Western Frontier Powerpoint

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Mining is Big
Business
•
Although the Gold Rush was ending
in California, news of other gold
mines sprang in other places
•
Pikes Peak was located in the
Colorado Rockies and newspapers
claimed that miners were given $20 a
day panning for gold
•
This was more than what servants
made ($1/day)
Mining is Big Business

However most of the gold was deep in underground lodes –
rich streaks of ore sandwiched between layers of rock (ore)

Mining the ore and then extracting the gold required
expensive machinery, a lot of workers, and even an
organized business

Gold and silver mining attracted foreign investors as well
such as the British who invested heavily in the industry
The Comstock Lode

This was the discover of a rich lode of silver-bearing ore on
the banks of the Carson River in Colorado, but named after
the investor

Mining companies immediately set up shop there and
reaped the benefits

When Henry Comstock sold his share, he made $11,000
from it

But this was only a fraction of the hundreds of millions of
dollars worth of gold and silver pulled from the lode
The Mining
Frontier
•
•
•
•
•
•
Boomtowns – were towns that grew
up almost overnight around mining
sites
They were lively & lawless with
people from all over
Money came and went quickly
because of lavish lifestyles
Food, lodging, clothing and other
goods cost a lot
Violence was common where people
carried large amounts of cash &
guns; there was little police
Vigilantes – were citizens who
sometimes took the law into their
own hands
Women in Boomtowns

Men definitely outnumbered women

However some women worked as laundresses, cooks, or
dance-hall entertainers

They founded schools and churches

They also worked to make the communities safer and more
orderly
Boom & Bust
•
“booms” were followed by “busts”
•
When the mines no longer had ore,
people left.
•
They eventually turned into ghost
towns – deserted as prospectors
moved on to more promising sites or
returned home
•
Some of these ghost towns still exist
today as reminders of the glory days
of the mining frontier
New States Enter the Union

Many people who went to these towns settled there
permanently

With the increase in population these areas eventually
became states

1876: Colorado joins the US

1889: North Dakota, South Dakota, Washington, and
Montana join the US

1890: Wyoming and Idaho join the US
Railroads

Mines operated far from the industrial centers of the East &
Midwest

Because of this, transportation played a vital role in survival
of the mining communities

The nation’s railroad network expanded rapidly since
people needed shipments of food and other supplies

Also to reach out to factories, ports, and markets to sell their
gold/silver
Government & the Railroad

Government subsidies helped support railroad construction

These were financial aid and land grants

The federal government granted more than 130 million acres
of land to the railroad companies

Much of it was purchased or obtained by treaties from NA
Spanning the Continent

A search began for a transcontinental rail line – one that
would span the continent and connect the Atlantic with the
Pacific coasts

Southerners wanted this line to run through the south, while
northerners wanted it in the north; the north was chosen

The challenge was to lay 1,700 miles of of track across hot
plains and through rugged mountains

2 companies took on the challenge
Transcontinental Railway

May 10, 1869: construction was completed

A Chinese crew was chosen to lay the final ten miles of
track, complete in 12 hours

Both sets of track met at Promontory Point in Utah

Leland Stanford (gov. of California) drove a final golden
spike into a tie to join the two railroads
Effects of the Railroads

1883: 2 more transcontinental lines and dozes of shorter
lines connected cities in the West with the rest of the nation

They brought thousands of workers to the west, carried
metals and produce to the east, manufactured goods to the
west

The demand for steel boosted the nation’s steel industry as
did the production of coal, manufacturers of railroad cars,
and construction of the tracks
Cattle on the
Plains
•
The Spanish brought over a breed
of cattle with them when they
settled Mexico & Texas
•
These cattle were called longhorn
because of their prominent horns
•
Much of Texas was an open range
– not fenced or divided into lots
•
Ranchers had to brand – burn a
symbol – onto their cattle to
distinguish them
The Long Drive

This was the herding of cattle 1,000 miles or more to meet
the railroads

These drives left Texas in the spring, where there was
enough grass along the way to feed the cattle

It was important to keep the cattle well fed so they could be
sold

The Chisholm Trail was a famous drive from central Texas
to Kansas

The Goodnight-Loving Trail headed west through NM and
then turned north
Life on the Trail

Cowhands – those who herded/handled the cattle

They had a difficult job because they had to ride up to 15
hours a day on the saddle in the rain, dust storms, and
blazing sun

It was also very lonely since these cowhands saw few
outsiders
Spanish
Influence
•
Other than Confederate veterans &
African Americans, Hispanics also
made up the cowhand population
•
They had a tradition of cattle
herding; they were called
vaqueros
•
They developed many skills –
riding, roping, and branding
•
Some Spanish words have made
their way into the English
dictionary from these cowhands
•
Words such as rancho which means
ranch
Cowhand
Equipment
•
It was based on the vaquero
equipment
•
They wore wide-brimmed hats to
protect themselves from the sun
•
They also wore chaps – leather
leggings – to shield themselves
from brush and mishaps with
cattle
•
They used lariats – ropes to lasso
cattle that strayed from the herd
Trouble on the
Trail
•
•
•
•
•
Cowhands faced violent storms
along the way, as well as “rustlers”
who tried to steal their cattle
Sometimes their cattle would get
lost along the rivers
The greatest danger, however,
were stampedes – when thousands
of cattle ran in panic
Any sound could set off the cattle
(thunder, or crack of gunshot)
Cowhands had to race on
horseback with the stampeding
cattle and bring them under
control
The Wild West

After tiresome weeks on the trail, the cowhands enjoyed
some time off to rest

They drank and gambled

They got involved in fistfights and gunplay

Some towns were rowdy, lawless, and often violent such as
Dodge City and Abilene
Farmers Settle the Plains

The people who arrived in the Great Plains believed they
could not farm the dry, treeless area

However they soon turned the area from a “wilderness” to
farmland

The railroads made the journey west easier & cheaper

New laws offered free land

Above-average rainfall made the Plains better suited to
farming
Homestead Act

1862: Congress passed the Homestead Act

This gave 160 free acres of land to a settler who paid a filing
fee and lived on the land for five years

This brought a lot of farmers to homestead – earn
ownership of land by settling on it
Promoting the Plains

Homesteaders came to own land and be independent

They were swayed by advertising paid for by:




Railroads
Steamship companies
Land speculators
Western states and territories
African American Settlers

Thousands of African Americans migrated from the
southern states into Kansas

They were called exodusters – from the biblical book of
Exodus, which describes the Jews’ escape from slavery

A.A also feared for their safety in former slave regions

By 1881: more than 40,000 A.A had migrated to Kansas but
some had to return because they lacked the money to start
new farms or businesses
The Farmers’ Frontier

The climate presented a great challenge for farmers

There was little rainfall but in some years the rain came
down in large numbers – destroying crops & flooding areas

On the other extreme, drought threatened crops and lives

Fire was another challenge because brushfires swept rapidly
though a region, destroying crops, livestock, and homes
The Farmers’ Frontier

Summer brought grasshoppers and other insects who would
land on a field of corn

When they left, not a single stalk of corn would remain

Winters brought winds which howled across the open
Plains

Snow could bury the animals and trap families in their
homes

People always had to plan ahead and store food for the
winter
Farm Families

Men labored hard in the fields

Women did the same work but also cared for children

A wife sewed clothing, made candles, and cooked and preserved
food

She also tended to the children’s health and education

When the husband was away she would take his responsibilities

Children worked on the farm when they got older and helped in
the fields, tended animals, and did chores around the house
New Farming Method

Since the Plains could not be farmed by the usual methods,
they had to find other ways of farming

Plain farmers were known as sodbusters

One of their methods was dry farming which was to plant
seeds deep in the ground where there was some moisture

Some of the tools they had were the light-weight steel lows

Windmills helped to pump water from deep in the ground

Barbed Wire were wire fences used to protect their land
Oklahoma Land Rush

This was the last part of the Plains to be settled

However after years of pressure from land dealers and
settlers’ groups, the federal government finally opened
Oklahoma to homesteaders

April 22, 1889: was the official opening day of the territory
and at the sound of a bugle, the homesteaders charged
across the border to stake their claims
Oklahoma Land Rush

These eager boomers – the homesteaders waiting to claim
land – discovered that some settlers had already slipped into
Oklahoma

Sooners were the ones who had “snuck” in and already
claimed most of the best land
Closing the Frontier

1890: the government announced that the frontier no longer
existed

Settlement had changed the Plains dramatically

No one felt these changes more harshly than the Native
Americans who had live on the Plains for centuries
Following the
Buffalo
•
The Plains was home to Native
American for centuries
•
Some lived in communities as
farmers and hunters, while others
were nomadic – moving from
place to place
•
They traveled in search for food
and followed the buffalo
•
They were divided into groups of
up to 500 people each with a
governing council
•
The women reared the children,
cooked, and prepared hides while
men hunted, traded, and
supervised the military life
Threats to the
Buffalo
•
The Natives had millions of
buffalo at their disposal but after
the Civil War, American hunters
slaughtered the animals to feed the
crew building the railroads
•
Railroad companies also wanted to
prevent huge herds of buffalo from
blocking the trains
•
William Cody had claimed to have
killed 4,000 buffalo in 19 months
and earned the nickname Buffalo
Bill
Conflict

In the beginning white settlers regarded the Plains as the
“Great American Desert”

Because of this, they left Native Americans alone

When the whites began to settle, the situation changed and
proposed new Indian policies
Reservation
Policy
•
1867: the government appointed
the Indian Peace Commission to
deal with the NA
•
The Commission proposed to
move the NA to a few large
reservations – tracts of land set
aside for them
•
Some of the reservations were in
Oklahoma & the Dakota Territory
How to Relocate NA

Agents used trickery to persuade NA to move

These reservation lands were located on poor lands and the
government failed to deliver their promised food and
supplies to the Natives

Whatever was delivered was in poor quality

Many Natives agreed to stay on the reservations or be
relocated to other reservations

Some, however, did resist
Conflict on the
Plains – The
Sioux
•
Minnesota Territory was the site of
a bloody confrontation
•
Sioux warriors, who were led by
Red Cloud, burned and looted
white settlers’ homes
•
Hundreds of people died before
troops arrived to put down the
uprising
Conflict on the Plains – The
Lakota

The Lakota were another branch of Native Americans

They fought hard to keep control of their hunting grounds
from the Dakotas to Nebraska
The Fetterman
Massacre
•
•
•
•
•
•
Native American groups staged a
series of attacks
The bloodies occurred on
December 21, 1866 when army
troops were manning a fort on the
Bozeman Trail
A Sioux military leader, Crazy
Horse, acted as a decoy and lured
the troops into a deadly trap
He tricked them into sending a
group of about 80 soldiers
Hundreds of warriors were
waiting in ambush and wiped out
the entire group of soldiers
This is known as the Fetterman
Massacre
Attacking the Miners

Miners who moved out west for gold and silver had their
wagons trains raided and their cattle & horses stolen

These mining camps were no longer safe

Dozens of ranches had been burned and settlers killed

The governor of Colorado ordered the NA to surrender
where he said they would be given food and protection
Black Kettle
•
Several Natives surrendered but
many did not
•
November 1864: Chief Black
Kettle brought several hundred
Cheyenne to negotiate a peace deal
•
They camped at Sand Creek
•
Colonel John Chivington led an
attack on the unsuspecting
Cheyenne
Little Bighorn

This tension arose in the Black Hills of the Dakotas

The government promised “No white person or persons
shall be permitted to settle upon or occupy” or even “to pass
through” these hills

Rumor had it that these hills contained gold

An expedition was led into the hills where it was confirmed
that gold did exist “from the grass roots down”

People swarmed the area
Little Bighorn

The Sioux Natives protested against the trespassers

Sitting Bull was an important leader of the Lakota Sioux
tribe: “I do not want to sell any land. Not even this much” as he
held a pinch of dust

Sitting Bull gathered Sioux & Cheyenne warriors along
Little Bighorn River in present-day Montana

They were joined by Crazy Horse (another Sioux chief) and
his forces
Little Bighorn

The US army responded by rounding up their soldiers, the
Seventh Cavalry, led by Lieutenant Colonel George Custer

Custer divided his regiment and attacked the NA on June 25, 1876
but he underestimated their strength

250 of Custer’s troops vs thousands of Sioux & Cheyenne

Custer & his entire army lost their lives

The NA triumph was short-lived after another army came and
crushed them, sending them to reservations

Many fled to Canada while others agreed to live on reservations
because of starvation & exhaustion
The Apache Wars

This trouble occurred in the southwest

The Chiracahua Apache had already been moved from their
homeland and many of them resented living in reservations

Apache leader, Geronimo, escaped and fled to Mexico with
a small group of followers

During the 1880s he led raids against settlers and the army
in Arizona

After being captured and being sent to the reservations
many times, he continued to escape but finally gave up
A Changing Culture

Contributions to the change of life for Native Americans





Movement of whites onto their land
Slaughter of the buffalo
United States Army attacks
Reservation policy
More change came when reformers wanted to abolish the
reservations and absorb Native Americans into white
American culture
A Changing Culture

Helen Hunt Jackson was a reformer who was horrified by
the massacres of NA and the cruelty of the reservation
system
“It makes little difference . . . where one
opens the record of the history of the Indians;
every paged and every year has its dark stain”
A Changing Culture

1887: Congress introduces the Dawes Act which aimed to
eliminate what Americans regarded as the two weaknesses
of Native American life: the lack of private property & the
nomadic tradition

It also proposed to break up the reservations and to end
identification with a tribal group

Each Native would receive a plot of land in order to
encourage them to become farmers and American citizens

Children would be sent to white-run boarding schools
Wovoka

The Dawes acted changed NA way of life and weakened
their cultural traditions

Therefore the Sioux turned to one a NA prophet named
Wovoka

He claimed that the Sioux could regain their former
greatness if they performed a ritual known as the Ghost
Dance
The Ghost Dance

This dance was a way for the Sioux to express their culture
that was being destroyed

The ritual spread and reservation officials became alarmed
and decided to ban the dance

The officials went to Sitting Bull and arrested him because
they believed he was their chief; they shot him during the
scuffle
Wounded Knee

After Sitting Bull’s death, several hundred Lakota Sioux
fled in fear

They gathered at Wounded Knee in South Dakota

December 29, 1890: the US army went there to collect the
Sioux’s weapons

Suddenly, a pistol shot rang out, the army responded with
fire and more than 200 Sioux and 25 soldiers were killed

This marked the end of armed conflict between whites and
NA; the NA lost their struggle
The Farmers Organize

The supply of crops grew faster than the demand for them
and prices fell steadily

1866: bushel of wheat = $1.45

1880s: bushel of wheat = $0.80

1890s: bushel of wheat = $0.49

Farmers’ expenses for transporting, for seed, and for
equipment remained high
Who is to Blame?

Farmers blamed 3 groups:



The railroad companies who charged farmers more to ship
crops than they charged manufacturers to ship goods
The eastern manufacturers who charged high prices for their
products
Bankers were also a problem because of the high interest on
their loans
The Grange
•
Farmers began to organize and
created a mass political
movement
•
The National Grange was the
first farmers’ organization of this
period and was a network of
local self-help organizations
•
They offered farmers education,
fellowship, and support
•
Library of books on planting and
livestock, social gatherings
•
It tried to encourage economic
self-sufficiency
The Grange

It set up cooperatives which were stores where farmers
bought products from each other

They charged lower prices than regular stores and provided
an outlet for farmers’ crops

The “cash-only” policy was to remove the burden of credit
buying

It also tried to cut farmers’ costs

But they also failed because farmers were always short of
cash and had to borrow money until their next crop was
sold
The Farmers’ Alliance

They sponsored education and cooperative buying and
selling

They proposed a plan in which the federal government
would store farmers’ crops in warehouses and lend money
to the farmers

However regional difference brought the alliances down
and tore them apart
Part of the People

In the 1890 election, the Alliances became active in political
campaigns

Candidates they supported won 6 governorships, 3 seats in
the Senate, and 50 seats in the House of Representatives
Populist Party

February 1890: Alliance members formed the People’s Party
of the USA





Also known as the Populist Party
Their goals were rooted in populism – appeal to the common
people
The government, not private companies, should own the
railroads and telegraph lines
Wanted to replace the country’s gold-based currency with a
flexible currency that based on free silver
Free silver was the unlimited production of silver coins
Populist Party

The reforms they wanted:





Limiting the president and vice president to a single term
Electing senators directly
Introducing the use of secret ballots
Shorter hours for workers
The creation of a national income tax
Populist Gains & Problems

July 1892: Omaha, Nebraska convention

Populist Party - James B. Weaver of Iowa to run for
president

Democrats – Grover Cleveland to run for president

Grover Cleveland won the election

Although they lost they still did well for a 3rd party, made a
strong showing in the state and local elections and had high
hopes for the presidential election of 1896

The only thing they lacked was money and organization
Free Silver

Tension between the north & south plagued the Populist
Party

White southerners could not bring themselves to join forces
with African American Populists

The Democrats also struck a blow to the Populists when
state legislatures placed strict limits on the rights of African
Americans to vote – many who might have supported the
Populists

Their crusade for free silver was dealt a blow by the bankers
who told them that unlimited amounts of new currency
would lead to inflation and ruin the economy
Election of
1896
•
The Democrats chose a new
candidate for president who
supported free silver and other
Populist goals
•
They nominated William
Jennings Bryan who was known
as the Great Commoner because
of his appeal to average
Americans
•
Populists chose to endorse Bryan
as their president and nominated
Tom Watson for VP
•
Republicans – William
McKinley who opposed free
silver
Election of
1896
Bryan was a great speaker but his
campaigning was in vain because by
the time of the election, the economic
depression that had slowed business
was over
Voters believed that good times were
returning and they put their trust in
the Republican party
Even the farmers’ economic situation
was improving so people saw no
urgency in the Populist message
Populist Legacy

They were still victorious in other ways

Reformers adopted many Populist ideas and succeeded in
getting many new laws passed

The US abandoned the gold standard, adopted an 8-hour
workday, and introduced an income tax

Election reforms brought in the secret ballot and direct
election of senators
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