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American West Essay

1182 words - 5 pages

1837 Great Financial Crisis

In 1837 the Eastern USA suffered an economic collapse. Many people lost their jobs, and as Banks went bust they also lost their savings. People were bankrupted and factories and businesses closed.
The Mormons, whose Bank also collapsed ruining many non-believers, became one of the more popular scapegoats for the ruin. This resulted in many Mormons choosing to move West in the face of increasing violence. The increasing population had made land hard to come by.
This combined with the desperation and increasing crime in the East forced people to consider moving West. The Crisis became a big PUSH factor in encouraging people to migrate westward.

1844 ...view middle of the document...

This made travel easier and safer, it also began the idea of limiting the Indians to certain geographically defined areas.

1862 The Homestead Act.

Even by the 1860s the Great Plains were not settled. Regarded as the Desert, White Americans had settled around it in the East and West.
This Homestead Act gave 160 acres of the Great Plains in return for a nominal fee in order to encourage the settlement of the last piece of the USA. The Government was keen to control the whole of the USA, and part of the Manifest Destiny the Plains could not be left to the Indians, it must be settled and organised.
1864 The Massacre of Sand Creek
The Massacre of hundreds of Indian men, women and children who were at Sand Creek, Colorado by Colonel Chivington and local volunteers was a horrific act which became an obstacle to peace between Plains Indians and American settlers. The Massacre was officially sanctioned as the settlers on Cheyenne lands in Colorado were miners, ranchers and importantly Homesteaders who felt threatened by the closeness of the Indians on whose land they were settling.
It was the first of a number of Indian massacres, which revealed the determination of the USA in gaining control over the Plains.
1866 First Cattle Drives Established
After the American Civil War ended in 1865 and ranchers and cattlemen went home they discovered their untended herds of cows had multiplied on an enormous scale.

Goodnight and Loving drove their herds north to markets in Colorado to sell to hungry railroad workers and the US Army.
The cattle industry boomed and cows were transported by rail, and towns grew up along the paths of the cattle drives such as Abilene and Dodge City which grew in wealth.
1868 Second Fort Laramie Treaty
By 1868 the Great Plains were being settled at speed, by Homesteaders, miners and ranchers. This rendered the previous treaty worthless as individuals and Government ignored Indian rights to land awarded them by treaties and laws.
This treaty gave the Black Hills of Dakota to the Sioux Indians ‘forever’. These lands held special religious meaning for the Indians and they were contained in this land. This extended the US Government’s programme of restricting Indians to small pockets of land (reservations) where they were reliant on Government handouts of food and money in order to live.
1869 The completion of the Transcontinental Railroad.
The transcontinental railroad linked the West...

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