The ABCs of Westward Expansion

The ABCs of Westward
Social Studies
A is for Americans.
In the mid 1800s, America
began to acquire land to the
west of the Mississippi
River. Americans believed
they should have all of the
land between the Atlantic
and Pacific Oceans.
Americans began traveling
west in search of new lands
and ”elbow room”.
B is for Buffalo Bill
William Cody organized the
Wild West Show in 1883.
The show provided
entertainment to pioneers
featuring cowboys doing
tricks and skilled Native
Americans. The Wild West
Shows exaggerated frontier
C is for California
Thousands of men
traveled to
California in the
California Gold
Rush. Not many
struck it rich,
but they did
return home
with adventure
D is for Death
Many people died traveling
the Oregon Trail. Historians
estimate that 10% of all
pioneers, or 30,000 people
died on their journey.
People died from accidents
and illnesses like cholera
and smallpox. Families had
to bury the dead along the
trail and continue on
without their loved one.
E is for Expedition
In 1804, President Jefferson
sent explorers Meriwether
Lewis and William Clark to
explore the west. They set
out toward the Pacific
Ocean with Sacagawea, a
Shoshone Indian who acted
as a translator and guide.
They were the first to
journal about the west and
record 1,000 varieties of
plants and animals.
F is for Family
Pioneer families often
had many children.
They needed children to
help with all of the
chores. Even young
children helped to
collect wood for the fire
and berries and nuts to
G is for Gold Rush
Thousands of men
rushed to California in
1849 in search for gold.
They were nicknamed
forty-niners. Miners
worked hard with little
success. Supplies were
very expensive and
many men went home
H is for Homestead Act
In 1862, Congress
passed the
Homestead Act to
encourage people to
settle the prairies.
The law promised free
land to people after
they had farmed it for
five years and built a
house on it.
I is for Immigrants
Thousands of
immigrants traveled
west as the United
States expanded.
Chinese and Irish
immigrants, in
particular, were crucial
in building the
J is for Jeans
Levi Strauss designed
sturdy pants for miners
so that they could bend,
dig, and squat easily.
You may even own a
pair– blue jeans!
K is for Klondike Gold Rush
In addition to the
California gold
strike, many
risked their lives
in search of gold
in Alaska.
L is for Locomotive
A locomotive is an engine on wheels used to pull
railcars. Locomotives transported good, and
eventually, people, across the United States.
M is for Manifest Destiny
Many Americans
believed that America
had the right to expand
as much as possible– it
was the fate of the
United States to stretch
across the continent.
This belief was at the
expense of Native
N is for Native American Removal
As Americans
traveled west, the
U.S. government
ordered troops to
forcibly remove
Native Americans
from their
homeland to new
O is for Oregon Trail
Families spent
at least four
months traveling
the difficult
western terrain
on horseback
and in Conestoga
P is for Pony Express
This was a famous mail
route that ran from Missouri
to California. It was a relay
of brave riders that raced
letters 2,000 miles in ten
days. After just nineteen
months in existence, the
Pony Express was replaced
with a new invention– the
Q is for Queasy
The food the pioneers ate
may not have sat well with
your stomach! Muddy river
water or contaminated wells
provided water while insects
dropped into cooking pots
and supplies like sugar and
flour quickly became moldy
along the way. Dry buffalo
dung provided fuel in the
empty prairie.
R is for Religion
Missionaries were some of
the first to travel west. The
Spanish set up missions to
spread their Roman Catholic
religion to the Native
Americans in the southwest.
Twenty-one Spanish
missions were established in
California during the 18th
and 19th centuries.
Santa Fe Trail
The Santa Fe Trail was
a road through the
prairies and mountains
from Missouri to Santa
Fe. The trail linked the
United States and
T is for Transcontinental Railroad
After the Civil War, the
Transcontinental Railroad
was constructed by
immigrants. This made
traveling easier from coast
to coast. The negative
effects were resistance from
American Indians and
displacing buffalo.
U is for United States
In the 1840s eastern cities
were becoming crowded
with Europeans. Many
Americans decided to
explore the west. Those
pioneers left their
“pioneering spirit”- curiosity,
hard work, determination,
resourcefulness, and a love
of freedom.
V is for Voting
Pioneer families
traveled westward in a
wagon train so that
they could help one
another. Early on, the
men voted to elect
leaders who helped
maintain order and set
the rules.
W is for Westward Expansion
Pioneers moved west in three waves:
From the 1770s to 1800s pioneers crossed
the Appalachian Mountains and to the Ohio
River Valley.
During the 1840s-1860s, Pioneers traveled
west to Oregon and California.
In the 1860s, pioneers settled on the Great
X is for Oxen
Oxen were used to pull Conestoga wagons on the
Oregon Trail. Oxen suffered through the desert
as they only eat grass, though they were found to
be stronger than mules.
Y is for Yoke
A yoke is wooden
bar used to join
the heads of two
working animals.
Pioneers yoked
oxen together
when they were
harnessed to a
Z is for Zebulon Pike
Zebulon Pike explored
the Louisiana Territory,
Colorado, and New
Mexico. Pikes Peak in
Colorado was named
after Pike.
Pioneer Songs
Oh Susanna
Home on the Range
Old Dan Tucker
Going West by Carol Johmann
Pioneer Life in the American West by Christy Steele
Pioneers, A Library of Congress Book by Martin W.
The Oregon Trail by R. Conrad Stein
You Wouldn’t Want to Be an American Pioneer by
You Wouldn’t Want to Work on the Railroad by Ian
Jacqueline Morely
All pictures found on Google Images.

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