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LESSONS: GRADES 4-8  ›  Making History at the White House, "The White House and Western Expansion"
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CORRESPONDING TEACHER'S TEXT

The relationship between Americans and their land has been crucial in establishing a sense of identity as a nation. The large physical size of the expanding United States was expected to accommodate diverse interests, provide social and economic opportunity for many, and eventually guarantee status as a world power. Americans have struggled first to capture much of the continent, and then to preserve the land and natural resources crucial to the country’s continuing development.

Much of this story resides within the White House. The four topics contained in this section illustrate the role of the president and White House, from westward expansion to the more recent debates over the environment. Thomas Jefferson opened a museum in the White House to promote westward expansion and defend his purchase of the Louisiana territory. James K. Polk’s declaration of war against Mexico legitimized the acquisition of Texas, New Mexico and California. Theodore Roosevelt used his authority to help raise consciousness about the need for conservation of natural resources. Lyndon and Lady Bird Johnson encouraged the preservation of the pristine quality of much of the American landscape. Although the ambition to expand diminished in the twentieth century, concerns about the natural environment only increased.




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