Peopling the Expanding Nation, 1776–1900
The inhabitants of the new nation were diverse and they would become more so with westward expansion, importation of enslaved Africans, incorporation and conquest of land and peoples, and increasing migration and immigration. With few restrictions on U.S. immigration until the late 1800s, peoples from Europe, the Americas, and Asia arrived seeking land and economic opportunity.
For the tour’s next stop, follow the wall around the corner again.
Many peoples populating the vast lands of the new nation often carried with them small remembrances and traditions of their past lives. Holding and creating these objects rekindled memories and allowed people to share their cultural heritage with others over time.
Eagle, around 1850
The tour’s next stop is at the case to your right.
Pushed and Pulled: European Immigration
Between 1840 and 1860, 4.5 million Europeans arrived in the United States, most from Germany, Ireland, and Scandinavia. Many settled along the East Coast; others came to the Midwest, already home to Native peoples.
Map of Anishinaabe, Ojibwe Reservation, Wisconsin, 1887
Indian Removal in the Midwest
The U.S. government’s 1830 Removal Act forcibly pushed Indians from their ancestral lands in the eastern United States to places west of the Mississippi. The act thereby made land in the Midwest available for European American settlement. Some Wisconsin and Michigan tribes resisted removal and continued to inhabit these lands. Those who remained learned to negotiate with European Americans, exchanging goods and agricultural knowledge. Some were able to retain Native belief systems; others became Christians.
Native Americans occasionally wore western-made clothing while on diplomatic trips to Washington, D.C. Agosa, an Anishinaabe chief, traveled as a delegate to the nation’s capital in 1836. An Anishinaabe-made band such as this could have adorned Agosa’s top hat. Later, with the threat of removal, Agosa purchased land and relocated his people.
A chief wearing both western and Native clothing
Our next stop is farther into the gallery. Continue around the corner to your right and along the next wall.