School Improvement in Maryland
Clarifications: Each clarification provides an explanation of an indicator/objective to help teachers better understand the skills and/or concepts.

Standard 5.0 History

Topic B. Emergence, Expansion and Changes in Nations and Empires

Indicator 3. Evaluate westward movement in the United States before 1877

Objective a. Explain the political, economic, and social factors that motivated people to move west


In many ways, the movement of people westward defined the United States during the nineteenth century. Those who traveled west were motivated by a variety of economic, political, and social goals. The most common motivation was the search for economic opportunity, whether it be through farming new lands, fur trapping, gold mining, cattle ranching, or other pursuits. Linked to these economic motives was the desire for “living space.” As the population of the United States swelled through immigration and natural increase, eastern cities became crowded and good farm land scarce. Some settlers also set out for religious reasons, hoping to find a place where they could practice their faith freely or to make new converts to Christianity. Others were compelled to go west by a thirst for adventure. In some cases, people settled western lands in order to help secure those lands for the United States and move the nation closer to fulfilling its “manifest destiny.” To a great degree, those moving west did so in family groups and expected to create new communities modeled on those they had left.

Resources for Objective 5.B.3.a:
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