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“American Progress” by John Gast (1872). WESTWARD EXPANSION The Last American Frontier.

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Presentation on theme: "“American Progress” by John Gast (1872). WESTWARD EXPANSION The Last American Frontier."— Presentation transcript:

1 “American Progress” by John Gast (1872)

2 WESTWARD EXPANSION The Last American Frontier

3 INTRODUCTION In the later 19 th century, the last American frontier was transformed by America’s rapid population growth and industrial development. The Frontier has generally been defined as the line separating areas of settlement from “unsettled” wilderness territory. From another point of view, the American frontier marked the dividing line between areas where Native Americans lived and areas settled by more technologically advanced peoples

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5 THE BIG QUESTION  What factors contributed to the settlement of the Great Plains and Far West?

6 SETTLEMENT OF THE FRONTIER  By the end of the Civil War, American settlers occupied the Mid-Western prairies and had a foothold along the Pacific Coast.  Between was a vast expanse of territory that consisted mostly of the Great Plains. Home to millions of buffalo and the Native Americans who lived of them for food and hides.  The Lure of Precious Metals – discoveries of gold and silver in California, Alaska, the Rocky Mountains, and Black Hills of North Dakota led many to set out to “strike it rich”

7 Continued…  The Indian Wars – After the Civil War, Union troops were stationed in forts along the frontier.  They defeated several tribes on the Great Plains and Southwest and moved them to reservations  Most noted was the contest with the Sioux. After discovery of gold in the Black Hills, they were asked to move from the sacred grounds.  Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse defeated Custer, killing 264 soldiers at Little Big Horn  Within 2 years, Crazy Horse was captured and killed, and most Sioux were forced onto reservations  In 1890, 300 unarmed Sioux men, women, and children were slaughtered by machine gun fire at Wounded Knee, SD.

8 Continued…  The impact of the Railroads  The Transcontinental Railroad, completed in 1869, reduced the journey from New York to San Francisco from 6 months to 10 days  The U.S. led the world in railroad track mileage  Railroads attracted an increasing number of settlers to the west, since they could ship their crops by rail to Eastern markets  Because they sometimes ran through Native American territories, new conflicts arose  From , the buffalo herds on the Plains were destroyed by sharp-shooters traveling by trains, affecting the ability of the Plains Indians to survive.

9 Continued  The Availability of Cheap Land  Prior to the Civil War, the federal gov’t. had sold unsettled land from its public domain for about $1.25 an acre.  After the Civil War the Southern states could no longer block bills that encouraged expansion in the West.  The Homestead Act in 1862 – stated that any citizen could occupy 160 acres of gov’t. land. If they improved the land by making a home and growing crops, after 5 years, they could own the property.  This appealed to many European immigrants.  Almost 1,400,000 homesteads were granted under this act.

10 Continued…  The Cattle Industry  At the end of the Civil War, Texans decided to drive millions of wild longhorn cattle that were grazing on the Great Plains of Texas to railroad lines in Kansas,  From there they were shipped to Chicago to be slaughtered, then by refrigerated rail cars to cities in the East.  This gave rise to the cowboy (1 in 5 were African-American)  Long cattle drives ended by 1887 due to harsh conditions, overgrazing of land, and “closed range” being fenced by barbed wire  Cattle ranchers remained in the plains area, breeding cattle on the closed range and shipping them eastward by train each year

11 Continued…  Farming on the Great Plains  The Homestead Act and sale of railroad land- grants lured farmers westwards.  Railroads made it possible to ship crops to the East.  About half were immigrants from Europe  Farmers faced hostility from both Indians and cattlemen  Natural hardships included little rainfall, few trees, tough soil, extreme temperatures, grasshoppers, and isolation.  New technology – sod-houses, barbed wire, steel plows, drilling equipment, harvesters, and threshers

12 THE FATE OF NATIVE AMERICANS  Government Policy – to push Native Americans from traditional lands to gov’t. reservations in the West  The Reservation – usually smaller than the lands from which the tribe was removed and was less desirable  The gov’t. promised food, blankets, and seed  Clashed with tribal customs, since most were hunters, not farmers  The Dawes Act, 1887 – sought to hasten the “Americanization” of Native Americans by abolishing tribes, giving 160 acres to each family as private property, promising citizenship for those that complied, and the right to vote.

13 Continued…  American Indian Citizenship Act (1924)  Before 1924, Native Americans held a unique position under federal law. Some had become citizens by marriage to a U.S. citizen, other were granted it by serving in the military, or through special treaties. Most were still not citizens and were blocked from the normal process of naturalization open to foreigners.  American Indian Citizenship Act granted immediate U.S. citizenship to all Native Americans born in the U.S.  They did not need to give up tribal lands or customs  Some saw this as a reward for service in WWI  By 1934, the Dawes Act was replaced by an act guaranteeing tribal self-government.


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