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The West: Exploring an Empire

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1 The West: Exploring an Empire
Chapter 17

2 Which “Old West” and Whose?
Where was the “old west” between 1865 and 1890? Can you locate it on a map? Why or why not? Who was Frederick Jackson Turner and why was he significant? How did the US deal with American Indians in the west? Is the West still appealing today? Why or why not?

3 The American West played an increasing significant role in US history between 1865 and During this period, Anglo-Americans settled 430 million acres of land and overwhelmed Native Americans in the so-called Indian Wars. Furthermore, ten new states entered the Union, bringing the total number o states to 48 by Finally, over the course of just a few decades, three commercial “empires” rose and fell: mining, farming, and cattle.

4 Space 3 disctinc regions Trans-Mississippi West Far West Great Basin


6 Great American Desert

7 Stephen H Long, surveyed a portion of Louisiana Purchase in 1819
Coined phrase “Great American Desert” to describe land between 98th parallel to Rockies Described as “wholly unfit for cultivation and uninhabitable for those dependant on agriculture.”

8 The Myth of the Garden Western boosters popularized the myth of the Garden to encourage settlement Claim based on “scientific” evidence Credibility strengthened by unusually high levels of rainfall recorded in 1870s and ‘80s. “In God we trusted, in Kansas we busted.”

9 Images of the “West”

10 Frederick Jackson Turner
“The Significance of the Frontier in American History” (1893) Turner’s thesis, which generated tremendous interest in the fronter

11 Major Points Frontier process
Epic struggle explains American development Fronteir reproduces American democracy and individualism By 1890 frontier had closed, ending the first stage of American development In sum, civilization is a process which becomes ever more complex.

12 Cowboys Approximately 35,000 men between 1864 and 1884
25% black, 12% Mexican, 63% white

13 American Indians Population estimated to stand at 10 million in 1600
By ,000 remained

14 1867 Peace Commission Effort to “civilize” and “pacify” western Indians by moving them to reservations Reservations established in present day South Dakota, Oklahoma, and Arizona

15 Indian Policy Destruction of buffalo to weaken tribes and attract tourists 1865 roughly million buffalo 1885 roughly a few hundred This led to Indian rebellion and then open warfare Red River Way – defeat of Comanche 1877 – defeat of Chief Joseph and Nez Perce 1886 – defeat of Geronimo and Apache – Sioux battle government

16 Battle of Little Big Horn

17 Custer’s Last Stand 1876 Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse flee federal reservation Custer and 7th Cav pursue Indian forced overwhelm US troop and killed Custer and his soldiers

18 Wounded Knee

19 “Ghost Dance” 1880s Sioux Belief that following this faith would drive away white Americans and bring back Sioux society.

20 Final Battle In 1889, Sioux warriors, women, and children tried to flee to Canada Government troops surrounded at Wounded Knee in South Dakota Machine guns Americans left wounded to die in the snow Two views Triumph over “Indian Problem” Senseless slaughter of innocents

21 Dawes Severalty Act (1887) Shaped Indian policy until 1930s
Attempt to tranform Indians into independent farmers Pledged to privde Indian families with 160 acres of reservation land If accept grant, Indians become full citizens Government act as trustee to “protect” Indians from “unscrupulous” whites.

22 Good intentioned but impossible to enforce
1880s-1930s, Indians sold or lost 2/3 of total land (approx. 86 million acres) Land that remained was not good for agricultural development

23 End of the “Old West”

24 “Old West” didn’t last long
Industrialized transformed economics, politics, and society. Politicians and leaders began looking for gold in factories where Americans had once searched for gold in the frontier lands

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