Growth in America

  • Homesteaders

    Homesteaders

    Western guidebooks described the plains area as a place with little water or firewood. But when the Homestead Act of 1862 was declared, even these dire descriptions couldn’t discourage settlers looking for a better way of life. Fun Facts Anyone was allowed to claim a tract of 160 acres. The…


  • Getting to the West: Trains, Railways, and the Pony Express

    Getting to the West: Trains, Railways, and the Pony Express

    The mid-to-late 1800s marked a time of great growth as settlers, looking for better opportunities, forged west. Forward thinking businessmen and politicians worked to develop a network of railways that would stretch across the United States. Towns sprung up along the railways. Farmers and ranchers could send wheat, potatoes, cattle,…


  • Cowboys, Outlaws, and Heroes

    Cowboys, Outlaws, and Heroes

    The wide, open west meant acres and acres of land for ranching. Once the railway came, ranchers could make huge profits by shipping their cattle to large cities, such as Chicago. During cattle drives, cowboys drove cattle from Texas to cattle towns, which sprung up near the railways. These cattle…


  • The Reconstruction Years

    The Reconstruction Years

    At the end of the Civil War, America was bitterly divided. In his second inaugural address, President Lincoln asked Americans to “bind up the nation’s wounds.” He hoped Americans would forgive each other and work for peace. After Lincoln’s assassination, Vice President Andrew Johnson became President. He also wanted to…


  • Lincoln’s Assassination

    Lincoln’s Assassination

    As the Civil War ended, Lincoln pleaded with Americans to be gentle with each other and to work toward peace. This was not to be so. Five days after General Lee surrendered at Appomattox, President Lincoln attended a play at Ford’s Theater in Washington D.C. At 10:15, John Wilkes Booth, an…


  • The Oregon Trail

    The Oregon Trail

    Imagine traveling with your family for months in a covered wagon the size of your bathroom. All the food, clothing, and tools your family owns must fit in that wagon; there is little room for toys. You eat dried meat, biscuits, and beans for most meals – and you’re happy…


  • The Gold Rush

    The Gold Rush

    In 1848, James Wilson Marshall, a carpenter from New Jersey, found flakes of gold in a river near Sacramento, California. He was building a saw mill for John Sutter. Although Sutter and Marshall tried to keep the find a secret, word quickly got out when Sam Brannon, a local shopkeeper,…