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Chapter Summary Us History

By kkumar214 Jul 28, 2013 1164 Words
Chapter Summary
After the Civil War, Americans, who believed expansion was their “manifest destiny,” began moving westward across the continent, subduing the Native Americans through various means, creating a North American empire. BEYOND THE FRONTIER

Prior to the Civil War, the march of White settlement paused at the margin of the semiarid Great Plains, a region seared by hot winds in the summer and buffeted by blizzards and hailstorms in the winter, presenting a temporary obstacle to further migration. CRUSHING THE NATIVE AMERICANS

Because they were seen as an additional obstacle to further White migration, the Native Americans were pushed from their lands and forced to radically change their cultures by the end of the century. Those who did not peacefully acquiesce were beaten into submission. Life of the Plains Indians

After they acquired the Spanish horse, the Plains Indians abandoned their former agricultural lifestyle in favor of a strong, unique culture based upon nomadic hunting of the buffalo. Though the Plains Indians generally existed in tribes of thousands people, they lived in smaller bands of several hundred. Within Plains’ culture, men and women existed in relative egalitarianism as the occupations of both were necessary for group survival. “As Long as Waters Run”: Searching for an Indian Policy

Earlier in the century, the Great Plains, known as the Great American Desert, was considered by the United States government as unusable for Whites and was given to the Native Americans as “one big reservation.” But with the discovery of gold in the West, the federal government began a policy of concentration, restricting tribes to specific, limited reservations. This new policy led to conflicts and violence among Native American groups and with Whites. Final Battles on the Plains

From 1867 to 1890, the federal government fought a number of tribes in brutal military campaigns, eliminating any semblance of resistance and culminating in the Massacre at Wounded Knee. The End of Tribal Life

In the 1870s and 1880s, Congress began a new policy to try to end tribal authority, turn Native Americans into farmers, and “educate” their children to be more like Whites. The Dawes Act of 1887 forced Native Americans to live on individual plots of land and allowed 90 million acres of Indian lands to be sold to White settlers, but the crushing blow to traditional tribal ways resulted from the near extermination of the buffalo by White hunters. By 1900, there were only 250,000 Native Americans counted in the census, down from nearly five million in 1492, and most of them suffered from extreme poverty and the problems associated with it. SETTLEMENT OF THE WEST

In the last three decades of the nineteenth century, Whites, along with some Blacks, Hispanics, and Asians, moved West seeking adventure, or religious freedom, as in the case of the Mormons, and better health and economic opportunity. Men and Women on the Overland Trail

Some one-half million settlers flocked to the West, especially California and Oregon, in the three decades after the Gold Rush of 1849. Traveling the Overland Trail, men and women found the journey both arduous and dangerous. For women in particular, movement to the West meant separation from friends and family, loneliness, and exhaustive work. Land for the Taking

Government policy, beginning with the Homestead Act of 1862, provided free or inexpensive land to individual settlers, land speculators, and private corporations like railroads, all of whom were eager to supply the desire of a growing nation for the products of the West. Railroads became the West’s largest landowners. Often, unscrupulous speculators and companies took advantage of these government land programs. Territorial Government

The new territories of the West related to the federal government much like colonies. The generation that grew up in the territorial West often developed distinctive ideas about politics, government, and the economy. The Spanish-Speaking Southwest

The Spanish-Mexican heritage of the Southwest also influenced Americans in the West and gave a distinctive shape to that area’s politics, language, society, and law. The Bonanza West
Quests for quick profits led to boom-and-bust cycles in the western economy, wasted resources, and uneven growth. The Mining Bonanza
Lured by the prospect of mineral wealth throughout the region, many settlers moved west, building hasty and often short-lived communities that reflected primarily materialistic and exploitative interests. Individual prospectors made the first strikes using a process of place mining. As the placers gave out, corporations moved in to dig the deep shafts, employing many foreign-born miners, who faced hostility and discrimination. Huge strikes like the Comstock Lode added millions of dollars to the economy, but by the 1890s the mining bonanza was over. Gold from the Roots Up: The Cattle Bonanza

Between 1865 and 1885, large profits also were possible for the cattle ranchers who grazed their herds on the prairie grasses and used cowboys, many of whom were Black or Hispanic, to drive them to the railheads. By 1880 more than six million cattle had been driven to northern markets, but the establishment of ranches with barbed wire and the invention of new technologies like the refrigerated railroad car ended the possibility of and need for great drives. Sodbusters on the Plains: The Farming Bonanza

Like the miners and cattlemen, millions of farmers moved onto the Great Plains seeking economic opportunity as well. Known as the Exodusters, many of these settlers were Blacks fleeing oppression in the South. White or Black, Plains farmers encountered enormous hardships, including a lack of accessible water, inadequate lumber for homes and fences, devastatingly hot summer winds, and savage winter storms. New Farming Methods

Several important inventions, innovations, and adaptations made farming on the treeless, semiarid Plains not only possible, but also profitable. Dry farming, new plants, and new machinery were among the innovations that facilitated the rise of huge bonanza farms. Discontent on the Farm

Bad weather, low prices, and rising railroad rates stirred up many farmers’ anger, leading some to form political lobbies and others to adopt more scientific, commercial methods. The Grange and the Farmers’ Alliance were organizations that worked for farmers’ interests and met important social and economic needs. The Final Fling

The Oklahoma land rush of 1889 symbolized the closing of the frontier and in many ways reflected the attitude of Anglo-Americans toward Native Americans and their land. Conclusion: The Meaning of the West

In the 1890s, historian Frederick Jackson Turner theorized that the West and Americans’ settlement of it explained American development, shaping American customs and character, giving rise to the American ideals of independence and self-reliance, all while fostering invention and adaptation. Later historians have challenged Turner’s thesis, pointing out frontier conservatism and imitativeness or the importance of family and community on the frontier as opposed to individualism. “New Western Historians” have rejected Turner’s ideas altogether, producing a complex view of the West in which racial and ethnic diversity and conflict dominate, and White Americans can be said to have conquered rather than settled the West. 

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