Ever since the first pioneers settled in the United States at the East , the country has been expanding westward. When President Thomas Jefferson bought the Louisiana territory from the French government in 1803, it doubled the size of the existing United States. Jefferson believed that, for the republic to survive, westward expansion was necessary to create independent, virtuous citizens as owners of small farms. He wrote that those who “labor the earth” are God’s chosen people and greatly encouraged westward expansion. The pioneers who flocked to the West, all had their own set of reasons for taking on the long, treacherous journey to settle there.

Reasons for Moving West

  • There was a vast amount of land that could be obtained cheaply
  • Great reports were continually sent back East about how fruitful and wonderful the West is, sparking a lot of interest.
  • The constraints of European civilization had a lot of people stuck in factory and other low-paid jobs. For the working class it was almost impossible to work themselves up in life, something that was very doable in the New World.
  • Mining opportunities, silver, and the gold rush was a big draw for many
  • The expanding railroad provided easier access to supplies, making life in the West easier.
  • Certain wheat strains were discovered and was capable of adapting to the climate of the plains
  • Being a “cowboy” and working on farms with cattle was romanticized
  • The lure of adventure