-Horses and guns allow Native tribes to hunt buffalo more
effectively. Also leads to more arguing with neighboring
tribes and whites.
I. Settlers Push Westward
 Whites claim western land was up for grabs because the
Indians weren’t “improving it” (farms, mines, railroads,
buildings). Whites believe the land is unsettled and begin
pushing west. The Rise of the Boomtown filled with
fortune seekers and the poor.
II. Government Restricts the Native Americans
 US Gov. establishes specific zones designated for Indian
settlement called reservations. If something valuable is
found on a reservation, the US gov. would break their
agreements. OFTEN BROKEN. Indian fights are common
against settlers and miners.
o Army kills 154 Indians at Sand Creek
o Crazy Horse (Sioux) kills 80 soldiers at Fetterman
o Sitting Bull (Sioux) refuses to sign a treaty for a
o Army engages Comanche / Kiowas in Texas. Army is
order to destroy villages, ponies, and hang warriors.
By 1875 Indian resistance is crushed in the SW.
o Prospectors find gold in the Black Hills, Montana.
This area is sacred and a reservation. General
George Custer tries to force the Sioux from this area.
Runs into a Indian force of thousands of warriors
(led by Sitting Bull). Custer and most of his soldiers
are killed at Little Big Horn. Custer’s stand becomes
legend and the public demands that the army hunt
down Sitting Bull. Sitting Bull leads his forces into
Canada to escape. His people are starving. He
surrenders. (“….I will fight no more…”)
III. Assimilation
 Helen Hunt writes a book called A Century of Dishonor –
She discusses all of the broken promises of the white
man to the Indians. Bestseller. USA public finally begins
to show a little sympathy.
 The biggest blow to the Indians was the destruction of
the buffalo.
 Skull – rituals
 Horns – spoons/bowls
 Bones – tools, glue, weapons
 Hide – clothes/TPS
 Meat – Food
In 1800 – 65,000,000 buffalo
In 1890 – 1,000 buffalo
 A holy man spreads the word that if the Sioux performed
a ghost dance, the buffalo would return and their lands
would be restored. Sitting Bull is killed and this really
stirs up the Sioux. They rebel again. The army gives
chase at Wounded Knee. The details are sketchy. 300
Native Americans are killed on 12-28-1890. Wounded
Knee is the signal that the Indian era/threats is over.
IV Cattle Becomes Big Business
 The rise of the beef industry sees the emergence of
vaquero (cowboy). When the railroad reaches the
Midwest, the demand for cowboys booms. The great
cattle drives are usually from Texas to Kansas
City/Chicago (railroads take them east). The cattle routes
are littered with “Cow Towns” (KC)
 The cowboy is usually 14-40 years old. 14 hrs a day in the
saddle. A typical cattle drive will last 3 months. Cowboys
are very underpaid and very dirty. Whiskey, gambling,
and women.
 Cowboys are “romanticized.” Become heroes, legends as
stories, books, and traveling shows become popular.
(Wild Bill, Calamity Jane, Annie Oakley, Buffalo Bill)
V. Western Railroads
 Government gives millions of acres to railroad companies
to build. Race begins between 2 rail companies.
o Central Pacific (West to East)(Workers are
Chinese/Irish immigrants)
o Union Pacific (East to West)(immigrant workers too)
 The competition is build Americans first transcontinental
railroad (coast to coast)
 Companies average about 8 miles a day
 Dangerous: water sources (bridges), tunneling
(dynamite), Indian attacks, and heat exhaustion.
 The companies connect their lines at Promontory Point,
Utah. Big party/celebration, nailing in a golden spike to
mark the occasion. 1869.
 American coasts are now connected by the railroad.
VI Government Support for Settling the West
 Homestead Act – gave settlers 160 acres. 600,000
families move west. Not all of the land is of equal value.
Only 10% of the land was settled as it was intended (Big
farms). High elevation makes poor farming / dry climate.
 To protect the consumption of all free land, the
government creates a National Park System (Yellowstone
National Park in 1872)
 By 1880 the frontier is no longer unique (barren,
unsettled, no maps, water sources, etc). By 1880 it is
hard to tell where the frontier begins or ends because it
is becoming densely settled.
VII: Challenges of Living on the Plains
 Droughts, fires, blizzards, locusts, bandits, and Indians
 Trees are scarce (cabins, firewood) so people would dig
homes out of hillsides/ravines (Soddies). Pests, leaky
 Women worked beside the man. Team Work a must to
 John Deere steel plow and Cyrus McCormick reaper
(collects crops) helps. Good farm equipment doesn’t
emerge until 1900.
 The government passes the Morrill Act of 1862/1890
establish agricultural colleges to teach farming
techniques and research. Today the eastern plains are
America’s breadbasket.
 Farm machinery expensive and farmers go in debt to buy
it. Farmers dependent on fair prices for their crops.
Machines help make more and more supply.
Unfortunately this drops prices.
 Railroad companies create single crop farms called
bonanza farms. As farmers buy more land to grow more
food they get deeper and deeper into debt and they are
one financial disaster away from losing everything.
 Farmer vs. Railroad. Railroad charge high prices to ship
crops to the cities. Farmers have no choice but to pay
ridiculous prices.
VIII. Farmer’s Unite
 Debt (farm equipment and land)
 falling food prices (high supply)
 lack of good land available
 Banks foreclosing on mortgages
 High railroad shipping prices
 Oliver Hudson Kelly starts a farmers organization called
Grange. It teaches farmers to organize, work together,
and pressure government to regulate the railroads (to
keep them from charging high rates). Grange sponsors
the Farmer’s Alliance to help educate farmers about
loans, and government.
IX The Rise and Fall of Populism
 1892 we see the rise of populism – the movement of the
people is founded to give the people a voice in
 Populists wanted an increase in the money supply which
would increase the prices of what they made.
 Income tax on the wealthy
 Federal loans programs to help the poor
 Single terms form president
 Elect senators by popular vote (which is what
we do today)
 8 HR workday
 Restrict immigration
 The Panic of 1893
 Famers in debt
 5 railroads go bankrupt (overbuilding,
competition, and mismanagement)
 Gold supply is dwindling
 Price of silver collapses
 Stock prices fall
 15,000 business and 500 banks collapse
 People hoard, so they don’t spend/invest
 By 1895 4 million people lost their job
 Political parties started to argue the issue of bimetallism
(the government to give either gold/silver in exchange
for paper currency). Gold standard wants the
government to issue paper money based on how much
gold is in the Reserve. Populist valued bilmetallism
because it put precious metals in their hands, as the
value of paper money goes up and down.