Settling the Far West

Two Visions of the West
“Mythic West”
 Pioneers & gunslingers
 Individualism,
freedom, & opportunity
“Tragic West”
 Greed, irresponsibility,
 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
 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
 Began with California Gold
Rush in 1849
 Comstock Lode (1873)
generated vast wealth
 Permanent settlements resulted
 In late 1800s, mining turned
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
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.
 A Century of Dishonor (1881) brought attention to the Indians’
 Dawes Severalty Act (1887) was central to the new policy of
“Americanizing” Indians
 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
 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
 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