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The Westward Expansion of the United States, 1803-90

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About this Course

About the Course

In this course, Dr Kevin Waite (University of Durham) explores the westward expansion of the United States in period 1803-90. After a broad introduction to the period in which we outline some of the factors that contributed to this westward movement, we think about the foundation of the American state in the late 18th century and the initial attempts at expansion, culminating in the Louisiana Purchase of 1804. After that, we look at encounters between white settlers and Native Americans in the period 1810-40, focusing in particular on the War of 1812 and the Trail of Tears, before moving on in the fourth module to explore how the issue of slavery contributed to America's expansion into Texas and further west. In the fifth module, we see how westward expansion exacerbated tensions between the free states of the North and the slave states of the South and ultimately led to the outbreak of the American Civil War (1861-65), before learning, in the sixth module, about how hostilities with Native Americans continued in the decades following the Civil War. Finally, in the seventh module, we study the treatment of Native Americans in the final decades of the nineteenth century, focusing in particular on the creation of Indian Boarding Schools, the Dawes Act of 1887, and the massacre at Wounded Knee.

About the Lecturer

Kevin Waite is an assistant professor in American history at Durham University, where he teaches and writes on slavery, imperialism, and the American West. His book-in-progress explores how slaveholders extended their political dominion across the American West in the mid-19th century, and in the process, hastened the coming of the Civil War. His scholarly articles and book chapters have covered a wide range of subjects: manliness in Napoleonic-era English public schools; the political struggle over America’s first transcontinental railroad; the evolving myth of George Armstrong Custer in Hollywood film; and the Civil War in Indian Territory.