Western Dbq

Topics: Natural environment, Cowboy, Rail transport Pages: 3 (991 words) Published: October 21, 2010
Just got this back with a favorable grade (98) and felt it may be nice to share. We actually had a while to do this, so it's generally much more polished than a timed essay would be, but with my procrastination and general unwillingness to edit there are still a few uncomfortable sentences and a rather hasty conclusion.

1992 DBQ - To what extent did the natural environment shape the development of the West beyond the Mississippi and the lives of those who lived there? How important were other factors?

Despite having gained an early reputation as a barren desert, the Great West quickly became the dominant target behind the expansionist campaigns of the United States during the 18th century. Swarms of frontiersmen travelled to the West, fueled by a multitude of prospective opportunities. Although artificial factors such as ideological motivations and railroads played an undeniably crucial role in shaping the West, their influence came about only as the result of the inherent economic potential of the region–through its natural resources such as gold and soil–which, along with the incredibly diverse climate, unarguably dwarfed all else in determining the trend of development in the West.

Just as it had been the old image of the desolate West which had repelled earlier would-be migrants, it was the new image of the fertile West which brought settlers into the region. The discovery of rich soil, grass, and minerals in the West led thousands of farmers, ranchers, and miners to settle there. The livelihood of these people depended almost entirely on the natural environment of the region, around which they were forced to shape their way of life. For example, the presence of desert between habitable lands created a largely unbalanced spread of population throughout the West (Doc. A). On favorable grounds such as San Antonio or San Francisco, dense concentrations of people would emerge in isolation, surrounded by nothing (Doc. D). Consequently, travelling to...
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