Which argument for expansion probably had the greatest appeal among Americans, and why?
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Which argument for expansion probably had the greatest appeal among Americans, and why?. Colonial America: How the West was Lost. I. Visions of the West. A. Turner’s Frontier "The Significance of the Frontier in American History," 1893:

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Colonial america how the west was lost

Colonial America: How the West was Lost appeal among Americans, and why?


I visions of the west
I. Visions of the West appeal among Americans, and why?

A. Turner’s Frontier

  • "The Significance of the Frontier in American History," 1893:

  • "The existence of an area of free land, its continuous recession, and the advance of American settlement westward explain American development."

  • Frontier "that coarseness and strength combined with acuteness and acquisitiveness; that practical inventive turn of mind, quick to find expedients; that masterful grasp of material things... that restless, nervous energy; that dominant individualism" = Americanism


Rugged individualism
Rugged Individualism appeal among Americans, and why?

  • Farm life on Plains is very difficult: hard work, essentials (water, fuel) are scarce

  • Weather is unpredictable (heat, storms, blizzards, floods, prairie fires), plus insects

  • 98 Meridian


  • Democracy for women (compare early South Carolina + slaves) appeal among Americans, and why?

  • Homestead Act (1862) disperses settlement and creates social isolation

  • Also lonely because many were bachelors; many abandon farms for cities (late 1800s)

  • Isolation diminished by mail-order companies and extension of RFD post service


B cowboys and indians
B. Cowboys and Indians appeal among Americans, and why?

  • William “Buffalo Bill” Cody

  • “Buffalo Bill’s Wild West” (1883)

    • Buffalo hunt w/ real buffalos, Indian attack on the Deadwood stage with real Indians, Pony Express ride, and presentation of Custer’s Last Stand w/Lakota who had actually fought

    • Toured Europe, great acclaim

  • ½ circus, ½ history lesson

  • Annie Oakley, Sitting Bull

  • 1,700 dime novels

  •  violent, gunfighting, gambling, get-rich-quick, lawless hedonism= “Wild West”


Ii realities of the west
II. Realities of the West appeal among Americans, and why?

  • A. Rugged Cooperation

  • Massive gov’t assistance throughout (and today)

  • Pacific Railway Acts (1862, 1864): US 180 million acres to rail companies; States 50 million acres

  • Morrill Land Grant Act (1862): “land grant” colleges

  • Homestead Act (1862): 160 acres, small fee if: 1) 21 / head household, 2) citizen or imm. seeking, 3) build house, 4) farm 5 years 372,000 farms, 80 million acres

    • 50 years post-CW more land than since Jamestown

    • Cheap land immigrants + blacks (50,000 Exodusters)


  • Expansion appeal among Americans, and why?  tension w/ Indians violence cavalry removal + massacre [Sand Creek (500), Wounded Knee (200)] “Indian Emancipation Act”

    • “Disappearing Indian”

    • Indian “monopoly” on land stymie competition break-up

      Dawes Act (General Allotment Act), 1887

      1) 160 acres of land to head of each family; single over 18: 80 acres; under 18: 40 acres

      2) same legal protection as whites’

      3) Federal government, for 25 years, would hold land in trust: Indians could not sell land for 25 years

      4) Full citizenship rights

      5) Fed sell all remaining land not allotted



Destruction of the Buffalo refuse farm; not enough land

  • 1) Weather

  • 2) Indians

  • 3) Competition horses/cattle

  • 4) Bill Cody



B mild west
B. Mild West (environment) + boom/bust cycle

  • 1) Not as violent: more died violently in RxR accidents than gun

    • 1889: 50 gunmen Wyoming Stock Growers Association vs. small ranchers + farmers: 3 days shooting, 1 death (shot self); Feds save gunmen

  • 2) Violence often socio-economic conflict: competition for land, resources, power

  • 3) Violence usually not personal conflicts but rather conflict between social groups (e.g. pan miners vs. capitalists’ goons—see Pale Rider)

  • Cleaned up quickly as big biz moves in


The ranching frontier
The Ranching Frontier (environment) + boom/bust cycle

  • Population growth + RxR (bulk transportation) cattle ranching mushrooms after 1860s

  • Penny press claims 25-40% profit

  • Drive cattle 1,000+ miles from TX to rail link, but soon move to raising herds near rail link (long drives inefficient)

    • Mexican + black cowboys

  • Profitable open-range ranching w/ massive use gov’t lands; dominated large ranchers w/ backing (London, NYC)


Grazing wars
Grazing Wars (environment) + boom/bust cycle

  • Massive cattle ranching conflicts commercial farms + sheep herds (“wooly critters”)

  • West lacks materials for traditional fences: who owns what? Mass production barbed wire solves conflict

  • Wire accelerates farming (protect); ranching moves toward big business, away from open-range (large-scale isolate)

  • Winter 1887-88 Small ranchers out, most cowboys wage-earners


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