Social Studies - 2018-19

VS.6c - Migration of Virginians into Western Territories

The student will demonstrate an understanding of the role of Virginia in the establishment of the new American nation by

c) explaining the influence of geography and technological advances on the migration of Virginians into other states and western territories in the first half of the 1800s.

Adopted: 2015


  • Movement is a major geographical theme.
  • Geography influences the movement of people and ideas.


Geography influenced the movement of people and ideas as Virginians moved to and beyond the Virginia frontier.


After the American Revolution, Virginia’s agricultural base began to change, and as a result, large numbers of Virginians moved west and to the deep South to find better farmland and new opportunities:

  • Tobacco farming was hard on the soil, causing many farmers to look west and south for new land to farm.
  • The development of the cotton gin led to the opening of new lands in the south and attracted settlers from Virginia.
  • The mechanical reaper allowed farmers to grow more wheat with fewer workers, which forced many Virginians to leave the state in search of jobs.
  • Virginians migrated into western territories, looking for large areas of land and new opportunities.
  • As Virginians moved, they took their enslaved people, traditions, ideas, and cultures with them.
  • Many enslaved African Americans were sold to people who lived in other southern states.
  • Settlers crossed the Appalachian Mountains through the Cumberland Gap as they migrated to new lands in the west.


Updated: May 18, 2018