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Early pioneers extended their settlement to the West. The US was a new country there were vast expanses of land. Many pioneers traveled west to find inexpensive farms and new opportunities. In 1803 Jefferson bought the Louisiana territory. In 1820 Mexico allowed US citizens to settle in Texas. 1846 Mormon pioneers left Illinois and headed out West. In 1848 the California gold rush began. In 1862 the first Homestead Act offered free land for settlers. Many people took the risk of pioneer travel to pursue a better life.
Daily life in colonial America was extremely harsh for the first settlers. They were in a new country and did not have friends or relatives to help them in this unknown territory. As the American colonies grew large cities began to grow as well. These cities became centers of trade for the surrounding rural areas. People worked as farmers, merchants, and as tradesmen. Children living in colonial cities have access to schools and education to a higher degree than those living on farms. Churches were well attended and often served as a meeting place for the locals to get together and discuss the news of the day. The wealthy often wore large powdered wigs in an attempt to emulate the latest fashions that were popular in England. Rural farmers socialized in taverns and at dances and festivals.
Westward expansion began with the Louisiana purchase, the gold rush, the Oregon Trail and a belief in manifest destiny. Pioneers and immigrants built the Overland trails to the American Old West throughout the 19th century beginning around 1829 until 1870 as an alternative to railroad transportation. Immigrants colonized much of North America west of the Great Plains in mass migrations in the mid-19th century. There are many motives for this treacherous journey including religious persecution, inexpensive land and the gold rush. The history of these trails and colonizers who traveled them have become embedded in American culture and folklore. The Oregon Trail, the California Trail, Old Spanish Trail, Santa Fe Trail, Southern Emigrant Trail and the Mormon Trail still have signs along the highways that today's modern travelers can follow. The most common vehicle for Oregon and California colonizers were covered wagons pulled by oxes or mules.10% of the migrants who attempted to cross the United States died during the trip.