Missionaries, Fur Traders, and Explorers

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Missionaries, Fur Traders, and Explorers

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Missionaries, Fur Traders, and Explorers

© 2010, The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All Rights Reserved.



Expanding Westward

Population growth was stimulated by expansionism motivated by patriotism of America after the War of 1812 and relative calm of internal events. While one in seven Americans lived in the west in 1810, one in four Americans lived west of Appalachian Mountains by 1820.


Reasons for Westward Expansion

Between 1800 and 1820, the population of the United States nearly doubled.

Exhausted agricultural lands in the East.

The spread of the plantation system in the South.

The federal government’s policy toward Indian tribes in the West.


Father Kino

1700’s - Father Kino brings Christianity and agriculture to Indians. Peaceful relations with Indians allows silver mining in Tucson &




Circuit Riders

Circuit rider is a popular term referring to clergy in the earliest years of the United States who were assigned to travel around specific geographic territories to minister to settlers and organize congregations. Circuit riders were clergy in the Methodist Episcopal Church and related denominations.




THE FUR TRADE AND MOUNTAIN MENUp until 1840, beaver felt hats were fashionable in Europe and the U.S. The felt hat industry became the driving force behind the fur trade. Beaver were extinct in western Europe and were close to extinction in Scandinavia and Russia. The North American fur trade became a new source. The British Hudson’s Bay Company was the preeminent force in the fur business in North America but soon American companies challenged their control.


John Jacob Astor established the American Fur Company in 1808. Later he set up the Pacific Fur Company and Southwest Fur Company with trading posts across the country to meet the growing demand for furs. He built a fort in Astoria Oregon which became a base for exploration and fur.


Astor’s fur trading post, Astoria, on the Columbia River


Trade and Trapping in the Far West

Mexican independence in 1821 opened new trade as merchants brought American made goods to sell; Mexico also opened new lands for settlement for America’s growing population

Fur traders trapped their own pelts for trade rather than relying on trade to supply them

Andrew Henry and William Ashley founded Rocky Mountain Fur Company in 1822; joined by Jedediah S. Smith

Trappers sometimes were employees of companies like the Rocky Mountain Fur Company earning salaries for furs supplied

This market economy exchanged furs for needed goods when supply trains that arrived in the west

Intermarriage with Indians and Hispanics became common

Trappers or “mountain men” established themselves in Utah and New Mexico where they lived peacefully and successfully with the Native Americans

Reports from explorers like Zebulon Pike and Stephen Long enticed more people to settle in the west


Map of Lewis and Clark's journey of exploration


Sacagawea was the Shoshone Indian wife of the interpreter Toussaint Charbonneau, a French fur trader that Lewis and Clark hired. She was instrumental in providing friendly relations between the explorers and the various tribes they encountered on their expedition.


What did Lewis and Clark accomplish?

Their main goal was to find an all-water route across the continent, a Northwest Passage. Although such a route does not exist, the journey had a major impact on the future course of U.S. history. The immense amount of geographic information undid much of the erroneous thinking of the time. Americans were made aware of the great potential of the new lands; the stage was set for increased exploration, trade, settlement and annexation.


Pike was a career army officer and explorer who led two parties of exploration (1805-1807) into the Louisiana Territory. He and another party explored the Arkansas and Red Rivers, which formed part of the boundary between the lands of the Louisiana Territory and New Spain. Finding their headwaters was important to the U.S. However, a second part of Pike's instructions, to make a reconnaissance of the Spanish settlements in New Mexico, actually meant spying on a neighboring country in peacetime.

Zebulon Pike led the second expedition


Long was an army topographical engineer whose expedition lasted from 1818-1823. He explored between the Mississippi River and the Rocky Mountains. Later in 1823, he searched for the sources of the Mississippi by steamboat, ending far up the Missouri in Yellowstone country. The steamboat was built to resemble a dragon to impress the Indians. The highest summit of the Rocky Mountains was named Long's Peak in his honor.

Stephen Harriman Long’s expedition



Great American Desert

This was the term to describe the region between the Mississippi river and Rocky mountains. It was believed this region was unsuitable for cultivation. This area was skipped over by the early pioneers in favor of Oregon and California. The reports of Pike and Long did much to form public opinion that this was a “desert”.

Great American Desert



John C. Fremont

During the 1840s and early 1850s, John C. Fremont, a noted western explorer renowned for his active role in the conquest of California during the Mexican War, made four expeditions with his cartographer Charles


throughout the western United States. Preuss's seven-sheet map of the two-thousand-mile Oregon Trail was published as a congressional document in 1846. Migrants relied heavily upon this series of maps.



Considered one of the most influential accounts of the American Far West, John C. Fremont's Report of his expeditions was published in more than two-dozen editions in the first fifteen years. The popularity of his Report is due in large part to the literary skill of his wife Jesse (1824-1918), the daughter of expansionist Senator Thomas Hart Benton. This view of the dividing ridge of the Sierras, February 14, 1844, drawn shortly before Fremont's descent into the Sacramento Valley, documents the party's daring winter crossing guided by the mountaineer Kit Carson.













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