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Manifest Destiny and Expansion: 1815–1887


49th parallel

boundary line between Great Britain/Canada and the United States as established by the Oregon Treaty of 1846


boundary line between British Canada and the United States sought by President Polk. The line lay much farther north than the 49th parallel, at the southern border of the Russian territory of Alaska.

Alta California

region that is now California, Nevada, and northern Arizona


belief that spirit beings inhabit all natural things, such as animals, plants, stars, and the moon and sun

antebellum period

historical era in the South from approximately 1800 to the onset of the Civil War


title giving individuals the right to mine for gold in a specified area; also refers to the area itself

Comstock Lode

rich deposit of silver named after Henry Comstock, who partially owned the land where it was discovered

cotton boll

fluffy round clump of fiber that grows on the cotton plant and is used to manufacture cotton clothing and other products

cotton gin

machine invented by Eli Whitney in 1793 that separated seeds from the short fibers of upland cotton bolls


fortune seekers in the 1849 Gold Rush

King Cotton

term that describes the fiscal and political importance of cotton in the pre–Civil War South

Manifest Destiny

belief that U.S. expansion west to the Pacific Ocean and south to part of Mexico was necessary and even divinely ordained

plantation system

system of privately owned large tracts of land for cultivating cash crops such as cotton and tobacco and requiring enslaved persons to work in the fields


Native American settlement with homes made of adobe or stone


large area of land allocated by a Spanish government grant for raising beef cattle, horses, or sheep

Republic of Texas

independent republic of Texas, founded in 1836 and dissolved in 1846

Second Treaty of Fort Laramie

treaty made between the U.S. government and the Lakota, Dakota Sioux, and Arapaho tribes in 1868. The treaty stipulated that the sacred Black Hills of South Dakota were not to be developed and were a possession of the Sioux and Arapaho tribes.

Sutter's Mill

location where a major gold rush began in January 1848, near the Sacramento River in California

Wounded Knee Massacre

massacre of over 200 Sioux men, women, and children by American troops at Wounded Knee, South Dakota, on December 29, 1890. This battle ended the Plains Wars.