The Western Expansion

  • The Removal Act

    The Removal Act
    The U.S. Congress votes in favor of the Indian Removal Act, calling for the removal. Voluntary or forced, of all Indians to lands west of the Mississippi.
  • Congress establishes Indian Territory

    Congress establishes Indian Territory, which coversparts of the present-day states of Oklahoma, Nebraska, and Kansas, far smaller than the "all lands west of the Mississippi" that whites had once promised.
  • Seminole Wars

    The Seminole Wars begin in the winter of 1835. After Seminole Indians refuse to leave their land in Florida, they are led by war chief Osceola in a fightagainst U.S. army troops in the swamps of Florida. The war costs the U.S. government more than $20 millionand the lives of fifteen hundred troops. Osceola is captured during a truce and dies in prison in 1838. The war continues until 1842, at which time most Seminole are moved west of the Mississippi River.
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    The Seminole Wars

  • Treaty of New Echota

    Treaty of New Echota
    A small group of Cherokee sign the Treaty of New Echota, selling all remaining Cherokee land east of the Mississippi River to the United States. The majority of Cherokee oppose the treaty.
  • Santa Anna

     Santa Anna
    Mexican president Antonio López de Santa Anna and a large army lay siege to a band of Texans holed up at the Alamo Mission. After a ten-day battle, every American man is killed. "Remember the Alamo" becomes the battle cry of Texans who fight back against Santa Anna and win independence for the Republic of Texas on May 14, 1836.
  • Texas claims

    The Republic of Texas claims all land between the Rio Grande and Nueces rivers. Sam Houston is sworn in as president.
  • Samuel Colt

    Samuel Colt
    American inventor Samuel Colt patents the revolver or repeating pistol.
  • Narcissa Prentiss Whitman and Eliza Spalding,

    Narcissa Prentiss Whitman and Eliza Spalding, two Protestant missionaries, become the first white women to cross the Rocky Mountains when they travel westward with their husbands.
  • Creek Indian land

    U.S. settlers move in on Creek Indian land in Alabama and purchase all available food. Drought andfamine make life impossible for the Creek. Facing starvation, the Creek agree to go to Indian Territory.
  • The removal of the Cherokee Indians from Georgia to Indian Territory

    The removal of the Cherokee Indians from Georgia to Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma) begins when General Winfield Scott andseven thousand federal troops are sent to the Cherokee's homeland to insist that the Cherokee leave. Scott's troops imprison any Cherokee who resist and burn their homes and crops. The Cherokee remember the trek as the "Trail Where They Cried," while U.S.historians call it the "Trail of Tears." More than four thousand Cherokee die on the forced march before they reach
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    The removal of the Cherokee Indians from Georgia to Indian Territory

  • The Oregon Trail is opened.

    The Oregon Trail is opened from Idaho to the GrandeRonde Valley in Oregon. The Great Migration, the name given to the first major exodus of emigrants westward, draws one thousand settlers onto the Oregon Trail.
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    Congress passes laws to build militaryposts

    The U.S. Congress passes laws to build militaryposts to protect settlers moving from the East to California and Oregon. These forts cause conflict with Indian tribes along the route.
  • John Tyler

    John Tyler
    President John Tyler signs a resolution to bring Texas into the Union. Because the border of Texas is still contested, Tyler's action angers the Mexican government and it breaks off diplomatic relations withthe United States. A conflict soon arises between the two countries over the official border. Texas and the United States claim the Rio Grande as the southern border. Mexico argues that the Nueces River, a few hundred miles to the north, is the actual border.
  • James Polk orders...

    President James Polk orders General ZacharyTaylor to advance a force of thirty-five hundred U.S. troops to the Rio Grande River.
  • President Polk

    President Polk sends a war message to Congress declaring that Mexico "has invaded our territory and shed American blood upon American soil." On May 13 Congress declares that a state of war exists by act ofMexico, votes a war appropriation of $10 million, and approves the enlistment of fifty thousand soldiers.
  • Oregon Treaty

    Britain and the United States sign the Oregon Treaty, granting the territory south of the 49th parallel to the United States. Though Britain had occupiedthis territory first, by 1845 American settlers significantly outnumbered British settlers in the area.
  • Whitman's mission

    Members of the Whitman mission in Washington territory are massacred by Cayuse Indians, who believe the missionaries have started a devastating measles epidemic.
  • The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo

    The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo is signed ending the Mexican-American War. The treaty grants the United States all or part of the present-day states of Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming. It is a territorial addition second only to the Louisiana Purchase and virtually doubles the size of the country.
  • Pursuit of gold

    An estimated thirty-two thousand people take the overland routes to California in 1849, most in pursuit of gold.
  • ongress passes a series of laws...

    The U.S. Congress passes a series of laws to address the growing divisions over the slavery issue and disputesover the land acquired in the Mexican-American War. The famous Compromise of 1850 addresses the problem of slavery in the new territories of New Mexico and California. It outlaws the slave trade in Washington, D.C., but allows it everywhere else throughout the South. In addition, California is admitted to the Union as a free state, and a new and tougher fugitive slave law replaces the po
  • Overland Mail Company

    John Butterfield's Overland Mail Company opens for service September 16. The company transports mailfrom St. Louis to Tipton, Missouri, by train and then transfers it to stagecoaches for the trip to San Francisco, California.
  • The Pony Express opens

    The Pony Express opens, providing the firstrapid overland mail service to the Pacific coast.
  • Navajo

    A force of one thousand warriors led by Navajo chiefs Manuelito and Barboncito attacks Fort Defiance in present-day eastern Arizona, killing a numberof soldiers before being driven from the fort. No longer able to overlook isolated Indian raids, after 1860 the army is determined to destroy the Navajo.