Unit 6: Manifest Destiny,

the Alamo, & the Gold Rush

When the United States of America began to expand westward in the 1840s, Manifest Destiny was used to describe and justify this expansion. Many believed that Americans were the “chosen ones,” and had a God-given obligation to spread democracy to Native Americans and other non-Europeans.

Newspapers and political figures at the time spoke often and passionately about Manifest Destiny. Later, these ideas were applied to other decisions in American History, especially the ones regarding Imperialism.

Those who disagreed with Manifest Destiny argued that the term was just a way of sugar-coating what was, in effect, taking land from other groups of people. At the same time, supporters insisted that it was all about efforts to improve the lives of those less fortunate and less civilized by bringing democratic ideals and opportunities for improvement.

Regardless, it is only fair to admit that greed and the desire for control did play some role in westward expansion, no matter what you call it.

In the years between 1783 and 1850, Americans also saw many exciting changes occur. For example, several new territories were added to the original thirteen states. Thomas Jefferson, the writer of the Declaration of Independence, became the third president of the United States of America. He enlisted Meriwether Lewis and William Clark to explore the vast wilderness west of the Appalachian Mountains and they carved a trail all the way to the Pacific Coast. As a result, a multitude of brave pioneers set out on the Oregon Trail to begin a new life in the West.

During these years the Louisiana Purchase was made for a bargain from France, increasing the size of the United States many times over.

Others with higher ambitions chose to go searching for gold and found themselves in the midst of Gold Fever. Also, the age of the Mountain Man had begun where trapping furs and living in the wild mountains was the norm.

Finally, Texas was fought for with tremendous fortitude and honor. In an old mission called the Alamo, a group of Americans held onto the fort for thirteen days fighting the Mexicans and paying the ultimate price. Eventually the Mexican army led by General Santa Anna was conquered and we claimed Texas for the United States of America!

Two spectacular movies which I recommend to enhance the unit are The Alamo starring Dennis Quaid and Jeremiah Johnson starring Robert Redford. Visit our Teach with Movies page for more ideas!

A list of terms to help students become familiar with Unit 6.

A study guide to prepare students for the test; I always make mine a mandatory assignment.

All of my tests are a mix of term matching, multiple choice, and information recall with short answer questions and essay questions.

Return from Manifest Destiny to American History


Enjoy this page? Please pay it forward. Here's how...

Would you prefer to share this page with others by linking to it?

  1. Click on the HTML link code below.
  2. Copy and paste it, adding a note of your own, into your blog, a Web page, forums, a blog comment, your Facebook account, or anywhere that someone would find this page valuable.
Subscribe for more OwlTeacher.com tips and ideas

Sign up for OwlTeacher's Newsletter below and get more inspiration, ideas, and worksheets via email.

E-mail Address
First Name (optional)

Don't worry — your e-mail address is totally secure.
I promise to use it only to send you OwlTeacher's Newsletter.