You are here:

General History/Territorial Expansion


I have an AP Us assignment due after spring break and I'm having trouble understanding it. Can you please help me with TERRITORIAL EXPANSION. How Does it relate to economic transformation, environment consequences, American identity, American diversity, Americas' global transformation, American political traditions, and culture?


Hi Joshua and thank you for your question,
American western expansion affected:
economics by making new natural resources available to Americans. Americans ate much less beef before the Civil War. After the war the grasslands of the Great Plains and Texas were settled which led the increased cattle raising. Also the cattle could be more easily taken to eastern markets via the transcontinental railroad. There was relatively little gold in the eastern US, but gold was found in California, Colorado, Montana, Idaho, and Alaska. So was a lot of other mineral wealth like silver, copper (just in time for the electrification of America), aluminum, iron, oil, etc.

the environment through the rapid and careless exploitation of the west's natural resources. For instance, over-farming of the Great Plains in the 1910s and '20s led to the Dust Bowl in the 1930s, the greatest man-made environmental disaster in American history. Over production of cattle led to the Great Die-up of the 1880s when deep snows buried the grass so that the cattle starved. Mining methods left great scars upon the land.

American identity. Much of the world still thinks of Americans as a bunch of cowboys. We are a nation of cars because in the early 20th century Texas and Oklahoma produced 95% of all the oil in the world. Gasoline was often cheaper than water, so cars seemed like a good idea at the time. Outside of eastern cities, Americans live in big homes with big yards because we have the space. Ever see a European home? The whole house would fit inside an American living room.

American diversity by bringing new peoples to America. Latinos were almost unknown in America before the Mexican War of 1846-48 added Texas and the southwest to the US. The same goes for Roman Catholics. Asians only immigrated to America after California became a state. Initially, American policy was to push the Native Americans out of the east into the west. Consequently, most reservations are in the west.

our global transformation by providing the resources and wealth necessary to make America a world power. Battleships, tanks, and airplanes run on oil, are built out of steel and aluminum, and prior to 1933 had to be paid for with gold or silver. The Spanish-American War, World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War were fought at least in part in the Pacific, which would not have happened if America did not have a Pacific coast.

our political traditions by providing a third political philosophy. The northeast has always been liberal and the south always conservative. The west is populist - the voice of the people. Take gun control: the northeast is most vocal for restricting gun rights. The south takes a knee-jerk approach: "The government shouldn't be telling us how to do anything on guns or anything else." The west takes a more practical approach: "We need guns to kill outlaws (still), rattlesnakes, or predators like wolves and mountain lions that threaten livestock."

culturally by giving us the rugged individualist be he a cowboy, a mountain man, a 49er panning for gold, etc. Levi Strauss invented blue jeans in the west to give 49ers pants that would not wear out. Movies and TV are shot in California because the weather there is good year round. The American love affair with the car came, in part, from the fact that points in the west are few and far between, so it is impossible to walk anywhere. Many New Yorkers don't have driver's licenses because places are close enough to walk or take public transportation but not in the west.

Hope this answers your questions,


General History

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


C.M. Aaron


My interests are pretty diverse: military history, technology, and social trends for most historical eras, general U.S. history, European history, especially Roman and early medieval history but also the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries, European colonialism in Africa, a little bit of Asian history, especially as it relates to European and American imperialism. I'm also pretty good with presidential history.


I've read hundreds of history books on various subjects. I've also been writing historical fiction for about twenty years. Story development drives my research. I am also a tour guide at a local museum.

Bachelor's degree in history and geography.

©2017 All rights reserved.