The Outlaws of the Old West

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Amanda Dees
U.S History since 1876

Outlaws of the Old West

The wild west was one of America's most violent times.The American Wild West is a period of history rife with tales of vicious gunfights and battles between lawmen and outlaws. It is the story of exploration and forging a new way of life. Men, women and children left their homes in the East and headed West looking for land and riches. While Hollywood has tended to portray this historical era as one of harshness and violence, scholars have suggested recently that much of the violence in the Old West was more myth than fact. While violence might not have been commonplace, it definitely happened, sometimes explosively. From the gunfight at the O.K. Corral to one-on-one gunslinger showdowns, history reveals that this was a dangerous time.

Remember the Alamo would become a battle cry in Texas, one that would ring out long after the events of the Alamo had passed. The Alamo had been used as a mission by the Spanish, but Mexican rebel forces eventually took it over and made it a military compound until 1835, when Texas revolutionaries drove out the Mexican troops. Americans would hold the Alamo for only one year. In 1836, General Antonio López de Santa Ana cornered the Texas revolutionaries in the Alamo. The revolutionaries held off an entire army for 13 days, but eventually, supplies ran low and the revolutionaries were overrun. The battle was intense, and it came to symbolize struggles against impossible odds.

In 1846, the 23 wagon Donner party consisting of 27 men, 17 women and 43 children including the Donner family left Springfield, Ill., for a fresh start in California. The journey would prove to be tragic. They became trapped in the Sierra Nevada Mountain range in October, low on supplies with winter quickly approaching. A blizzard trapped them in a pass where most of the party would ultimately remain until after December. Several rescue parties were sent out, and those in the Donner party...
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