By the time a series of wars broke out between the two countries, the French were occupying most of the interior from the Appalachians to the Mississippi and beyond. However, their holdings were sparsely settled. Even with Indian allies, they could not make headway against the 13 closely settled English colonies. At the end of the French and Indian War in 1763 England took over all North America, including Canada, westward to the Mississippi River. French Louisiana, beyond the river, was ceded to Spain who also held Florida. In the hope of ending troubles with the Indians -- and of taking over the French-Indian fur trade -- England annexed the country north and west of the Ohio River to Quebec, and closed it to settlement. This action, provided for by the Quebec Act of 1774, was taken too late; colonists were already pushing across the mountains. The Quebec Act was especially resented by American colonists because the original crown grants of lands to several colonies stretched indefinitely westward, from sea to sea.
James HARROD established Harrodstown (Kentucky) in 1774. In 1775 Richard Henderson purchased Kentucky lands from the Indians and employed Daniel BOONE as a guide. BOONE blazed the Wilderness Road and founded Boonesborough. Moving westward from North Carolina in 1770, James ROBERTSON settled on the Watauga River (Tennessee), and was joined in 1772 by John SEVIER. During the Revolution Virginia organized Kentucky as a county and sent Colonel George Rogers CLARK to defend it. With a company of frontiersmen he took the old French Settlements of Kaskaskia (Illinois) and Vincennes (Indiana) and threatened the British at Detroit. SEVIER and Isaac SHELBY led their frontiersmen to Kings Mountain on the border between the Carolinas, and stopped British invasion. The military successes of the Americans made the British willing to turn Indian problems over to the United States. In the Treaty of Paris (1783) they agreed to set the western boundary at the Mississippi, rather than at the Alleghenies. Virginia, Massachusetts, and other states claimed various parts of the western lands as their own. The small states without western claims, led by Maryland, delayed adopting the Articles of Confederation until the conflicting land claims had been surrendered to the federal government.
The Ordinance of 1787, establishing the Territory Northwest of the River Ohio, set the pattern for western settlement. It provided for territorial government and eventual admission of states, ordered a survey with one section in each township reserved for the use of schools, prohibited slavery, and provided a Bill of Rights. The Ohio Company, led by Manasseh CUTLER, Rufus PUTNAM, and others, contracted for lands at one dollar an acre and settled Marietta (Ohio) in 1788. Virginia permitted its county of Kentucky to become a state in 1792. When North Carolina reluctantly surrendered its western lands with no provision for territorial government, settlers set up the State of Franklin and elected SEVIER governor. Their action was not recognized, but the area became the state of Tennessee in 1796.
In the Northwest Territory the rush of settlement met resistance from Indian tribes led by Little Turtle of the Miami's. Major General Arthur ST. CLAIR, governor of the territory, was defeated at the headwaters of the Wabash River November 4, 1792. Major General "Mad" Anthony WAYNE took command and decisively defeated the Indians at Fallen Timbers, August 20, 1794, The treaty of Greenville, 1795, opened a vast area to settlement. Ohio became a state in 1803. The first wave of migration across the Alleghenies, stimulated by Wayne's treaty with the Indians and the opening of the port of New Orleans, was slowed down by a new threat from the Indians. Tecumseh of the Shawnees was one of a very few Indian leaders able to unite other tribes with his own against the whites. While he was persuading the Creeks in the South to join his cause, his brother, known as the Prophet, was defeated by General William Henry HARRISON in the Battle of Tippecanoe (Indiana) in 1811.
The end of the War of 1812 in 1815 marked the beginning of the Great
Migration. Within five years 1,250,000 persons moved west. These were
the "Flush Times" in Alabama and Mississippi, when many plantation
owners moved there with their slaves to plant new lands in cotton. At
the same time many Southerners fled slave competition by moving northwest
into southern Indiana and Illinois.
The National, or Cumberland Road, begun in 1811, was completed to
Wheeling (now West Virginia) in 1818. It was soon jammed with horsemen
and vehicles, including the huge Conestoga wagons that became the
"prairie schooners" or covered wagons of emigrants.
This movement is shown in the roll of new states: Indiana, 1816;
Mississippi, 1817; Illinois, 1818; Alabama, 1819; Maine, 1820; and
Missouri, 1821. Maine and Missouri were admitted as a result of the
Missouri Compromise, the first serious controversy over slavery.