Westward Expansion in Newspapers

Spanning much of the 19th century, the era of Westward Expansion was a time when explorers and settlers pushed further and further west under the philosophy of “Manifest Destiny,” until the United States eventually stretched from the Atlantic to the Pacific oceans. This westward movement caused the displacement or deaths of many native peoples and led to conflict between the U.S. government and Native Americans.

Explore the topics below to learn more about this period through newspaper articles and clippings.

Lithograph of the Erie Canal at Lockport, New York c.1855

Building of the Erie Canal

The Erie Canal is a canal in New York, United States that is part of the east–west, cross-state route of the New York State Canal System (formerly known as the New York State Barge Canal). Originally, it ran 363 miles (584 km) from where Albany meets the Hudson River to where Buffalo meets Lake Erie. …Read More

California Gold Rush

The California Gold Rush (1848–1855) began on January 24, 1848, when gold was found by James W. Marshall at Sutter’s Mill in Coloma, California. The news of gold brought approximately 300,000 people to California from the rest of the United States and abroad. The sudden influx of gold into the money supply reinvigorated the American …Read More

Geronimo, 1887


Geronimo (June 1829 – February 17, 1909) was a Native American resistance leader from the Bedonkohe band of the Chiricahua Apache tribe. He was best known for leading his warriors on violent raids against Mexican and U.S. targets and for escaping confinement on the Apache reservation multiple times. Geronimo (Native American name Goyathlay) was born …Read More

Photo from the Golden Spike Ceremony at Promontory Summit, May 10, 1869

Golden Spike Ceremony

On May 10, 1869, the Union Pacific and Central Pacific railroads were connected at Promontory Summit in Utah Territory, completing the first transcontinental railroad in the United States. Background The Central Pacific Railroad had started building east from Sacramento, California, in 1863, while the Union Pacific Railroad had started building west from Omaha, Nebraska Territory, …Read More

Norwegian immigrants in 1898 on their land claimed under the Homestead Act

Homestead Act of 1862

What Was the Homestead Act of 1862? The Homestead Act of 1862 was federal legislation that allowed settlers to claim up to 160 acres of land in the public domain at little cost and with few requirements. It went into effect in the United States on January 1, 1863. The Homestead Act was a significant …Read More

Map of Lewis and Clark Expedition

Lewis and Clark Expedition

The Lewis and Clark Expedition from May 1804 to September 1806, also known as the Corps of Discovery Expedition, was the first American expedition to cross what is now the western portion of the United States. It began near St. Louis, made its way westward, and passed through the continental divide to reach the Pacific …Read More

Louisiana Purchase

In 1803, the United States purchased around 828,000 square miles of land from France for less than three cents per acre. Called the Louisiana Purchase, this sale doubled the size of the United States and paved the way for westward expansion. Background In the early 1700s, France controlled the majority of what would become the …Read More

"American Progress," by John Gast, 1872, depicting the idea of Manifest Destiny

Manifest Destiny

What Is Manifest Destiny? Coined in the 1840s, the term “Manifest Destiny” is used to describe the mid-19th-century American belief that it was the country’s divine destiny to expand westward to fill the American continent. During the era of Manifest Destiny, America acquired Texas in 1845, part of the Pacific Northwest (called the Oregon Country) …Read More

Sitting Bull, circa 1883

Sitting Bull

Sitting Bull (Lakota: Tȟatȟáŋka Íyotake in Standard Lakota orthography, also nicknamed Húŋkešni or “Slow”) was a Hunkpapa Lakota leader who led his people during years of resistance to United States government policies. He was killed by Indian agency police on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation during an attempt to arrest him, at a time when …Read More