Two Visions of the West

“Mythic West”
vs.
 Pioneers & gunslingers
 Individualism,
freedom, & opportunity
“Tragic West”
 Greed, irresponsibility,
exploitation
 Destroyed wildlife &
nearly exterminated
Native Americans
Reasons for Moving West

PUSH Factors
 Civil War
 Failure to achieve
prosperity in the East
 Repression
PULL Factors
 Railroad
 Land availability
 Natural resources
The Transcontinental Railroad

 Civil War made transcontinental RR
possible – Pacific Railroads Act
(1862)
 A race between Union Pacific and
Central Pacific ended in
Promontory, Utah (1869)
 Chinese recruited for RR work were
later subject to racism
 Chinese Exclusion Act (1882) due to
resentment of white workers
Diversity in the West

 Women in the West had greater
equality within the family
 Large numbers of immigrants
 African American “Exodusters”
fled post-Reconstruction
discrimination and poverty
 “Buffalo soldiers” in the Indian
Wars
Mining

 Began with California Gold
Rush in 1849
 Comstock Lode (1873)
generated vast wealth
 Permanent settlements resulted
 In late 1800s, mining turned
commercial
Great Sioux Wars

 Violations of Fort Laramie Treaty (1851)
brought conflict
 Sand Creek Massacre (1864) and other
violence led to new Indian policies
 Great Sioux Wars were the result of Custer’s
expedition into Sioux hunting grounds
 Despite victory at Little Bighorn, Sioux
eventually gave up and were moved to
reservations
Indian Resistance Ends

“Tell your people that since the Great Father promised that we
should never be removed, we have been moved five times… I
think you had better put the Indians on wheels and you can run
them around wherever you wish.” – Chief Spotted Tail of the Sioux
“I am tired of fighting. Our chiefs are killed… The old men are
dead… I want to have time to look for my children, and see how
many of them I can find… Hear me, my chiefs! I am tired. My
heart is sick and sad. From where the sun now stands I will fight
no more forever.” – Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce
Ghost Dance Movement

 Movement started by Wovoka
in 1888 in order to see Indian
lands returned
 When Lakota Sioux defied the
ban on the Ghost Dance, this
led to the Wounded Knee
Massacre (1890)
Decimation of the Buffalo

Resulted from:
 Overhunting
 Climate change
 Competition for grasslands
 Disease
 Barbed wire
Remaking Indian Policy

“Many, if not most, of our Indian wars have had their origin in
broken promises and acts of injustice on our part.” – Rutherford B.
Hayes
 A Century of Dishonor (1881) brought attention to the Indians’
plight
 Dawes Severalty Act (1887) was central to the new policy of
“Americanizing” Indians
Homesteading

 Homestead Act (1862) and railroad land grants made farm land
available for purchase
 Land is cheap, but life was hard – many claims abandoned
 New technologies played a significant role in conquering the
West
 Small farmers who stayed struggled with indebtedness, leading
to political movement through the Grange
Cattle Drives

 Shortage of meat after the Civil War created opportunities
 Cowtowns emerged, but the boom was shortlived
End of the Frontier

 1890 census showed no end to consistent settlement, which
prompted the issuance of Frederick Jackson Turner’s frontier
thesis
 Turner believed that American character was shaped by the
existence of new areas to conquer
“Four centuries from the discovery of America, at the end of a
hundred years under the Constitution, the frontier has gone and
with its going has closed the first period of American history.” –
Frederick Jackson Turner
Download

Settling the Far West