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The American West An Overview:

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Presentation on theme: "The American West An Overview:"— Presentation transcript:

1 The American West An Overview: 1860-1900

2 “The American West was a land of opportunity for Americans in the late 1800s.” To what extent do you agree with this statement?

3 The American west was a land of hardship and opportunity.

4 Western life was largely shaped by geography.

5 Western expansion continued to bring American settlers into conflict with American Indians.

6 4 main economic opportunities in the West
Farming Ranching Mining Railroad construction


8 Land Grants to Railroads

9 What does a successful farmer need?
Farming What does a successful farmer need?

10 What does a successful farmer need?
Farming What does a successful farmer need? Land with tillable soil Adequate rainfall or irrigation Access to machinery and supplies A way to transport goods to market A market for the goods

11 Opportunities Available Land Sources: Homestead Act (from gov’t)
Sales (from other land owners)

12 Hardship Thick sod Lack of rainfall/water Social isolation Debt
Low crop prices High freight charges Extreme weather Crop-eating Insects

13 The “Soddie”

14 Ranching

15 Opportunities Ranching is possible in places that couldn’t support other types of farming Markets existed for beef, wool, etc.

16 Hardships Livestock susceptible to disease
Farmers opposed open range, put up fences


18 Mining

19 Opportunities The chance to get rich

20 Hardships Few got rich Large corporations began to takeover the mining business

21 Railroad Work

22 Opportunities Jobs

23 Hardships Dangerous, exhausting work
Competition for jobs kept wages low

24 The Impact of Railroads
Brought settlers west Allowed westerners to trade with the east Largest landowner in the west Responsible for the creation on many towns Encouraged slaughter of buffalo Accelerated conflict with Native Americans

25 The Indian Wars "It makes little difference, however, where one opens the record of history of the Indians; every page and every year has its dark stain. The story of one tribe is the story of all." --Helen Hunt Jackson

26 Indian Wars: background
In reality, Indians had been at war with white "invaders" since about 1493 when Columbus' men had their first clash with Native Americans. Indians in the American west had been isolated from the pressures of U.S. expansion until after the Civil War.

27 Indian Wars: A Shift in Policy
When expansion into the American west accelerated and the U.S. government changed its policy to "concentration." This meant moving Indians onto reservations. Some tribes peacefully signed treaties with the US government giving up their lands in exchange for promises of food and other payments. Other tribes fought for their lands. Life on reservations was worsened by corrupt Indian agents.


29 Indian Wars Beginning in 1862, the U.S. army began a series of violent conflicts with various Native American tribes. Together, these conflicts are known as the "Indian Wars." The goal of U.S. policy was to force uncooperative tribes onto reservations and to secure western lands for white owners.

30 The End Results All tribes were forced onto Reservations
Traditional ways of life for Native Americans were endangered Settlers gained access to the best Western lands

31 The near-extinction of the bison
Buffalo were hunted for sport, for their valuable furs, and as an intentional way to hurt Indian tribes that relied on the animal for survival.

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