In 1850 when the United States made California its 31st state, the country hit the jackpot. Not only was the new state rich in natural resources like gold, it had nearly 160,000 square miles of public land, all potentially up for grabs to real estate-hungry settlers. Many people encouraged westward migration, especially East Coast newspapermen like Horace Greeley, who shouted “Go west, young man, and grow with the country!” John O’Sullivan added to the momentum with his talk of “Manifest Destiny,” a term he coined to describe what he believed was America’s destiny to expand across North America from coast to coast.

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