: : : : Just a note, I wrote this my Junior Year in high school, so don’t expect anything amazing. Please feel free to use, edit, tweak in any way you want. Just make sure you document: D: : : : The United States of America is a perfect name for the country. It is after all many states united.
But to have states you must have land for those states. Before those stats become land they must be a frontier, or as defined by Webster’s Dictionary, “A region that forms the margin of settled or developed territory.” The United States has had a frontier of endless land, which has been settled throughout many years. The Frederick Jackson Turner thesis on the frontier states: Up to our own day American history has been in a large degree the history of the colonization of the Great West. The existence of an area of free land, its continuous recession, and the advance of American settlement westward explain American development. Expansion of the United States can be traced from the first of those who settled in Jamestown. It all began with a simple idea, a faster route to India.
Yet instead of going around Africa someone proposed to just sail west. Yet when these people sailed west they had not reached India. They found North America. They had made the first frontier of America, the colonial frontier. Other groups came to this vast land with its seeming endless frontier. This frontier had multiple challenges, such as Indians, survival, and means of trading for use in mercantilism.
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The Pilgrims, at Plymouth, followed the Jamestown adventurers. Later the Puritans settled into what today is Boston and Salem. The Frontier, which was ever expanding, and always existent in the United States, grew immensely after the revolutionary war. In the Treaty of Paris the United States received the area known as the North West Territory.
It was from the Mississippi River to the present day boundary, which were the Appalachian Mountains as was stated in the Proclamation Line of 1763. This virtually doubled the size of the United States. This land had already had many settlers, and was a booming frontier. The territory was going to be divided into about 5 states, each of which would not have slavery. The next addition to the United States came at a very prosperous time, when Jefferson was in office. He received the Louisiana Purchase.
This was his greatest achievement. It came buy a stroke of luck. Napoleon was still in rule in France, and he needed more money. He looked to land he already had conquered. Napoleon had control of the land east of the Mississippi River. Jefferson sends diplomats to France to discuss how to acquire the land that Napoleon had control of.
Napoleon saw this as a moneymaking opportunity to help the French Empire. He offered 14. 5 million dollars to pay for the entire territory. Jefferson gladly paid.
He had just doubled the size of the United States, and made himself a hero to all farmers, as the Louisiana Territory was almost all farmland. Not only that, but it gave the United States complete control of the Mississippi River. Though the Great Plains was called the great desert they changed the course of the United States. The next frontier came from a southern neighbor, Mexico. The Texas Annexation was given to the United States by Mexico after Moses Austin in search of more farmland asked permission from the ruler. More people followed his lead into this new land, east Texas.
After the population in this area surpassed the number of Mexicans, the Mexican government demanded that growth was to be stopped, to abolish slavery, and to convert to catholic. These demands we ignored and a quasi war started and shortly ended with the annexation of Texas. Later the succession New Mexico Territory occurred after the Mexican War and Oregon Territory came into the union 1846. At that time, the frontier was complete. The frontier can be divided into four groups, Northwest Territory, Louisiana Territory, Mexican Territory, and Oregon Territory.
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When the settlers first came to America they found a land of seeming less endless opportunities. They had endless amounts of land, food, and materials; the first frontier had one thing, for sure, adventure and danger. After the land had been slightly settled and most of the dangers, mainly Indians, were to have thought to pass the colonization began. The frontier was always expanding as more and more people relocated to the more interior land of the new land. The tidewater was the common name for those lands that were close to the sea. The frontier began as being nearly 5 miles into the woods.
As time passed and more people arrived the frontier expanded. Though the frontier never really was over 100 miles from the shore of the Atlantic Ocean it was still the frontier nevertheless. The colonial frontier began in 1607 with the settling of Jamestown. This proved to be something new, and challenging, considering almost half of the settlers died with in the first year. The frontier was harsh, and during the, ‘Starving times’ it proved that fact. The Indians had killed all the game in the area, so that the British in fear of dying would leave.
They stayed; they used the ‘Head right’s ystem in Jamestown. The ‘Head right’s ystem is where any paying passenger of a ship receives 50 acres of land upon arrival. This was done to work the earth, and to create a cash crop so that the economy of the new world could survive, it also enticed more people to come (Billington The Westward Movement in the United States, 14).
In 1632 a second colony, Maryland, was formed. They followed the precedence that Jamestown had created, and they improved upon it greatly.
They perfected it so well that there was no ‘Starving time’ (Billington The Westward Movement in the United States, 14).
The system was not perfect; it’s just that not as many people died. Maryland went in as deep in the new land as the ‘Fall line,’ or where the rivers could not be navigable because of rapids. By the 1660’s the Tidewater was fully flourished, it was full of small farms, with usually a cash crop such as tobacco, or indigo.
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The frontier of this time was literally at the ‘Fall line.’ On the ‘Fall line’ there were fur traders, who would explore even further the unknown to trade furs, they were called ‘Border barons.’ These were the type of people who helped in Bacon’s Rebellion. This was what really showed people how important the frontier really was. Due to lack of assistance of protection from the Tidewater colonies Nathaniel Bacon got himself voted leader in the house f Burgesses. He proceeded to attack the Indians unauthorized, to help his friends on the frontier. He died in his rebellion on a march to take over Jamestown. His accomplices were punished severely.
Yet this showed how the frontier needed just as much attention as the coastal colonies (Billington The Westward Movement in the United States, 15) Massachusetts Bay colony was settled in 1620’s. It was settled in Boston, and Plymouth. They had multiple troubles in the new land, mainly with Indians. They had a major war with the Pequot Tribe. The war was to the bloody end; the Indians were eradicated. The soil in the north was rocky, and made it impossible to grow cash crops like cotton, or indigo.
The farming up north was simply sustenance. The west kept expanding and when it expanded it angered the Indians greatly. Finally the Wampanoag tribe could not take it any longer. King Phillip, a Wampanoag chief, began a vicious attack on the colonists.
In the end of King Phillip’s war over a sixth of the male population died, and over 25 towns had been destroyed (Billington The Westward Movement in the United States, 18).
The ‘Old West,’ or past the ‘Fall line,’ was like nothing anyone in England could have ever imagined. Those who braved the frontier would sever their line of communication to the rest of the world. The living conditions were more primitive than anyone had encountered before. Yet, still the people came. By 1709 over 13, 500 people were simply waiting to leave England.
They had heard of lands, ‘where farmers or husbandmen live better than lords’ (Billington The Westward Movement in the United States, 20).
The Scotch-Irish also followed in the next wave of colonists. The Tidewater had been long settled during the 1760’s. The people had created a stable flow for mercantilism. The west saw these eastern people as aristocrats whose control of the colonial legislation will threaten the natural development of the American civilization. The westerners were very laid back when it came to social life.
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They did not measure each other by the amount of money they had, but by how easily they could catch a buck, or how well they could throw an axe (Billington The Westward Movement in the United States, 20).
The ideals of the frontier society were completely different from those of the Tidewater colonies. The frontier was treacherous; it had Indians, animals that could kill a man, no protection from other groups. During the 1700’s major disputes arose between France and Britain, on their new territory.
There were many little quarrels, as there are before any ting big happens. France wanted the Appalachian Mountains, and they wanted to contain the British colonies to simply the eastern seaboard. The French had even placed forts near our expanding territory on the edge of Pennsylvania. The British did not like this. Robert Dinwiddie sent a messenger to tell the French to move from our borders. The messenger was George Washington at a mere 21 years old.
He sent the message to Fort LeBeouf; the reason for the message was because the Ohio Company felt threatened by the French presence. When the messenger returned he brought bad news. The French had refused to move. Washington and some of his men went in and proceeded to attack French forts. He started at Fort Duquesne in May of 1754.
This was the beginning of the French and Indian war (Wexler, 2).
The French were better equipped to fight. They had more strategic ground, such as Quebec, which was supposedly impenetrable. The British outnumbered the French 15 to 1, and they had a superior navy.
The major shift in the battle was when Prime Minister Pitt came into the British government (Billington The Westward Movement in the United States, 24).
He allowed the Settlers to fight the way that they wanted, mainly guerilla warfare tactics. The British prevailed in a glorious victory on the Plains of Abraham, in Quebec, and in 1760 Montreal surrendered, and the British had won. The Treaty of Paris after the war gave the British control of the Ohio Territory (Wexler, 2).
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In the Treaty of Paris was the treaty that was come to after the French and Indian War. In this treaty the United States received the Ohio Territory, and everything west until the Mississippi River.
With all this new land the settlers could hardly contain themselves. They went right in started to move in on land that was not really theirs. It was the Indians land, and when the settlers moved in the Indians were angered greatly. Once such instance was Pontiac’s Rebellion. He went on a killing rage with his tribe, the Ottawa, and moved the frontier back near the Alleghenies. This set up a new colonial policy.
Since in the Treaty of Paris had already ended salutary neglect, and increased taxes, the only other thing that they could do to help protect was to set up the Proclamation Line of 1763. The colonist saw this as a sort of restrcition, and was the beginning of the revolution. Few actually listened to it, and those who lived beyond the Appalachian Mountains, the border set up in the Proclamation Line of 1763, were called ‘Men of Western Waters’ (Wexler, 5).
In October of 1768 John Stewart created the Treaty of Hard Labor with the Cherokee Indians. This treaty allowed North Carolina to have more land and created most of what today is West Virginia. In April of 1774 Governor Lord Dunmore attacked the Shawnee Indians in what was called Lord Dunmore’s War.
The Shawnee in fear of Dunmore and his men asked for peace. Dunmore compromised and ended up with Kentucky from the Indians. Judge Richard Henderson from North Carolina negotiated with the Cherokee Indians and paid them close to 10, 000 pounds with trading goods like guns, and clothes. In return the Cherokee gave 20 million acres of land between Kentucky and the Cumberland Gap. It was half the land of present day Kentucky. Judge Henderson wanted someone to go mark off his land in the frontier, so he hired Daniel Boone to make a trail.
He cleared out what was known as Wilderness Road. It was later used by thousands of pioneers in their movement west. Henderson owned Transylvania Territory, and he tried to make it the 14 th colony, but since it was west of Proclamation Line it was not truly legal territory, John Adams was greatly opposed the idea. Later after the revolutionary war Henderson commemorated for his investment by allowing him to have 200, 000 acres of land between the Green and Ohio Rivers (Wexler, 6).
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During the revolution of the United States the frontier expanded by leaps and bounds. After suffering multiple attacks the Cherokees surrendered.
They moved out of the land and the rest of South Carolina. The frontier was very susceptible to attacks during the time of the Revolutionary war, not only from the Indians, which were paid by the British to attack the Americans, but the British could attack very easily. George Clark tried to stop the British and Indian attacks in one battle. He hit British forts in the Northwest Territory. He was very victorious; he was called unbeatable, but despite his victories the British still had most of the land in the Northwest Territory. In 1780 20, 000 pioneers were settled in Kentucky.
This number was so high because the land was so cheap. It was 100 acres for only 10 shillings. The Revolutionary war had very little effect on the flow of pioneers going west (Wexler, 8).
The Revolutionary war ended after the British surrender at Yorktown. The Treaty of Paris stated that Britain recognized America as independent.
It gave America control of the land to the northwestern border of the Mississippi River. It allowed America to have control of the Great Lakes, and it gave territorial right of Florida to Spain. After the Revolutionary War there were many problems on the Western front. There was question on how to govern this new land, and what to do about the Indians. There was almost nothing in terms of infrastructure. Six states ceded their western land because they did not want to deal with the problems they were creating.
There was a problem with “Squatters.” They were people who expected protection from the government, even though the land they were on was not part of the Union. These all lead to the creation of the Northwest Ordinance. It proposed that when 5, 000 people lived in a state they could elect a legislator to a 2-chamber house. When the state population reached 60, 000 people they could apply for statehood in the union. When they were allowed in the Union, they entered being equal to all the other states. This proposed that plots of 36 should each contain 640 acres, and be sold at one dollar an acre.
The land would be made into 3-5 states too. The idea did not drive the squatters to buy government land. One declared “All mankind, have undoubted right to pass into every vacant country and there from their constitution.” Very few people actually bought the land, and there were many Indian raids on most of the settlements. The government was in desperate need of money. In 1795 the Treaty of Greenville was signed. It allowed for settlement of 2/3 of Ohio and most of Indiana.
The Indians agreed to let the pioneers live there. In 1794 John Jay went to England to ask them to surrender their posts in the Northwest Territory within two years. In return for such a favor the United States would allow all the fur traders take as many skins as they wanted from south of their boundary, and take back their items with out a tax. The treaty was very unpopular in the United States. The Jay Treaty, and the Greenville Treaty allowed for the west to be open and relatively safe. At the end of the Eighteenth Century Spain had control of Mississippi, the Gulf region, eastern Florida, western Florida, Louisiana and the Mississippi River to the Rockies.
They also had control of the Mississippi River. The only way to use the Mississippi was to bribe the Spanish (Wexler, 35).
Edmond Charles Genet was a French ambassador to the United States with evil intentions. He was planning to take Florida and Louisiana for France.
He planned to do this with the help of the United States. He got George Clark to advertise in Kentucky to join an army that Genet was creating. He was going to take it by force. The army paid one dollar for eve day of service, and for one year of service would pay with 1, 000 acres of land. In 1794 the idea was not allowed anymore.
Congress had passed a law on any American who raised an army (Wexler, 35).
The Wilderness Road that Danielle Boone had cut was still being used. For example in the summer of 1795 over 26, 000 people used it to get to the far west over the Appalachian Mountains. During this time France was negotiating with Spain on how to take the land that they held in the United States, or the Louisiana Territory. Spain viewed the Territory as a major burden and only 50, 000 people lived there, just to put that into perspective that is like a portion of Cobb County across the entire Great Desert.
In 1800 there was a secret treaty between Spain and France. The treaty was called the Treaty of Ildefonso. It gave France control of the Louisiana Territory, and gave Spain its holdings on Italy back. When France moved in we started to get nervous; we liked the weaker Spain as our neighbor, not the world power France, and Napoleon (Wexler, 36).
The Louisiana Purchase was one of the smartest things ever done by Jefferson. For a mere 15 million dollars we received the land from he Mississippi River to the Rocky Mountains.
The land total came to about 828, 000 square miles. At the price we bought it at, it cost the United States only about 3 cents per acre. We bought the land from France, which was originally held by Spain (Leckie, 18).
Before the purchase though the Spanish still had complete control over the Mississippi river. This was not god for transportation; the United States needed control of the Mississippi River for its growing frontier in the Northwestern Territory.
When Napoleon gained control of the Louisiana Territory it was rumored that it wanted to be in competition with the United States. Jefferson’ philosophy on the issue was “Peace is our Passion,’ or he did not want to fight; he wanted to stay neutral like George Washington (Paxson, 132).
Since there was nothing in the Constitution about purchasing of new land Jefferson decided to use the elastic clause. This made his actions completely just.
Napoleon at the time of the Purchase was desperate for money. He had just had a slave riot in San Domingo, and he wanted to get rid of the land he held in North America. The treaty signed on April 30, 1803 allowed for the entire Territory to be taken for 15 million dollars total. The United States had to give special rights to French and Spanish on the Mississippi River for 12 years to help them adjust.
In the summer of 1803 Lewis and Clark went to explore what we had bought. Every person who went on the expedition had to keep a journal even though many were not very literate as most of the people who went were. On the journey they took an Indian, Sacajawea, who helped them translate, and she helped navigate. The crew had three small boats, which were towed, pulled, and dragged, up the river. Most of the Indian tribes the encountered were very friendly, and they had very few problems with any of them. On 1805 Lewis and Clark reached the Pacific Ocean.
They had reached what would become the end of the frontier of the United States. They returned quickly and were in St. Louis by 1806. There they were greeted like heroes (Paxson, 136).
The frontier now reached to the Rocky Mountains. The country had doubled in its size from before.
It was unsure about its purchase of the Louisiana Territory. It had been called the Great Desert, because it was flat dirt land. There was a lack in material. It seemed to be a big washout. After the expedition of Lewis and Clark the territory opened up right away. The easy way of the time to make money was to go into the deep woods for about a year or so, and hunt everyday.
When a sufficient furs had been acquired had enough you would return to town with all the skins that you had captured. The fur trade boomed in the Louisiana quiet quickly. Manuel Lisa organized a commercial expedition to go to the far west. He went up the Yellowstone River with a destination of Montana. Lisa and George Drow iland led the group, and William Morrison sponsored it.
The explorers had 42 trappers and at the mouth of the Big Horn River they made Fort Manuel. They returned successfully in 1808 to the little town of St. Louis. They had a plethora of advice for those who were going to try to follow in their steps.
They also returned with huge amounts of pelts and skins (Maxter, 42).
The Missouri Fur Company was created after the first initial journey with Lisa, William Clark, and Major Andrew Henry as partners. In their first expedition with the group they took 9 barges and enough supplies for 6 forts to be made. One hundred and forty two men came in this journey; it was unsuccessful.
There was horrible trouble with the Indians. The Trappers knew that the good furs were near the Indian borders. They ignored the borders, and the result was multiple trappers being slaughtered by the Indians. In 1808 another group decided to test their fate on the western frontier. John Jacob Astor, who was a German Immigrant, led the American Fur Company.
He wanted to create a chain of fur trading posts to the Pacific Ocean. Jefferson, the president at the time, fully supported all of his expeditions. Jefferson wanted the frontier to be settled, and to move more people out there in the west. The American Fur Company created a subsidiary company called the Pacific Fur Company. They established Astoria. This was the first permanent settlement in the Pacific Northwest.
The trail that was used to get Astoria became the better-known Oregon Trail through the Rockies. The enterprise in Astoria was sold to the British during the War of 1812, the people out west did not even know about the war. A British naval war vessel tried to take the settlement. The company sold it to them for $58, 000. It became a complete failure. It got itself into a debt of over $400, 000 after this deal (Maxter, 42).
The War of 1812 was not significant in the settling of the frontier. The war simply gave us our economic independence from Britain. In most of the battles with the Indians, the Indians were paid by the British to attack the settlers. In one battle, Horseshoe Bend, Jackson obtained 22 million acres of land from the Creek Indians after a stunning victory. In the end of the war the Treaty of Ghent stated that the boundaries were to remain the same as they were before the war, and that Britain will have no interference with trade, as they did before in the Chesapeake Affair where they took some of our seamen because they were British (Wexler, 44).
In the end of the war the United States received Florida from the Spanish.
Jackson had occupied western Florida and claimed it, so the United States paid for eastern Florida, and it remained a territory until 1845 (Paxson, 182).
After the War of 1812 a man by the name of Moses Austin moved into the territory that was owned by Mexico. He obtained permission and made Texas. His son Stephen soon took over the rule after his dead died. They bought the land from Mexico who was very content with the idea of selling their land for some extra money. He bought it at about 12 cents an acre.
The year was 1821 when the first group of people moved in. This was the beginning of Manifest Destiny. By 1830 the population of Americans outnumbered the number of Mexicans in the land. Mexico set up some laws which told the people who moved into the territory, that was owned by Mexico, that the needed to stop the people from coming into the state after the year 1830. They outlawed slavery, and all the people needed to convert to Catholics.
The Americans simply did not listen to their orders and a mini war began (Hamner, 32).
The Americans who lived there called themselves independent even though the Mexican government saw them as part of their country. In March of 1836 a revolt took place, and the coming battles decided the fate for ‘The Lone Star State.’ In the battle of the Alamo, the Americans were slaughtered. But in the battle of San Jacinto the American’s won, and also in the Goliad battle. After this quasi war, the Texans declared themselves independent (Coit, 81).
The United States through the Lousiana Pruchse claimed Oregon territory.
England, and some Russians held most of the land. We wanted it because it had good natural harbors, and places for shipping. It was also rich in materials such as lumber, and furs, to be used for trading. During the 1840’s we claimed the Oregon Territory as our own, simply because we had more people in it than the other groups. In the Treaty of 1846 we received everything below the 49 degree parallel. This gave us control of the Oregon.
Later to follow was the Mexican War. After hard times with Texas, Mexico broke off diplomatic relations with the United States. The reasons for the start of the Mexican war were a huge list of problems that the United States had with its southern neighbor. They attacked us in the quasi war in the Alamo, and Goliad. After that they did not sign an armistice to end the war. The Mexicans, with the ‘government,’ tried to sell California to England multiple times.
They knew we wanted it, but they refused to give the land to us first. They planned to create a Mexican Monarchy under the French protection. Finally they refused to take the Slidell mission. He was sent in to compromise for the purchase of California for $30 million, and to secede Arizona (Billington The Far Western Frontier, 169).
Polk was determined to secure the territory of California by any means.
Since Mexico refused to negotiate the only other way taking the land is by war. The war had started. The war ended with a bitter twist. The territory wanted was haggled over for a long time before an agreement could be reached in the town of Hidalgo, Guadalupe. On February 2, 1848 Mexico agreed to accept the payment of $15, 000, 000 for the territory from the Rio Grande and Gila River, and also the United States would receive California and New Mexico. This expanded the frontier all the way to the west coast (Billington The Far Western Frontier, 190).
After the Mexican War, James Gadsden wanted to purchase an area about 30, 000 square miles. The Mexicans had not listened to his request for this area of land, but to stop another war from occurring in Mexico went with it and too the land for $10, 000, 000 (Hanmer, 60).
The Mormons came into the west in the year 1845. They started in New England. They moved west to Illinois. Here they were persecuted by mobs.
In Carthage in 1844 a mob killed two of the Mormons. Joseph Smith led the Mormons West. They took he Oregon Trail, like most, but they blazed a new path to the current state of Utah. They made it with there faith some say. On July 24, 1847 they settled Salt Lake City.
By the year 1857 the population had grown to over 22, 000 people. This was the last organized migration across the plains (Wexler, 143).
In 1848, a man by the name of John Sutter on his farm in California discovered gold. The word spread quickly. People came by the thousands to California for the 1849 gold rush. It was the largest emigration in the United States history.
The 49 ers were so numerous that at the end of 1849 over 100, 000 people settled in California. California could become a state in the Union. The question was whether for it to be added as a free of a slave state. If it became either one it would throw off the balance between the differing states. There was much debate over it, and after a while Henry Clay came the rescue. Stephen Douglas and Henry Clay worked on a compromise that would please the entire nation.
They allowed California to enter as a free state, but would give popular sovereignty to the rest of the Mexican Territory, later to be New Mexico, and Utah. The South also received the assurance that the fugitive slave law would be enforced stricter than before. This offset the coming of a doomed nation on the verge of civil war for a small amount of time (Wexler, 178) At the time that the Mexican Succession was done the frontier had met the end. It reached the Pacific Ocean. America had reached it “Sea to Shining Sea.” The trouble that now was on the west was how to get people to move out into all of the great land that America had received. After going from and expanse that was endless, the frontier finally ended.
The frontier of the colonial period was a mere 5 miles inland, now that was gone, and the frontier was too. Now all that was needed to complete the United States were people to settle in these regions. The West once again influenced the way the nation was falling apart. Stephen Douglas, in hopes of making Chicago a northern train hub, created the Kansas-Nebraska Acts. This made part of the land in the Great Plains into a two states. The two states would have popular sovereignty on the choice of whether to be a slave or free state.
The bill passed on May 24, 1854. Squatters immediately took advantage of this land. They were followed by a large amount of abolitionist from New England. They went in hopes of influencing the vote by their numbers.
In 1854, Kansas was allowed to create a state legislature. When the voting took place a mob took control of the voting posts. They voted over and over again for a slaver state. The number of votes was 4 times over the census population. The governor would not allow this. He threw the vote out the window.
The mob was known as ‘Border Ruffians.’ They wanted to get rid of the abolitionists in the west. On May 21, 1856 the ‘Border Ruffians’ took control of Lawrence, a small town in Kansas. The north counter attacked with the John Brown Raids. John Brown, and his followers went on a raid, and killed 5 southerners during the night. Kansas was divided like the country itself was about to be.
The tension was high. Kansas became a free state. Soon after Bleeding Kansas, as the mini civil war was known as; the Dred Scott decision was made (Wexler, 187).
The Dred Scott decision happened after a slave owner took his salve up north with him. The slave thought that by bringing him up north he owner was setting him free. The owner was not setting him free.
Dred Scott took his case to the Supreme Court. In the decision they ruled that the Missouri Compromise, which said anything south of 31 degrees 30 minutes could have slavery to Oklahoma, was unconstitutional. With that decision slavery was bound to be rampant in the west (Wexler, 188).
In 1859, a gold strike occurred. The 59 er’s went to Pike’s Peak where a large amount of gold had been discovered. Many people came out west because of the recession of 1857.
They proclaimed ‘Pike’s Peak or bust.’ This greatly increased the population of the west once again (Wexler, 185).
The Infrastructure of the west was very meek, and to have people move a road, or trail must be created. In the West John Butterfield, and William Fargo created a mail system in the west. There were two routes to get to the far west. There was the Central route, which was shorter and used more, and the Butterfield route. Butterfield planned to utilize both of these trails to create his mail system.
After years of preparations by building stations, and more trails the mail could be delivered. On September 16, 1858 the Butterfield Overland Company made its first run from St. Louis to San Francisco. For a journey of over three thousand miles it took only 23 days. They used a horse and buggy method to transport large amounts of mail very slowly. Three men, Russell, Majors, and Waddell, carried mail with Butterfield semimonthly.
They proposed to congress that for mail to go faster the companies would need more supplies, and stations to increase the speed, and efficiency. This was the start of the pony express. They demonstrated their idea in April of 1860. They had set up stations every 10 miles with riders ready to go.
Each rider would do a full gallop for 10 miles, and hand off the bag of mail to the next rider. The rider then would trot back so that the horse could have a rest before the next bag of mail came in. Their mail system worked much better than Butterfield’s. It took nearly ten days for mail to get across the continent in the summer, and fourteen days in the winter. The Pony Express died when the Telegraph was created in October 1861. The time that the Pony Express was put out of business the Civil War had started (Wexler, 209).
The west was not greatly impacted by the civil war. The only people who were really hurt by it in the west were the Indians. Sam Houston the governor in Texas seceded Texas from the union in 1861. He had plans to take Missouri, New Mexico, California, Colorado, and Nevada. The Indians were enticed to join the Confederacy during the civil war by Albert Vice. He reminded them that the Confederacy would protect the Indian’s land.
The Creek, Choctaw, Chickasaws, and Seminoles all agreed to sign the treaty. The Confederates took Missouri, and Arkansas. They headed west for hopes of reaching Pike’s Peak gold. When they got there “Pike’s Peakers” met the Confederates. They were a rag tag army of miners from Colorado. The union, and the ‘Pike’s Peakers’ fought against the Confederacy.
This was known as the ‘Gettysburg of the West.’ The Confederacy suffered the same fate as in the real Gettysburg. The Confederates lost in their campaign to take the west. After the Civil War the frontier had a different problem than Johnny Rebel. The Indians were really creating problems for the government, not only after the civil war, but during it too (Wexler, 213).
The Indians are usually very peaceful, but when a man invades the Indian Territory, the tribe will defend the land. The Sioux tribe killed 6 people in Minnesota in 1862.
The people took this out of proportion, and they vowed for revenge. The people stated either fight, or leave because the pioneers were very stubborn, and the pioneers would not budge. The Sioux decided to fight. They attacked a town in the Minnesota River Valley. We fought back, and this was the beginning of the Sioux Wars.
In 1862 the army had prospered. The next year, Congress told the Sioux to move the Dakotas. Other battles similar to this occurred in high numbers for the next four years. In October of 1868 a peace council met in the Medicine Lodge Creek in Kansas. The Kiowa, and Comanche tribes were present. The tribes accepted 3 million acres of land given as a reservation for the Indians.
The next week the Cheyenne and Arapaho Indians met with the peace council and accepted a similar treaty. The Sioux agreed to stay in the Dakotas (Wexler, 216).
The infrastructure of the Untied States was improving greatly in the west. The first transcontinental railroad was started on July 1, 1862. The railroad followed the Central route between Omaha, and Sacramento. The west was the Central Pacific Company, and the east was the Union Pacific.
The work was slow. In 1865 only 40 miles of railroad had been built from Omaha. The Indians greatly hindered the attack with their random raids and attacks. The railroads met on May 10, 1869 at Promontory Point in Utah. The first transcontinental railroad was complete (Wexler, 218).
It made the world seem even smaller than before.
In Texas a new type of person was emerging. In Texas a new type of person was emerging. The cowboy began to drive cattle for money. The cowboy would buy steer at about four dollars a heifer, and drive the large amount of cattle across the ‘Great Desert.’ When the cowboys got to the nearest industrial town people in the town would pay up to forty dollars a head for the cows. The first drives were very unsuccessful. Indians would capture the cows and hold them ransom for the cowboys.
Joseph McCoy saw this as an economic opportunity. He took initiative too take full advantage of the new cattle system. He created a place for all the cattle herders to drop off their cattle. It was in Abilene, Kansas. He made pens, stockyards, stables, barns, and even hotels. From 1867 to 1871 over forty thousand freight cars had been sent full of cattle.
The movement of cattle was known as the ‘Long Drive.’ This was the beginning of the Wild West (Wexler, 220).
The farmers are the backbone of the United States. If it were not for them, all of the people would have starved. The farmers took a move out west after the Homestead Act of 1862. Life was hard on the range. There was no lumber to build with; there was very little water to irrigate with.
The farmers had to built houses from sod, and they cultivated by ‘dry farming’. They would harrow the fields and till the land five times as many as was normal in the moister east. James Oliver created the iron plow in 1868. This allowed farmers to till, and work the land much easier. 1878 a cord binder was created, and it was much needed. The farmers used it to bale wheat.
In one day a team of two men with a horse could harvest about 20 acres of land. The industrial age helped the farmer drastically by making his work easier, and more efficient (Wexler, 244).
In the Dakotas the Sioux found gold. Custer saw this during a reconnaissance mission. The army tried to stop the people from coming to the land reserved for the Sioux. The people did not listen.
The army stated that they would not protect those who went into the Sioux territory. The Sioux prepared for war. Custer was in charge of tracking them, and surrounding them with a surprise attack. Custer found Sitting Bull’s headquarters, and he attacked it. Then he was ambushed. The Indians had tricked him into a trap.
In the end 225 soldiers were dead including Custer. This battle was known as ‘Custer’s Last Stand.’ The Sioux still had to move, despite their courageous fighting (Wexler, 246).
The cattle kingdom out west had hit its peak in the 1880’s. A steer could be purchased in Texas for eight dollars. They could be sold in the east for up to sixty dollars. In the 1880’s the open range is coming to an end.
The farmers are fed up with the cattle tromping through his crops. The sheepherders also took away from the cattle kingdom. The sheep killed the grass when they ate it, unlike cows. The farmer and cowboy hated each other, and they were always arguing. Then Joseph Glidden invented barbed wire.
The farmers took advantage of this by placing it all around their land. The open range, which permitted the cowboys to go anywhere they wanted, was ending. The farmer took a majority of the land then in 1886 a horrible winter hit. This killed off thousands of cows. When the spring came there were piles of cow carcasses.
Then, in an attempt to get money, the few cows that remained were all driven east. This created a surge in the amount of cows, and the price dropped to only ten dollars a head. The open range was no longer open, the farmers closed it, and the cowboys moved towards other jobs like, ranching cattle, helping farmers, working on railroads, or digging postholes for the telegraph wire (Wexler, 273).
The farmers always seemed to quiet and content.
Until they received their voice in politics they were. In Kansas the farmer was fed up with being taken advantage of. Once someone said, ‘In God we trusted, in Kansas we busted.’ The farmer was unhappy, and wanted change. The railroad, grain elevator, stockyard, and middleman had pushed the farmer over the edge. Mary Lease is quoted by saying, ‘Raise less corn and more hell.’ The banks had charged twenty to forty percent interest on the farms, and foreclosure was a way of life.
The problem was that there was not enough money in circulation for the amount of people in the nation. There was a need for bi-metal ism. In the 1890 election the Populists, or People’s party, ran. Their candidate was James Weaver. They had a solid platform. It was called the ‘Omaha Platform,’ and it promised economic gain, equality for farmers, and prosperity.
The populists did not win. In the 1896 election the farmers were still suffering. The Populists did not run, but they did support Bryan for the Democratic position. Bryan is noted for his famous ‘Cross of Gold’s peach.
Bryan did not win the election. After McKinley was elected there was a gold strike in the Klondike, so the problem went to the back burner (Wexler, 279).
By 1890 there was no more frontier. The maps all had to be updated.
The only frontier was in Alaska. Frederick Jackson Turner created a thesis, by which explained how the frontier had influenced America (Quinn).
He gave this speech at the Chicago’s World Fair in 1893. The paper was titled ‘The Significance of the Frontier in American History.’ Our heritage did not make us Americans, it was the vast expanse of land that allowed us to be wasteful, and open mined that made us Americans according to Turner (Billington The Westward Movement in the United States, 91) The frontier certainly influenced America in a profound way. The frontier after 289 years in the continental United States was no longer existent.
The paths had been cleared. The dirty work of inequality had been fixed. The dangers had slightly subsided. The only thing that is left of the frontier is to wait until enough settlers made them into states. The frontier in America is like a book. At first it may seem tame, then you read it and find that there are many interesting stories inside.
The book is open; all that is left is to read it. Works Cited Billington, Ray Allen. The Far Western Frontier. Albuquerque, NM: University of NM Press, 1974 Billington, Ray Allen.
The Westward Movement in the United States. New York, NY: D. Von Nostrand Company, 1959 Coit, Margaret L. The Sweep Westward.
New York, NY: Time Inc. , 1963 Hamner, Trudy J. The Advancing Frontier. New York, NY: Franklin Watts, 1986 Leckie, Robert.
From Sea to Sea. New York, NY: Harpers Collins, 1993 Paxson, Frederic. History of The American Frontier. Dunwoody, GA: Norman S. Berg Publishers Quinn, John. web Sandford.
Westward Expansion. New York, NY: Facts on File 1991.