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Western Expansion and Reform (1829-1859)

Presidents Andrew Jackson, James Polk, and John Tyler, like many Americans of this time, embraced the notion of enlarging the "empire for liberty."  In other words they wanted to expand the borders of America westward.  While some pioneers headed west to California, others attempted to expand the idea of what "liberty" in America meant.  A miner strikes gold in California - Credit: "John Stone with Gold Mining Pan" ca. 1939. California Gold: Northern California Folk Music from the Thirties. Collected by Sidney Robertson Cowell, Library of Congress.

Abolitionists opposed laws that kept African Americans enslaved, and advocates of women's suffrage argued that wives, mothers and daughters should play a more significant role in society by voting, holding office, and working outside the home.


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