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Gold Rush • 1800s • “49ers” • Conflict between Americans and immigrants • Ghost towns • Hoping to “get rich quick”
Mining • Silver mines • Turned into an industry • Miners tended to be fairly rough men • Women ran businesses • Led to early suffrage in western states • Environmental impact • Encroached on natives’ land • Anti-Chinese = Chinese Exclusion Act (1882)
Mining Towns • Boomtowns- popped up overnight Well-known Mining Centers • Pike’s Peak, Colorado • Sacramento • San Francisco • Denver • Virginia City (Comstock Lode)
Cattle Frontier • Grasslands of Texas • Longhorn cattle • Cowboys • Cattle drives- drive the cattle to the RR for shipment to the East • Land known as the “open range” • Numerous cattle trails
Cattle Trails Well-known trails included: The Goodnight-Loving Trail, the Chisholm Trail and the Sedalia Trail. All cattle trails led to a train station. Cattle were loaded onto railcars and taken to stockyards in Chicago where they were sold by head. Ranchers became rich.
The Cowboy Rugged Self-reliant Independent Rough Lonely Heroic Popular dime novels about cowboys were written. Most of them depicted battles between “Cowboys and Indians.”
Barbed wire • Invention of barbed wire put an end to the open range- farmers protecting farms from cattle • Destroyed the cattle drives and the cattle kingdom • Cowboy lifestyle ended • Hurt Native Americans further
The Great American Desert In 1820 Major Stephen Long explored the region now known as the Great Plains. He termed it the “Great American Desert.” The climate inspired him to say the land was “almost wholly unfit for cultivation and of course uninhabitable by a people depending upon agriculture for their subsistence.”
Sodbusting • New agricultural technologies needed to break up the land
Sod homes Why sod and not trees?
Homestead Act (1862) Benefits Problems Land speculation Corruption Families unprepared for life in the West Climate extremes Land Isolation “dry farming” • Encouraged westward expansion • Inexpensive land
Homestead Activity • Complete the reading and questions about the passage of the Homestead Act • Look at the primary source documents regarding a homestead in the Nebraska Territory
Frontier Thesis • Frederick Jackson Turner • 1893 • “The Significance of the Frontier in American History” • The frontier promoted a spirit of independence and individualism among Americans • Helped breakdown class distinctions and place everyone on a level playing field
Fostered a system of democracy • Promoted inventive and practical thinking • Concerned about the “closing” of the frontier- disappearance of open land • Loss of the ability for a fresh start • Would America follow the pattern of social conflict and class division that plagued Europe?