the continent. This idea was called ‘Manifest Destiny.’ Examine the images below, read the two texts by Joseph O’Sullivan, and try to determine why many Americans supported Westward expansion.

          Map of the United States with the contiguous British & Spanish Possessions by John Melish (1816)

          Source: A map of the United States made by John Melish in 1816. According to the David Rumsey Collection, this is “the first large scale detailed map made in the U.S. that showed the entire country from the Atlantic to the Pacific.” (Figure below).

          A map of the United States made by John Melish in 1816

          Map of the United States – Ormando Gray (1872)

          Source: Map of the United States made by Ormando Willis Gray, published in Philadelphia in 1872. (Figure below).

          Map of the United States made by Ormando Willis Gray

          Section Questions:

          1. Sourcing: When was Melish’s map made?
          2. Contextualization: What territory was part of the United States at that point?
          3. Close Reading: Compare Melish’s map to Gray’s 1872 map. What land did Melish include, even though it was not part of the United States?
          4. Why would Melish draw a map that included land that was not yet a part of the United States in 1816?

          American Progress – John Gast

          Source: John Gast painted American Progress 1872 to represent the spirit of Manifest Destiny. This image is of a chromolithograph made around 1873 by George A. Croffut, based on Gast’s painting.(Figure below).

          This image is of a chromolithograph made around 1873 by George A. Croffut


          1. What do you think the woman in this painting represents? How is this symbolized in the painting?

          The Great Nation of Futurity – John O’Sullivan

          Source: An article by John O’Sullivan called “The Great Nation of Futurity,” from The United States Democratic Review in 1839. John O’Sullivan was a writer and editor of a well-known newspaper around the time of the Mexican-American war. Most people give him the credit for coining the term “Manifest Destiny.” As you read the quotes below, try to figure out what he thinks of America.

          The American people having derived their origin from many other nations, and the Declaration of National Independence being entirely based on the great principle of human equality, these facts demonstrate at once our disconnected position as regards any other nation; that we have, in reality, but little connection with the past history of any of them, and still less with all antiquity, its glories, or its crimes. On the contrary, our national birth was the beginning of a new history, the formation and progress of an untried political system, which separates us from the past and connects us with the future only; and so far as regards the entire development of the natural rights of man, in moral, political, and national life, we may confidently assume that our country is destined to be the great nation of futurity....

          Yes, we are the nation of progress, of individual freedom, of universal enfranchisement. Equality of rights is the cynosure of our union of States, the grand exemplar of the correlative equality of individuals; and while truth sheds its effulgence, we cannot retrograde, without dissolving the one and subverting the other. We must onward to the fulfilment of our mission -- to the entire development of the principle of our organization -- freedom of conscience, freedom of person, freedom of trade and business pursuits, universality of freedom and equality. This is our high destiny, and in nature's eternal, inevitable decree of cause and effect we must accomplish it. All this will be our future history, to establish on earth the moral dignity and salvation of man -- the immutable truth and beneficence of God. For this blessed mission to the nations of the world, which are shut out from the life-giving light of truth, has America been chosen; and her high example shall smite unto death the tyranny of kings, hierarchs, and oligarchs, and carry the glad tidings of peace and good will where myriads now endure an existence scarcely more enviable than that of beasts of the field. Who, then, can doubt that our country is destined to be the great nation of futurity?


          1. What does John O’Sullivan think America stands for?
          2. What, according to John O’Sullivan, is America’s mission?

          Annexation – John O’Sullivan

          Source: An article by John O’Sullivan, “Annexation,” from the United States Magazine and Democratic Review, 1845.

          It is now time for the opposition to the Annexation of Texas to cease, all further agitation of the waters of bitterness and strife, at least in connexion with this question, --even though it may perhaps be required of us as a necessary condition of the freedom of our institutions, that we must live on for ever in a state of unpausing struggle and excitement upon some subject of party division or other. But, in regard to Texas, enough has now been given to party. It is time for the common duty of Patriotism to the Country to succeed;--or if this claim will not be recognized, it is at least time for common sense to acquiesce with decent grace in the inevitable and the irrevocable.

          Texas is now ours. Already, before these words are written, her Convention has undoubtedly ratified the acceptance, by her Congress, of our proffered invitation into the Union; and made the requisite changes in her already republican form of constitution to adapt it to its future federal relations. Her star and her stripe may already be said to have taken their place in the glorious blazon of our common nationality; and the sweep of our eagle's wing already includes within its circuit the wide extent of her fair and fertile land. She is no longer to us a mere geographical space--a certain combination of coast, plain, mountain, valley, forest and stream. She is no longer to us a mere country on the map....

          Why, were other reasoning wanting, in favor of now elevating this question of the reception of Texas into the Union, out of the lower region of our past party dissensions, up to its proper level of a high and broad nationality, it surely is to be found, found abundantly, in the manner in which other nations have undertaken to intrude themselves into it, between us and the proper parties to the case, in a spirit of hostile interference against us, for the avowed object of thwarting our policy and hampering our power, limiting our greatness and checking the fulfillment of our manifest destiny to overspread the continent allotted by Providence for the free development of our yearly multiplying millions....


          1. Close Reading: What do you think John O’Sullivan means by the following phrase: “our manifest destiny to overspread the continent allotted by Providence for the free development of our yearly multiplying millions”?

          Section Question:

          1. Based on all of these documents, how did Americans feel about expanding westward?

          material provided from http://www.ck12.org/saythanks

          • Manifest Destiny Webquest

            Welcome: Manifest Destiny 

            WebQuest http://zunal.com/webquest.php?w=5659


            Lewis and Clark Expedition Navigation Guide
            “The Corps”

            1. How many members were there in the Permanent Party?
            2. Who was Sacagawea?

            “To Equip an Expedition”

            1.       How much money did Congress allocate for the expedition?
            2.     From the list of supplies, which ten(10) do you think are the most important?
            3.    Name three(3) myths about the “Idea of the West”
            4. What reasons did Jefferson have for proposing the expedition?
            5. When was the Louisiana Purchase signed?
            6. How many square miles was it? 
            7. How much did it cost?

            “Circa 1803”

            “The Native Americans”

            1. Describe the Native American “Meeting Ceremony”

            Journal Guide and Primary Source Document Analysis Worksheet


            Choose 5 journal entries from the following list.  Circle each journal entry as you read and examine the content.  While reading, take notes; then answer the following questions.


            Clark: June 28, 1804                                                   Whitehouse: June 16, 1805

            Clark: July 14, 1804                                                    Gass: June 25, 1805

            Ordway: July 30, 1804                                               Lewis: August 13, 1805

            Floyd: August 14, 1804                                              Whitehouse: December 25, 1805

            Lewis: May 14, 1805                                                  Gass: April 21, 1806





            1. For what purpose were these journal entries written?
            2. List at least three things about these sources that are important.
            3. What can be learned from these sources?


            Trail of Tears Navigation Guide

            Introduction – Indian Removal Act

            1. Name the “Five Civilized Tribes”(5) (hint: read paragraphs 1 and 5)
            2. What “legal means” did the Cherokee tribe use in an attempt to safeguard their rights?    (hint: read paragraphs 7-8)
            3. Were they successful?  Why or why not?
            4. What was the Indian Removal Act of 1830? (hint: read paragraph 9)
            5. How did Andrew Jackson treat the Native Americans? (hint: read paragraph 10)
            6. How were the Cherokee Indians “tricked” into the treaty of New Echota? (hint: read paragraph 15)
            7. What was the result?
            8. How many people died on the “Trail of Tears?”
            9. By 1837, how many Indians had been removed from their lands? 
            10. How many acres of land did this leave to white settlers?

            Primary Source Document Analysis Worksheet


            Read the two historical documents: “Andrew Jackson's Second Annual Message” and “Cherokee Letter Protesting The Treaty of New Echota.” You will need to click on the link for the text of each historical document.  While reading, take notes; then answer the following questions.


            1. For what purpose were these historic documents written?
            2. List at least three things about these sources that are important.
            3. What can be learned from these sources?


            Oregon Trail Navigation Guide

            1. Who were the first emigrants to make the journey on the Oregon Trail in a covered wagon?

            Jumping Off

            1. What were “Jumping Off” Cities?  Name one example.


            1. Name the five hardships listed


            1. What was the biggest problem while camping?
            2. What did they use to burn when there were no trees for firewood?


            1. How did they use Buffalo Chips?

            Native Americans

            1. In what ways did Native Americans help the pioneers?
            2. Describe one of the massacres featured on the site.


            The Donner Party

            1. Who were the members of the Donner Party?
            2. What happened at the “Camp of Death?”  (hint: read the paragraph next to the 2nd picture)

            Primary Source Document Analysis Worksheet

            On the Donner Party website, select one of the Donner Party Logs (April 1846 – April 1847).  Skim through the logs for the month of your choice.  The logs are narrated - first hand accounts from diaries are in quotes.  (Be aware that December 1846, January 1847 and February 1847 contain accounts of death, starvation, and cannibalism. If you do not want to read about it, please choose a different month).  While reading, take notes; then answer the following questions.



            1. For what purpose were these diaries written?
            2. List at least three things about these sources that are important.
            3. What can be learned from these sources?
            • Study Guide

              1. What is Manifest Destiny?
              2. What did President Thomas Jefferson's purchase of Louisiana do for America?
              3. Florida was acquired by Secretary of State John Quincy Adams through what?
              4. How did President James Polk deal with the dispute between the United States and Great Britain over Oregon Country?
              5. The annexation of Texas was opposed by many Americans because of what?
              6. The war with Mexico began with what?
              7. What were the terms in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo that ended the Mexican War?
              8. What part of North America was claimed by Russia in 1846?
              9. Which territory was ceded by Spain to the United States in 1819?
              10. The Lewis and Clark expedition brought back priceless information about the West but failed to what?
              11. The mountain men explored much of the West in their search for what?
              12. The most important legacy of the early missionaries to Oregon was what?
              13. Pioneer women who settled in the West were the first American women to what?
              14. What brought the forty-niners to California?
              15. Chinese immigrants to California what?
              16. Tex-Mex food is the result of a mingling of what?
              17. Americans moving to the Southwest from eastern states knew little about irrigation techniques because of what?
              18. In the early 1800s, most Americans lived where?
              19. The economic system that took root in the young United States is known as what?
              20. The artist John James Audubon became famous for his portraits of what?
              21. What physical feature marked the western border of the United States in the early 1800’s?
              22. What stereotypes were often applied to people living west of the Appalachians?