The West 1848 -1893 The American Frontier • Prior to the Civil War, thousands had gone west, seeking fame, fortune, and new lives. • After the end of the war, the pace of settlement increased dramatically. “Go West, Young Man” • Why did people go West? Why would people want to migrate West? Gold!! • Gold and silver discoveries send many west. • First major Western Gold find was in California in 1848. – 80,000 Forty-niners came to California, few became rich. • Comstock Lode in Nevada – Gold and silver discovered in 1859. • Pike’s Peak – Gold discovery brought 100,000 into Colorado. Mining • First pan-handlers sifted for gold in streams. • Big strikes led to the formation of Boomtowns. • Most boomtowns disappear when the gold ran out. • A few towns survive to become large cities: – San Francisco, Denver, Sacramento. Who Made Money? • Many miners arrived too late to find gold • The people who made money were those who recognized how to supply goods and services to the miners. • Levi Strauss – Opened General Store in San Francisco – Rec’d patent for Jeans with rivets Miners • People of all classes, races, and genders come West to mine. • Most were single white men, but there were AfricanAmerican miners. • 1/3 of all Western miners were Chinese. “The Most Rapid and Effective Americanization” • On the frontier, immigrants were refashioned into new people, no longer, English or German or Irish or Swedish but American Cattle Ranching • Beef was in high demand after the Civil War as cities grew. • Easy to enter Cattle Ranching as range/feed was free. • Growth of railroads made it possible to get western beef to eastern markets. Longhorns on the Range • As with mining, cattletowns develop near railheads to handle cattle drives. • Time of the cowboy and the open West. – The setting for much of the Hollywood West. Cowboys from Texas herded the cattle to the stocking yards of Abilene, Dodge City, Cheyenne Large meat companies like the Swifts and Armours needed the cattle in the meat-packing plants of Chicago before shipping the meat to the East Coast markets Men like Wild Bill Hickok and Wyatt Earp were hired to keep law and order in the rising towns of the West. End of the Range • Cattle drives end in the late 1880s. • Overgrazing, a severe drought, and a harsh winter decimated cattle herds. • Joseph Glidden’s invention, barbed-wire, enabled farmers to fence off their land and ended the open ranges needed to feed cattle. The Range Wars Sheep Herders Cattle Ranchers • Lincoln County Wars • Billy the Kid joins “The Regulators” to bring murderers to justice • Billy would be hunted down by bounty hunters, the military and law men Colt .45 Revolver God didn’t make men equal. Colonel Colt did! Farming • Hundred of thousands move West to become farmers. • The 1862 Homestead Act gave 160 acres of land to anyone who would work the land for 5 years – for free! • The 1862 Morrill Act gave states western land to sell to fund new colleges— increased educational opportunities and provided cheap land for settlers. Sodbusters “The Rain will Follow the Plow” • Farming on the Great Plains was not easy. • Sod was thick and hard to plow the first time. • Few trees, little wood for buildings, so many built their houses from sod. What foreign policy action granted the United States the land within the Great Plains? Great Plains Farming • Environmental factors made it difficult to farm the Great Plains: – Little rainfall – Many crops not suited to the conditions • Not until farmers adopted dry farming or irrigation did Great Plains farmers really succeed. Farming Becomes Mechanized • McCormick invents the mechanical reaper • John Deere invents the steel plow Russian Immigrants Save the Great Plains! • Russian Mennonite immigrants from the Steppe region of Russia bring wheat seeds with them • This particular wheat grows well in the plains region • Region becomes the “Bread Basket” Frederick Jackson Turner • A historian whose 1893 Frontier Thesis claimed that the West had been completely settled. • Used US Census data to back his the argument in his essay. • While many continued to move West, the frontier was considered closed. Americans would have to look for new frontiers to conquer.