EXPANSION TO THE WEST
Seven Years War 1783
Acquisition of territories of New France west to the Mississippi River
Louisiana Purchase 1803
Jefferson bought the territory from Napoleon for $15 million
Florida 1821 (Adam's Onis Treaty)
In 1818, Britain and the U.S. agreed to "joint occupation" of Oregon, allowing citizens of both countries to settle there.
The Oregon Treaty of 1846 ended joint occupation and established the British-American boundary at the 49th parallel.
Mexican American War 1846-1848
U.S. acquired California, Utah Territory and New Mexico Territory.
Gadsden Purchase 1853
Bought from Mexico for $10 million
Alaska 1867 ("Seward's Folly")
Sec. of State William Seward bought Alaska from Russia for $7 million.
Acquired after the Spanish-American War
Idea that the US was destined by God to expand and spread democracy and capitalism across North America
Slogan of journalist John O'Sullivan
Written 1845 when O'Sullivan was writing about Texas annexation and boundary dispute with England over Oregon territory
Whigs and others opposed the concept believing it was just a code for spreading slavery
Proponents wanted to spread to Mexico and Canada and beyond
Popularized again in 1890s, the era of the Spanish-American War.
Santa Fe Trail
Pacific Railroad Act 1862
Chartered Central Pacific and Union Pacific Railroad Companies
To build a transcontinental railroad
Connecting Sacramento, California to Omaha Nebraska.
They met at Promontory, Utah, May 10, 1869 (the "golden spike")
Wanted to settle people on farms in the West
Song "Uncle Sam's Farm" (1860)
"Come west and settle and labor on Free Soil"
Homestead Act 1862
Settlers could buy land for $1.25 an acre or:
Federal government offered 160 acres of land
To anyone who would cultivate the land, build a home and live there for five years
(that is, "homestead" it)
Best parcels of land were near railroad lines.
Owned by railroads themselves or speculators who sold it for $25 an acre.
Morrill Land Grant Act 1862
Created by the federal Department of Agricutlure
Set aside 140 million federal acres that states could sell to raise money for public universies
Goal of the land-grant colleges
to broaden education opporutniteis
and foster technical and scientific expertise.
Government also funded geological surveys.
Boomers and Sooners
1889 Boomers came to claim 2 million acres of Indian territory
Just opened because of Dawes Severalty Act of 1887
New settlers had to wait until noon April 22, 1889 to claim the land
Hid in gullies and thickets ready to leap out right after noon to claim their stake.
Great Plains farming and ranching was the main form of employment.
Great Plains was very dry
William Gilpin, Missouri politician
Wrote that "rain follows the plow"
Myth that plowing the fields in dry lands would release moisture into the air that turned into rain.
Myth sustained by wet cycle from 1878 to 1880
John Wesley Powell
Warned that small homestead farms in the West could not support a family (white or Indian) unless farms were irrigated.
And that government should regulate the distribution of water
Said the problem in the West was lack of water
Life was lonely
Mail (bringing mail-order catalogs) made it easier to communicate with East.
160 acres in the very dry land in the West wasn't enough to be profitable
Except for bonanza farms.
Competition from abroad.
Because of hard soil, farmers needed steel-tipped plow and spring-toothed harrows to turn over sun-baked prairie soil.
Left a blanket of dust on top to reduce evaporation.
Had to pay for expensive materials and fences
Threshers, combines, harvesters, steam tractors
Average farmer spent $1,200
Had to erect fences if they were near ranchers.
Large-scale commercial agricultural farms that could afford irrigation
Most common in wheat lands of northern plains.
Used steam tractors that could plow and harvest 50 acres a day - 20x more than a single person without machinery.
Hired up to 250 laborers to work 10,000 acres in return for room, board and 50 cents a day
Many westerners couldn't compete and worked as tenant farmers
One of 1st general migrations of blacks after the Civil War.
Black people left the South
To settle in Kansas, Oklahoma and Colorado.
They were lured
By papers like The Colored Citizen, a newspaper in Topeka
And Benj "Old Pap" Singleton
a former slave who had escaped to the north.
Singleton recruited 1000s of freed slaves to Kansas
Name "Exodusters" came from the Biblical Exodus of Hebrews from Egypt
1867: Nebraska and Colorado
1889: North and South Dakota, Washington, Montana
1890: Wyoming and Idaho
1912: New Mexico and Arizona
TURNER FRONTIER THESIS
1890 Frederick Jackson Turner declared that the American frontier was gone
He said the frontier was significant because:
It shaped the American character
It defined the American spirit
It fostered democracy
It provided a safety valve for economic problems in industrial centers by providing a place for people to flee.
Bison (American buffalo)
After the Civil War there were still many bison
But over hunting and introduction of European animal diseases (like brucellosis) were thining the herds.
Railroad companies paid people (ex."Buffalo Bill" to kill bison).
At first treaties were made with the Indians.
Typically least desirable land
Indians were forced to move there and be wards of the state.
Reservation system failed:
Land was inferior
Incompatible tribes were groups together
Westerners ignored the arrangements and poached on reservation lands.
Sand Creek Massacre (1864)
Chief Black Kettle was told by American officers
That the Cheyenne would be safe from U.S. troops if they camped at Sand Creek
The Indian men were sent on a buffalo hunt.
Colonel John Chivington ordered Colorado militia to charge Sand Creek Camp, killing 200 Native Americans, mostly women and children.
Fetterman Massacre (1866)
Captain William Fetterman fell into a trap by Sioux war chief, Red Cloud
All 80 soldiers were killed.
Custer's Last Stand, Battle of Little Big Horn (1867)
Sioux and Cheyenne, led by Sitting Bull and war chief Crazy Horse
Understood they could only win a war if they suckered troops (like Red Cloud)
Colonel George Armstrong Custer fell into a trap
Every soldier and scout (including Custer) was killed.
Custer was considered a hero to Americans
Helen Hunt Jackson
Wrote A Century of Dishonor (1881)
detailing the injustices of hte reervation system
Inspired reformers to push for change
1887 Dawes Severalty Act
Broke up reservations
Distributed some of the land to Native American families (160 acres to the head of the household)
If the families lived on the land for 25 years, the land would legally be theirs and they could become citizens
Most Indians weren't familiar with farming
Many Native Americans sold their land to speculators, leaving them homeless with not tribes to return to.
Ghost Dance Movement 1889
Inspired by the visions of the prophet Wovoka.
Wovoka promised that with the proper cermeonies, the great Spirit would
Bring back all the buffalo
Bring back the Indians who were killed by white people
And make the White people disappear.
Found in California 1849 (Gold Rush)
Found in Colorado Rockies (Nevada)
Black Hills (South Dakota)
Boom towns rose up overnight
With prospectors, saloons, prostitutes, traders etc.
Found in Nevada (Comstock Lode) in 1859
When gold and silver was exhausted, people left the cities as ghost towns.
General Mining Act 1872
Allowed those who discovered minerals on federally owned land to work the claim and keep al the proceeds.
$5 per acre fee for filing a claim.
Removal of bison opened opportunities for cattle ranchers.
Began in Texas and California
Largely by Spanish Tejanos and Californios
Americans in Texas adopted methods
Use of mustangs and broncos (horses that managed cattle)
Branding iron for making herds
Corral for holding cattle
Riata, or lariat, for roping
Mexican chaps, spurs and broad-brimmed sombreros for shade.
By end of Civil War
5 million longhorn cattle grazed on ranches in South Texas
In 1865, the Missouri Pacific Railroad reached Sedalia, Missouri
Far enough west to be accessible to Texas
A longhorn worth $3 in Texas might get $40 at Sedalia
Profits = 25-40% a year.
Ranchers hired cowboys to herd cattle 100s of miles to new rail lines
First long drive 1866
Reached peak from 1880-1885
Drive lasted 2 to 3 months, sometimes more than 1000 miles.
To Sedalia, Missouri
And the Chisholm Trail from San Antonio to Abilene and Ellsworth, Kansas.
Western route to Dodge City, Denver, Cheyenne
Rail lines soon extended to Kansas
At Abilene and Dodge City, Kansas, ranchers sold their longhorns (the cowboys to saloons)
The cowtowns became the symbols of the Wild West
1/3 were African American freedmen and Latinos (Mexican vaqueros)
Rest were Anglo Confederate veterans (caused rivalries)
Worked long hours for low pay.
By 1880s 7.5 million cattle were overgrazing on the plain's native grasses
Okay as long as weather was good
1886 blizzards and cold followed by summer drought
Caused the cattle boom to collapse
End of Long Drive
Railroads reached Texas
Invention of the barbed wire by Joseph Glidden in 1874
Enabled ranchers and farmers (called "nesters" by cowboys) to fence in large areas cheaply where wood was scarce.
Some breeders fenced in their heavier cattle to stop them from mixing with inferior cattle.
Caused "range wars" over grazing and water rights (farms usually won)
Decline of cattle profits
Rivalry between cattle ranchers and sheep herders ("woolies")
Sheep grazed grasses so short that they ruined and for cattle grazing.
Overproduction of cattle herds
Competition from Canadian and Argentinian beef (which lowered the price)
Nutritious grasses were eaten to the nub then replaced by unpalatable species.
Drought in 1880s and 1890s
Cold winters 1886 and 1887
Diseases such as "Texas fever" wiped out entire herds
Only the largest companies (like King Ranch of Texas) survived
Cowboys became wage laborers.
Slaughterhouse cities like Chicago
Turned cattle into beef.
PROTECTING NATURAL RESOURCES
U.S. Fish Commission 1871
To study, and preserve wild fisheries
Today part of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (part of Department of the Interior)
In 1892 Muir created the Sierra Club which was devoted to conservation in the U.S
Furthered environmental preservation in the West through the National Parks system.