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The Impact of Transcontinental Railroad and Westward Expansion on Settlement

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In the mid of the 19th century, The Dream of the Westward expansion was moving closer to reality overcrowded cities with migrants, and the doctrines of Manifest destiny were extremely promoting for the idea of westward expansion and exploring the western frontier. Beginning with the Louisiana Purchas in 1803, at the time by President Thomas Jefferson nearly doubling the size of the nation. Most Americans back then viewed the west as an arid wasteland that is no good to be anything but a great American desert (Dillon 1967) Secondly, in 1848, a journalist named John O’Sullivan coined the term Manifest destiny (Pratt 1927) encouraging the young man to set toward the largely unexplored western frontier, he argued the American People destiny is to rule the continent from the east to the west. Moreover, the belief of manifest destiny led the euro-Americans to believe that it is their duty to bring all native inhabitants that they face as they are expanding west to the civilized world.

The Louisiana Purchas and the manifest destiny and the overcrowded east coast urban cities were the most significant motives behind the westward expansion. Young migrants and as well American born families were on the search of cheap lands, evidently after the federal government had passed two primary legislation that gave the most notable push to settlers to head west, which was the Homestead Act signed into law in 1862. The Pacific railroad acts. The homesteaders were required to pay small applying fees and to complete land restoration within five years. On the other hand, the Pacific railroad act was also signed into law in 1862 to build the first transcontinental railroad, to link the east coast with the west coast, and to encourage the settlers for the idea of the westward expansion. The law was a series of acts authorizing the government to issues federal subsidies, and lands to the railroad companies, in continuing effort to encourage the railroad companies to start the construction of the transcontinental railroad. As the settlers began to travel west, they faced many significant difficulties in the journey of their dreams heading west, the hardship of traveling west was enormous, the rough terrain, and the lack of construction materials they needed to build shelter to their selves and their families, were often hard to find out in the west.

The materials they needed from the east to so was usually too expensive to ship out to them. Furthermore, the westward settlers were giving lands for free by the federal government. Nevertheless, they had separate expenses to start the farm and start producing crops; therefore, they start taking loans from the banks with high-interest rates, on the idea of paying it back when their farms produced crops. In meanwhile, most of the westward settlers were in the husbandry business, which causes the market overflooding with products causing crop prices dropping steeply. After a period, westwards farmers came into the conclusion that their farming businesses were not bringing enough revenue to maintain it and keep it successfully running; most of these farmers were a force to surrender their lands to the banks whom thy took their loans. Also, most of these farmers were a force to work in what so-called Bonanza farms (larger commercial farms were developing in multiple states in the west) to support their families. Likewise, the man struggles through the westward journey; women as well had their fair sherd of the struggle of the westward expansion women had to face harsh environmental conditions where women in the new west had to put the same working effort as the man did. According to some historians, the women in the westward expansion had taken the first step toward equal women rights in the United States.

As the Congress pass the Pacific railroad act, in July 1, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln, signed a bill giving Central Pacific Railroad Company to build from east and charter the second company the Union Pacific to build from the Missouri river west the bill guaranteed to the railroad companies forty thousands of dollar of grants for each mile completed but on the same bill the government will hold the funds until either of the railroad complete the first forty miles of tracks, also if the transcontinental tracks would not be complete within twelve years period, the government would confiscate all the railroad companies assets (Duran 2013) Inevitably after the railroad companies start to lay tracks on both directions of the continent, employing hundreds and hundreds of Irish immigrants, but soon enough, they run into an issue finding dependable and workers. Therefore, the railroad companies emphasized the recruitment effort toward the Chinese immigrants despite the point of view of the Chinese workers as weak labor that would fit for the laying tracks job, by some of the railroad companies directors.

However, the Chinese workers proved their efficiency and worthiness when the Central Pacific railroad company faced an enormous obstacle in their way the Sierra Nevada Mountains, in order to cross Sierra Nevada Mountains hurdles, the Central Pacific railroad company had to dig tunnels through the hard rocks of Sierra Nevada Mountains. Conclusion. The westward expansion had a massive positive effect on the united states economy. As in the earliest of the 1850s, the migrants’ number had doubled, and the need of farming produce was at its highest the westward expansion had provided the Unites States Crops market with more than enough products to sustain itself. Also, most of the time, westwards settlers overflooded the market with their produce stirring traders to export products internationally.

Westward expansion turned the United States from being in desperate for the need of products to endure the massive migration waves, to a country that is self-sufficient and to the stage which enabled the united states to export produce. Furthermore, in the 1860s, Saint Louis city was the farthest point out to the west in the United States, the westward expansion contributed massively to the creation of new urban cities on the far west such as; Kansas City, Denver, Omaha, and many more triggering economic development and employment opportunities to many Americans. On the other hand, the completion of the first transcontinental railroad linking the country from the farthest point on the eastern coast to the farthest point of southwest of the United States played a significant role on the economic prosperity in the United States; transcontinental railroad meant to many people that traveling west is possible, and accessible to many people with average wealth. Also, the transcontinental railroad facilitated the economic growth of many industries in the west such as; the Cattle industry, Crops industry, and the mining industry, furthermore, according to many historians, the completion of the first transcontinental railroad helped bring the west to the world and the world to the west. Also, the transcontinental railroad changed the perspective of Americans on time, by shortcutting the time of travel from east to west, from months in a wagon pulled by animals, to little over a week traveling abroad in train cart.

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