Westward Expansion, Civil War, and Race


I taught a lesson this morning about how the United States’ conquest of the west had implications for the expansion (or not) of slavery. As part of that discussion, we wrestled with the fact that the U.S.’s acquisition of territory from Mexico meant that suddenly people who identified as white Americans had to reconcile the citizenship of a lot of people who didn’t quite look or act like them. By taking the land that would become¬†California, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Arizona, and Nevada, the United States also got all of the people who lived there: American Indians, Mexicans, Spanish colonials, etc. All the while, white Americans were fighting over the inclusion of black Americans within the American body politic. Racial categories and westward expansion were tightly wound together.

I wanted to share this video, which never fails to totally confuse my students, but also never fails to start a really interesting conversation about race and whether or not it really exists.

On the topic of race, inclusion, and sectionalism, happy end-of-the-2016-election-season to us all!


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