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Westward Expansion

             Writer and historian Noel Ignatiev posed the question, "What is the role of westward expansion in American culture?" His answer points the reader in an entirely different direction than a person of average patriotic and historic beliefs would have expected. What was and is our belief about ourselves as we examine the westward expansion are both as enlightening as it is painful. This, of course depends on whose historical perspective it is. The proud history widely recognized by most Americans, focuses on the story of the Puritans quest for freedom and the expansion west as natural extension of this movement to the new continent. It tells of the struggles and successes, colonization of the new world, as well as the heroic fight for independence from England. However, from the perspective of the black slaves or Native Americans, the story of our heritage and the subsequent expansion west is much less than heroic. It is a story of man's inhumanity to his fellow beings.1 .
             During the nineteenth century just after the War of 1812 there was a significant migration of people with no land and no slaves to remaining lands in the east. Around this time speculators were making a great deal of money selling land, sometimes making ten times what they would pay for it. Professor William Scarborough in an Internet article about the Indians displacement in the 19th century writes of one man, "Guy S. Whitfield of Alabama, who said he was making a thousand dollars a week for land speculation." When the land was purchased it need to be cleared and worked. The .
             demand for labor increased and contributed to the growth of the slave trade. "Mississippi,.
             1. Noel Ignatiev, "Noel Ignatiev on the role of westward expansion." Judgment Day, pars. 1-4 [article online] accessed 16 February 2003. Available from http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/aia/part4/4i3098.html. .
             for example, the slave population increased 197 percent in the single decade of the 1830's.

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