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Conquest and Settlement
THE CONTESTED WEST
MYTHOLOGIES OF THE WEST
BUFFALO BILL CODY
FRONTIER THESIS
That the frontier, the free and empty land to the
West, was the most defining element of
America
 One of the most enduring of the myths about
the West
 Written by Frederick Jackson Turner, historian
 In reality, the land was never empty or free

FREDERICK JACKSON TURNER
TURNER THESIS

Frontier as a crucible for American identity

In reality, the West was not particularly
exceptional—facing the same challenges as
other areas
 Exploitation
of land
 Exploitation of labor
 Consolidation of capital
 Vicious ethnic and racial rivalries
WINCHESTER “GUN THAT WON THE WEST”
SAN JOSE’S FIRST AMUSEMENT PARK
DISNEY
HOMESTEAD ACT 1862

It promised 160 acres free to any citizen or
prospective citizen, male or female, who settled
on the land for five years.
RAILROAD LAND GRANTS
RAILROADS AND DEVELOPMENT OF THE WEST
Generous federal land grants meant that
railroads could sell land next to track at a profit
 Railroads received more than 180 million acres
 They connected with major cattle trailheads to
capitalize on markets

THE CHINESE
By 1870, 63,000 Chinese immigrants lived in
America but were denied access to citizenship
 1876 Workingman’s Party formed to fight for
Chinese exclusion

CHINESE EXCLUSION ACT 1882


Whereas, in the opinion of the Government of the United
States the coming of Chinese laborers to this country
endangers the good order of certain localities within the
territory thereof: Therefore,
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of
the United States of America in Congress assembled, That
from and after the expiration of ninety days next after the
passage of this act, and until the expiration of ten years next
after the passage of this act, the coming of Chinese laborers
to the United States be, and the same is hereby, suspended;
and during such suspension it shall not be lawful for any
Chinese laborer to come, or, having so come after the
expiration of said ninety days, to remain within the United
States.
CHINESE EXCLUSION
BUFFALO SOLDIERS
MINING
COMSTOCK LODE

the Washoe basin in Nevada
where the richest silver ore on the
continent
SILVER MINERS
SILVER MINING
 Silver
mining required capital, technical knowledge,
equipment
 Rife with speculation, misrepresentation, thievery
 Drew thousands, including immigrants, especially Irish
 Virginia City
 1870s, one out of 30 miners injured on the job; one out
of 80 killed
 Depicted as lawless, often urbanized and industrialized
STAMP MILL
TERRITORY INTO STATEHOOD


1873 new vein uncovered, transitioning from small scale
industry to corporate enterprise, creating a radically new social
and economic environment
Nevada statehood because of the mines 1864
DIVERSITY IN THE WEST

New Englanders, Mormons, African-Americans,
Mexicans, Latinos, and immigrants from Asia,
Europe and Canada

Complex blend of racism and prejudice

Violence between cattle ranchers and sheep
ranchers; ranchers and farmers; miners and their
bosses; rival Indian groups; and whites and
Indians
‘SOD BUSTERS’

Extremely poor farmers
OPEN RANGE
Herds with as many as 3,000 head of cattle
grazed on public lands along the cattle trails
 The invention of barbed wire in 1874 virtually
closed the open range
 ‘fence cutters’ fought against big ranchers

EXODUSTERS

In 1879 more than
15,000 black farmers
made and ‘Exodus’ from
Mississippi and
Louisiana to find land in
Kansas
EMERGECE OF COMMERCIAL FARMING
In 1870, nearly 80 percent of the nation’s
people lived on farms
 Overwhelmingly rural
 In 1900, there were 5.7 million farms in the US

IN CALIFORNIA
Vaqueros (Hispanic cowboys) became migrant
workers on land their families had once owned
 Blizzards and drought decimated herds and by
late 1880s, the heyday of cattle ranching
ended

VAQUERO

California’s Mexican
cowboys
HENRY MILLER AND CHARLES LUX
Pioneered investment and corporate structures
for the business of agriculture
 Developed foreign markets for cotton and grain
 Industrialized equipment and technique
 Sought control of land and water rights

HENRY MILLER
BIRTH OF AGRIBUSINESS
“Cattle Kingdom” from Texas to Wyoming
revolutionized by barbed wire
 ‘fence cutters’ battled for free range
 Cowboys were wage laborers

OKLAHOMA LAND RUSH

Opening of Oklahoma
territory brought as
many as 10,000
settlers in one day
SURVEY CREW
LAND OFFICE
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