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Chapter 16 notes

Mr. Dunn

Chapter 16: The Conquest of the Far West
I Societies of the Far West

A. The Western Tribes

  • Largest and most important population group before the great Anglo-American migration was the Indian tribes

  • Pueblos of the Southwest had long lived largely as farmers and had established permanent settlements

  • Grew corn; built towns and cities of adobe houses; practiced elaborate forms of irrigation; and they participated in trade and commerce

  • Their intimate relationship with the Spanish (later Mexicans) produced, in effect, an alliance against the Apaches, Navajos, and the Comanches of the region

  • Interaction produced an elaborate caste system in the Southwest. Top were the Spanish or Mexicans, Pueblos were below them, Apaches, Navajos, and others were at the bottom

  • Several categories of mulattoes and mestizos (people of mixed race) had a clear place in an elaborate social hierarchy

  • Plains Indians shared traits, cultures were based on close and extended family networks and on an intimate relationship with nature, tribes were subdivided into “bands”

  • Many of the Plains tribes subsisted largely through hunting buffalo. Buffalo, or bison, provided the economic basis for the Plains Indians’ way of life

  • Plains warriors proved to be the most formidable foes white settlers encountered

  • One weakness was the inability of the various tribes to unite against white aggression

  • Smallpox epidemics decimated the Pawnees in Nebraska in the 1840s

B. Hispanic New Mexico

  • There was a small aristocracy of great landowners, whose estates radiated out from the major trading center at Santa Fe

  • In 1847, Taos Indians rebelled; they killed the new governor and other Anglo- American officials before being subdued by the United States Army

  • U.S Army finally broke the power of the Navajo, Apache, and other tribes that had so often harassed the residents of New Mexico

  • Mexican Americans in the region also fought at times to preserve control of their societies

  • Anglo- American presence in the Southwest grew rapidly once the railroads established lines into the region in the 1880s and early 1890s

    • With the railroads came extensive new ranching, farming, and mining

C. Hispanic California and Texas

  • The missions had enormous herds of cattle, horses, sheep, and goats, most of them tended by Indians workers

  • Booming Anglo communities in the North of the state created a large market for the cattle that southern rancheros were raising

  • Combination of reckless expansion, growing indebtedness and a severe drought in the 1860s devastated the Mexican ranching culture

  • the great Anglo- American migration was less catastrophic for the Hispanic population of the West than it was for the Indian tribes, created new opportunities for wealth and station

  • Saw the movement of large numbers of Hispanics into an impoverished working class serving the expanding capitalist economy of the U.S.

D. The Chinese Migration

  • A few Chinese had come to California even before the gold rush, but after 1848 the flow increased dramatically, almost all came as free laborers

  • Very quickly white opinion turned hostile- in part because the Chinese were so industrious and successful that some white Americans began considering them rivals, even threats

  • In 1852, the California legislature began trying to exclude the Chinese from gold mining

  • As mining declined as a source of wealth and jobs for the Chinese, railroad employment grew, Chinese workers formed 90 percent of the labor force of the Central Pacific and were mainly responsible for the construction of the western part of the new road

    • Company preferred them to white workers because they had no experience of labor organization

  • In 1866, 5,000 Chinese railroad workers went on strike demanding higher wages and a shorter workday

    • Company isolated them, surrounded them with the strikebreakers, and starved them into submission

  • In 1869 the transcontinental railroad was completed

  • Increasingly Chinese immigrants flocked to cities

    • By far the largest single Chinese community was in San Francisco, “Chinatowns”

  • Life was hard for most urban Chinese; usually occupied lower rungs of the employment ladder

  • As late as 1880, nearly half the Chinese women in California were prostitutes

E. Anti- Chinese Sentiments

  • Anti- coolie clubs emerged in the 1860s and 1870s. the sought a ban on employing Chinese and organized boycotts of products made with Chinese labor

  • By the mid- 1880s, anti- Chinese agitation and violence had spread up and down the Pacific coast and into other areas of the west

  • In 1882, Congress responded to the political pressure by passing the Chinese Exclusion Act, which banned Chinese immigration into the U.S. for ten years and barred Chinese already in the country from being naturalized citizens

  • Congress renewed the law for another ten years in 1892 and made it permanent in 1902

    • Had a dramatic effect on the Chinese population, which declined by more than 40 percent in the forty years after its passage

F. Migration from the East

  • Scale of the postwar migration dwarfed everything that had preceded it, now they came in millions, spreading throughout the vast western territories

  • Over 2 million between 1870 and 1900- were foreign-born immigrants from Europe

  • Settlers were attracted by gold and silver deposits, cattle and sheep, and ultimately by the sod of the plains and the meadowlands of the mountains of the mountains, which they discovered were suitable for farming and ranching

  • Homestead Act of 1862 permitted settlers to buy plots of 160 acres for a small fee if they occupied the land they purchased for five years and improved it

  • But the Homestead Act rested on a number of misperceptions, beleaguered westerners looked to the government for the solutions to their problems

  • Political organization followed on the heels of settlement; after the admission of Kansas as a state in 1861, the remaining territories of Washington, New Mexico, Utah, and Nebraska were divided into smaller units. By the close of the 1860s, territorial governments were in operation in Nevada, Colorado, Dakota, Arizona, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming

II. The Changing Western Economy

A. Labor in the West

  • The labor shortage of the region led top higher wages for workers than were typical in most areas of the East

  • Limited Social Mobility: advancement was easy and most rapid for those who were economically advantaged to begin with

  • Work force was highly stratified along racial lines; white workers occupied tiers of management and skilled labor. Lower tiers- people who did unskilled and often arduous work in the mines, on the railroads or in agriculture- consisted overwhelmingly of nonwhites

  • An Irish laborer might move up the occupational ladder; Chinese or Mexican worker in the same job had no realistic prospects of doing the same

B. The Arrival of the Miners

  • The first economic boom in the Far West came in mining, and the first area to be extensively settled was the mineral rich region of the mountains and plateaus began in earnest around 1860 and flourished until the 1890s

  • Individual prospectors would exploit the first shallow deposits of ore largely by hand

  • Corporations moved in to engage in lode or quartz mining

  • Then, commercial mining either disappeared or continued on a restricted basis, and ranchers and farmers moved in

  • The first great mineral strikes occurred just before the Civil War. In 1858, gold was discovered in the Pike’s Peak district of Colorado

  • The most valuable ore in the great Comstock Lode and other veins was silver

  • Everything- from food and machinery to whiskey and prostitutes- had to be shipped from California to Virginia, Carson City, and other roaring camp towns

  • The next important mineral discoveries came in 1847, when gold was found in the Black Hills of south- western Dakota territory

  • Mining remained one of the most dangerous and arduous working environments in the U.S.

C. The Cattle Kingdom

  • Railroads gave birth to the range-cattle industry by giving it access to markets

  • Texas had the largest herds of cattle in the country; the animals were descended from imported Spanish stock- hardy longhorns

  • “Long drives” established the first link between the isolated cattle breeders of west Texas and the booming urban markets of the East

  • Between, 1867 and1871, cattlemen drive nearly 1.5 million head up the Chisholm Trail to Abilene

  • Most cowboys in the early years were veterans of the Confederate army

  • Nature intervened with a destructive finishing blow; two sever winters, in 1885-1887, with a searing summer between them, stung and scorched the plains

  • Women won the vote earlier in the West than they did in the rest of the nation for different reasons in different places. Mormons granted women suffrage in an effort to stave off criticism of polygamy

III. The Romance of the West

A. Western Landscape

  • Paintings emphasized the ruggedness and dramatic variety of the region

B. The Cowboy Culture

  • The cowboy had become perhaps the most widely admired hero in America, and a powerful and enduring symbol of the important American ideal of the natural man

C. The Idea of the Frontier

  • Theodore Roosevelt traveled to the Dakota Badlands in the mid- 1880s to help himself recover from the sudden death of his young wife

D. Frederick Jackson Turner

  • Clearest and most influential statements of the romantic vision of the frontier came from the historian Frederick Jackson Turner

  • Turner delivered a memorable paper entitled “The Significance of the Frontier in American History”

    • He argued the end of the “frontier” also marketed the end of one of the most important democratizing forces in American life

  • Turner’s assessments were both inaccurate and premature

    • The West had never been a “frontier” in the sense he meant

    • Turner did express a growing and accurate sense that much of the best farming and grazing land was now taken

IV. The Dispersal of the Tribes

  1. White Tribal Policies

  • The history of relations between the U.S. and the Native Americans was one of nearly endless broken promises

  • Concentration Policy: Treaties often illegitimately negotiated with unauthorized “representatives” chosen by whites

    • Had many benefits for whites and few for the Indians

    • Divided the tribes from one another and made them easier to control

    • allowed the government to force tribes into scattered locations and to take over the most desirable lands

  • Indian Peace Commission was to move all the Plains Indians into two large reservations, one in the Indian Territory (Oklahoma), the other on the Dakotas

  • Compounding the problem was economic warfare by whites: the relentless slaughtering of the buffalo herds that supported the tribes’ way of life

  • Railroad companies hired riflemen (such as Buffalo Bill Cody) to thin the heards, which were obstructions to railroad traffic

  • In 1865, there had been at least 15 million buffalo; a decade later, fewer than a thousand of the great beasts survived

  1. The Indian Wars

  • Sand creek massacre: Black Kettle believed he was under official protection and exhibited no hostile intention

  • Colonel J.M. Chivington led a volunteer military force to the unsuspecting camp and massacred 133 people, 105 of them women and children

    • Black Kettle escaped, but four years later, he and his Cheyennes were caught near the Texas border by Colonel George A. Custer

    • White troops killed the chief and slaughtered his people

  • In California tracking down and killing Indians became for some whites a kind of sport

  • Considerable numbers of whites were committed to the goal of literal “elimination” of the tribes

  • Sioux rose up in 1875 and left their reservation; when white officials ordered them to return, bands of warriors gathered and united under two great leaders: Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull

  • Most famous of all conflicts between whites and Indians-the tribal warriors surprised Custer and 264 members of his regiment surrounded them and killed every man

  • The chiefs had gathered as many as 2,500 warriors, one of the largest Indian armies ever assembled at one time in the United States

  • Indians did not have the political organization or the supplies to keep their troops united the army ran them down singly and returned them to Dakota

  • Both were later killed by reservation police after being tricked or taunted into a last pathetic show of resistance

  • Chief Joseph moved with 200 men and 350 women, children, and elders in an effort to reach Canada and take refuge with the Sioux

  • They were finally caught just short of the Canadian boundary

  • “Here me, my chiefs,” Joseph said, “I am tired. My heart is sick and sad. From where the sun now stands, I will fight no more forever.”

  • The last Indians to maintain organized resistance against the whites were the Chiricahua Apaches

  • Geronimo-unwilling to bow to white pressures to assimilate-fought on for more than a decade

  • Mountains of Arizona and Mexico and leading warriors in intermittent raids against white outposts

  • Geronimo recognized the odds and surrendered, an even that marked the end of formal warfare between Indians and whites

    • Apache wars were the most violent of all the Indians conflicts, perhaps because the tribes were now the most desperate

  • “Ghost Dance,” inspired ecstatic visions that many participants believed were genuinely mystical

    • Among these visions were images of a retreat of white people from the plains and a restoration of the great buffalo herds

  • On December 29, 1890, the Seventh Cavalry tried to round up a group of about 350 cold and starving Sioux at Wounded Knee South Dakota

    • Fighting broke out in which about 50 white soldiers and up to 200 of the Indians died

    • The battle turned into a one-sided massacre the white soldiers turned their new machine guns on the Indians and moved them down in the snow

  1. The Dawes Act

  • The Dawes Act provided for the gradual elimination of tribal ownership of land and the allotment or tracts to individual owners: 160 acres to the head of the family, 40 to each independent child

  • Bureau of Indian Affairs relentlessly promoted the idea of assimilation that lay behind it, took Indian children away from their families and send them to boarding schools run by whites, where they believed the young people could be educated to abandon tribal ways

  • White administration of the program was so corrupt and inept that ultimately the government simply abandoned it

  • Whites successfully settled the American West only at the expense of the region’s indigenous peoples

V. The Rise and Decline of the Western Farmer

A. Farming on the Plains

  • Transcontinental line was a dramatic and monumental achievement; two lines joined at Promontory Point in northern Utah

  • Washington encouraged railroad development by offering direct financial aid, favorable loans, and more than 50 million acres of land. Railroads helped spur agricultural settlement

  • Farming on plains presented special problems; first was fencing, second was water

B. Commercial Agriculture

  • The sturdy independent farmer of popular myth was being replaced by the commercial farmer

  • Commercial farmers specialized in cash crops

  • Modern forms of communication and transportation- the telephone, telegraph, steam navigation, railroads- were creating new markets around the world for agricultural goods.

  • The farm economy as a whole was suffering a significant decline relative to the rest of the nation

  1. The Farmers’ Grievances

  • The farmers’ first and most burning grievance was against the railroads

  • Farmers also resented the institutions controlling credit- banks, loan companies, insurance corporations

  • A third grievance concerned prices- both the prices farmers received for the products and the prices they paid for goods

  1. The Agrarian Malaise

  • Farm families were cut off from the outside world and human companionship

  • The result was this sense of isolation was a growing discontent that would help create a great national political movement in the 1890s

  • Yeoman farmers were becoming painfully aware that their position was declining in relation to the rising urban- industrial society to the east.

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