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Western Expansion

by: Carina Sauter

Western Expansion HIST 2112

Carina Sauter
GPA 3.79

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About this Document

These notes cover Dr. Rohrer's lecture in which she discusses American Western Expansion and its effects on the land distribution and Native Americans.
American History Since 1865
Dr. Rohrer
Class Notes
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This 4 page Class Notes was uploaded by Carina Sauter on Friday January 22, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to HIST 2112 at University of Georgia taught by Dr. Rohrer in Spring 2016. Since its upload, it has received 7 views. For similar materials see American History Since 1865 in History at University of Georgia.


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Date Created: 01/22/16
“GO WEST, YOUNG MAN”: WESTERN EXPANSION AND ITS DOWNSIDES I. Heading West – Why? • Moving west from the 1860’s-1890’s (same time as reconstruction) • What is the West? o Changes over time § Revolutionary War: West VA, PA, Athens, etc. § Now: the great plains to the pacific coast • Dakotas, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas to California • Cheap bountiful land o Homestead Act legislation (1862 – before civil war ended) § Marks a time in history that the federal government plays important role § Provided any adult citizen or intended citizen the ability to claim 160 acres of government land • Land from Louisiana purchase bought from French § Encourages movement § Federal government split land to “quarter sections” § Majority of states included in act except Texas and east coast § Those who took land had to improve and cultivate lot • Disallows people from taking advantage of land and sitting on it § After 5 years, you own the land after paying small government fee § Great opportunity for average Americans • American dream: those who never owned land wanted to be self-sufficient and independent farmers § Hundreds of thousands of Europeans wanted to claim and live the American dream § African Americans had same dream § Major diversity in the West • West was the most ethnically, culturally and religiously diverse area • 1880: most diverse state was North Dakota § tough experiences • water management • lightening fires • more extreme weather – bitter cold winters and hot/dry summers • “soddie” houses: sod (dirt) houses full of bug • Business Opportunities o Land: lumberman, cattle, railroads o “Corporate West” o tools and supplies produced for homesteaders § hardware, lumber and general stores § wire, plows, lumber, clothes, hammers, nails, screws o store owners charged high prices because there were so few stores § high interest rates o saloons and whore houses o huge businesses § real estate speculation (land flipping) § mining • started before homestead • 1849: first rush – California Gold Rush • 1850’s-1860’s: hue deposits found throughout the west – gold and silver • boom towns o gold, silver, zinc, copper, lead • Ranching o Very important to Western economy o Raise and sell cattle o Texas dominated – Texan Longhorns o Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma to California o Big demand for beef in east § More then than now o Cheap and plentiful § 136 pounds / year / person (poor) VS. >200 pounds / year / person o Cowboys – some African American, mostly white § Push cattle from Texas hundreds of miles West § Cattle then shipped on trains to major cities • Butchered • Transported east • Refrigerated rail cars took place of cowboys § Occasional cowgirl § Western settlers were more likely to challenge gender roles • Less industrialized and more isolated • Yet granted voting rights to women earlier because they played a key role in moving to the west • “Manifest Destiny” o belief that the US was destined by God to expand from the Atlantic to Pacific o 1840’s magazine – spread continent o it is our God given right to completely settle the West – would impede progress if not • Escape and Freedom o Exodusters § 10’s of thothands of African Americans moved to plains in last 30 years of 19 century § Kansas/ present day Oklahoma was their main destination § Peaked in 1879 § At least 6000 settled in Kansas § African American immigrants felt they were filling biblical prophecy • Exodus year § Plains did not have good conditions for farming/ poor climate § Late 1800’s – returned to Southern states § Learned how to fertilize II. The “PROBLEM” of the Native Americans – to eradicate or to assimilate • “Eradication School” – “The Only Good Indian is a Dead Indian” o more extreme and inhumane o viewed them as lazy and thieves o men were sexual predators to white women o highly racist – wanted to wipe out those who did not comply with government o Indian Wars (1860’s-1890’s) § Sand Creek Massacre (Colorado) § Fetterman Massacre (Wyoming) § Battle of Little Big Horn (Montana) – US surrendered § Many lost bottles, but the Indians could not keep up o Thought the west would be Godlier without Indians • “Assimilation School” – “Kill the Indian, but Save the Man!” o more humane/progressive way to address problem o thought eradication would lead to extinction o locate Native Americans on reservations and convert them to Christians o American individualism o Assimilation policies § Discard and shed sociocultural identities § Began in late 1860’s § Thought they were superior to the eradication group § Thought Native Americans would enjoy life as Americans o Education § Day schools and boarding schools for Native American children across the country § Helps to become proper Christians and citizens § 150 day schools by 1900 § Carlisle Indian School § “Cultural Genocide” – Kill the Indian and Save the Man § Cut hair, new clothes, gain new beliefs o Reservations § Tool of assimilation § Native Americans forced to assimilate • Had to take out individual farm land • Owning land is a new idea to Indians • Learn English and convert to Christianity • Adopt rules keeping with white men • Most land went to Europeans • Quick fix until they were fully assimilated to society o Dawes Act (1887) • President breaks up tribal land to give to individual allotments to families (160 acres) and transform to farms and ranches • Disastrous • Many Native Americans did not engage in farming before Dawes Act o Hunter and gatherers o Farming was woman’s role of family – de- masculinize men • Pre-civil war: Indians had 130 million acres; post-civil war 40 million acres III. Failures of Assimilation and the Dawes Act • Americans thought this would benefit both Native Americans and Americans o Stripped Native Americans of land and identity • Lack of compatibility with Native American lifestyles and conceptions of gender • Best lands always fall in the hands of whites IV. Native Americans and their “Last” Stand • Ghost Dance o Hopeful means to appease spirit based on Buffalo Dance o Used this idea to help with the American settlers § Bring back dead Indians, buffalo herds § Disaster to all white people in West § Last act of resistance of Native Americans o End of Wild West V. Frederick Jackson Turner Thesis • Harvard history professor • Frontier was defining of America • Celebrated individualism and masculinity • Opportunity and democracy • Physical space = less likely for men to fight for resources th • Huge splash at end of 19 century o “The Turner Thesis” § early 1890’s – Frontier had closed § all land in US has been claimed and no pockets of territory were available § how would American history continue • less defined by pioneering families o take on new image – urbanization and industrialization


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