In Progress
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In Progress

The Second Frontier

The second great westward push carried the frontier across the Alleghenies and deep into the heart of the continent. By 1800 Kentucky and Tennessee had entered the union as states, and Ohio was soon to follow them. In 1803 the Louisiana Purchase doubled the size of the United States. The great migration, however, was to come in the years following the War of 1812. During that war, Shawnee chief Tecumseh led what was perhaps the most powerful pan-Indian military force ever assembled in North America. Tecumseh’s death at the Battle of the Thames (1813) signaled the end of the confederacy, however, and with the Treaty of Ghent (1814), Britain surrendered its remaining lands in the Northwest. A traveler wrote in 1816 that “the Atlantic States seem to have had their day” and that the more active and enterprising, “the people who partake of youth, enterprise and hardihood…are looking more and more to the West.” A year later another traveler, himself on the road, noted that “Old America seems to be breaking up and moving westward.”


Within a generation (1840), settlement had spread across the lower South along the Gulf of Mexico to the Mississippi and up the Red River, crowding the Native Americans out and creating a kingdom of cotton. It spread along the Great Lakes into Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana, and Illinois to carry wheat and corn and hogs with it. In the centre, it spread from Kentucky and Tennessee and crossed the Mississippi and reached the great bend of the Missouri from which the traders and trappers made their way on westward.

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