Western Expansion Before the Civil War

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Western Expansion Before the Civil War

Western Expansion Before the Civil War examines how and why Americans moved west during the 1800s. Students study many geographical features of the United States, as well as the history of early explorers, including Daniel Boone, Zebulon Pike, and Lewis and Clark, who were aided by Sacagawea. Students learn how canals, steamboats, and railroads spurred westward expansion, and they are introduced to Tecumseh, a leader of Native American resistance to settlers and government officials who broke treaties and pushed Native Americans out of their homelands. In addition, students learn about the concept of Manifest Destiny and how it was used to justify acquisitions of territory by the United States from the 1850s onward; about the Indian Removal Act and the Seminole resistance led by Osceola; about the annexation of Texas, and how it fueled the controversy over slavery and provided a pretext for war with Mexico; and about the Oregon Trail, the experiences of Brigham Young and the Mormons, and the gold rush that drew many people to California. The material incorporates a rich array of civics-focused knowledge, questions, and activities. In choosing the specific content to call to teachers’ and students’ attention, we have been guided by the civics test developed by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.


This unit includes a Student Reader, Timeline Image Cards, and Teacher Guide, providing Guided Reading Supports and the following Additional Activities: art and music of the 1800s; Lewis and Clark expedition activity; domain vocabulary exercises; map skills exercises; The Adventures of Tom Sawyer fiction excerpt; analysis of a Native American speech about forced removal; and a Unit Assessment.

Lesson tags: 
Good for Parents
Creative Commons License: 
Attribution Non-commercial ShareAlike CC (BY-NC-SA)


February 2019
This is the most wonderful unit on this complex subject. The information is well presented, thoughtful, and engaging.
February 2019
Requires additional memberships to obtain lesson plans.
February 2019
This really concerns us! The Teacher Guide comprises the lesson plans and should be readily available with no additional permissions. Are you unable to download the Teacher Guide itself? I have followed the links to our site myself, and had no difficulty, but that may be because I work here. There are external links within the Teacher Guide. We try to make sure that those are also easily accessible. We have run into a few sites where the permissions have changed or the page we link to has been disabled. If that is the case, would you please let me know which link it is? That way I can try to find another one. Thanks so much for the feedback!