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This book, "Westward Expansion," is a collaborative work between three American History classes from Spirit Lake, Iowa.
Reconstruction[edit | edit source]
We have reached the period of westward expansion after looking at the Civil War and then reconstruction.  Reconstruction was literally "reconstructing" the United States after the Civil War ravaged physical, economic, and political aspects of the Confederacy.
Ten-Percent Plan[edit | edit source]
Before he died Lincoln had a plan for reconstruction... Lincoln’s plan was a lenient one. Lincoln called his plan the Ten-Percent Plan. Under said plan the government would pardon all Confederates, except high-ranking officials and those accused of crimes against prisoners of war, who would swear allegiance to the Union. As soon as 10% of those people who had voted in 1860 took this oath of allegiance, A confederate state could form a new state government and send representatives and senators to Congress. Under this rule there were 4 states that moved towards readmission: Arkansas, Louisiana, Tennessee, and Virginia. 
Not everyone agreed with the Ten-Percent plan. Radical Republicans wanted no political power for former slaveholders and this group was led by Thaddeus Stevens and Charles Sumner.
As we know Lincoln was killed so it was up to his successor Andrew Johnson to take the reigns of reconstruction. Johnson created his own plan but it wasn't much different. To change the ten-percent plan he said that high-ranking confederates and wealthy southerner landowners couldn't vote.
All 7 remaining slave states quickly agreed to Johnson’s plan. Texas was the only one of the 7 that didn't set up a new state government and elect representatives to congress.
The Horse and the Buffalo[edit | edit source]
The culture of the Native Americans began to change rapidly. The Spanish brought over horses, which changed the pace of hunting for the natives. They also started using guns to help kill buffalo. The horses and guns made it more efficient and easier for them to hunt. The majority of the tribes left their farms to search the plains and hunt buffalo. Buffalo was a necessity for the Native Americans. They used them for teepees, clothing, shoes, blankets, and food. Since they were able to hunt them easier, they had their basic needs. This was a positive thing for the Native Americans, but it also had its down falls. Since they were able to travel further, they trespassed on other tribes’ land what ended up leading to war and battles. Some warriors were honored to kill the enemies. The natives would sometimes call a truce so they could trade and exchange news.
This picture shows how the lives of Native Americans were changed by the Spanish and U.S. Troops. They could easily hunt now with horses and rifles. Hunting became faster and easier for them. In the picture, the Cheyenne Indians are fighting and shooting at the U.S. troops. The Native Americans and Americans fought because the U.S. troops and people would steal their land or take their materials that the Natives used for granted, like the buffalo. The Americans did not respect the Natives’ rights and morals.
The buffalo were very important to most Native Americans in the past. They were part of their every day life. Buffaloes were used for homes, clothes, food, and many more things. Native Americans did not take the buffaloes for granted; all parts of the buffalo were great use to them. Once the U.S. people started coming West, they realized how they could use the buffalo for food as well. The population of the buffalo decreased drastically, and the Native Americans’ lives were changed forever. The Americans did not use all parts of the buffalo that were useful. Sometimes they would even kill them just for fun, while the Indians would use all of it because they needed it. The buffalo were very important to the Native Americans, and once they were almost all gone because of the Americans, they could not continue living the way they used to.
Family Life[edit | edit source]
To the Native Americans, family was extremely important. The tribes would contain family groups with ties to other tribes that spoke their same language. All the people in the tribes had certain jobs. Usually, the young men would train to become hunters and warriors like their fathers. Men or women could become a medicine doctor, called shamans, to heal the wounded with the spirits. The women cooked the food and made the shelters and clothing. They taught their daughters to do the same. The Plains Indians often believed that everything had spiritual meaning. They believed in the Great Spirit, which had power over all things like animals, trees, and the weather. They believed the earth and sun was a mother of all the spirits. The food and land was sacred. Their culture was molded around stories and myths. The tribes never had one ruler; they had a counsel. The leaders of the tribe would make sure everyone was able to use the land and didn't let anyone dominate their tribe.
For the Cheyenne Indians, the people in the tribes had many roles. The children would play and go to school. Sometimes they would go hunting and fishing along with their fathers. Women roles were being in charge of the home. They cooked and cleaned, but also they built the houses and dragged around the heavy posts for the homes when they moved. The men were hunters and warriors. They were responsible for getting food to feed their families. Only the men could become chiefs in the Cheyenne tribes.  
Massacre at Sand Creek[edit | edit source]
Massacre at Sand Creek In 1864, the Cheyenne tribe went to Sand Creek Reserve in Colorado for the winter. They assumed they would be protected by the government, but the government wanted the land for white development. There were several fights over the land, and the Native Americans and the white people finally met together and agreed on peace terms. A group of about 600 Cheyennes camped out about 40 miles north of Fort Lyon. They were following all the rules they agreed on, and thought they would be safe if they did what the government asked them to do. However, General Curtis sent a telegram to Colonel Chivington saying, so he happily responded by sending his troops to fight the Native Americans on November 29, killing over 150 people, mostly women and children. When Chivingston was asked why they killed so many children, he responded by saying, “Nits make lice.”    g
Death on the Bozeman Trail[edit | edit source]
The Bozeman Trail ran straight through Sioux hunting grounds. The Sioux chief had been trying to get the government to shut down the trail, but they did nothing. In December 1866, Crazy Horse and about 2000 Indians attacked Captain Fetterman and his men as they traveled the trail. They killed over 80 soldiers. Native Americans call this the Battle of the Hundred Slain and Americans call it the Fetterman Massacre. Fetterman was considered not very smart, and he hated Indians with a passion. He also believed that no matter how many Indians there were, a regiment of American soldiers could defeat them. He foolishly led his men to believe that 80 of them could defeat the entire Sioux Nation. As the Indians attacked for the final time, Fetterman and his second in command agreed to shoot each other at the same time The government forced the Sioux to sign the Treaty of Fort Laramie, where they agreed to live on a small reservation next to the Missouri River. Sitting Bull, the leader of the Hunkpapa Sioux, was the one leader who didn't sign it. The groups who did sign it thought they would still be able to leave their reservation to hunt.  
Red River War[edit | edit source]
The Camanchi and Kiowa tribes had been raiding for six years. The United States wanted to move the Camanchi, Kiowa, Southern Cheyenne, and Arapaho Native Americans to reservations. During this time, the Native Americans and the settlers did not get along. The U.S. thought it would be safer for the Native Americans if we made them frontier houses on the reservations. Some Native Americans chose to live in the frontier houses but still raided other camps and used the houses as safe houses. Those who did not go along with the United States' tactics were under fire. General Philip Sheridan gave orders to “Destroy their villages and ponies, to kill and hang all warriors, and to bring back the women and children.” Because the United States was so violent and merciless, the resistance in the southern plains were crushed.
“This war did not spring up on our land, this war was brought upon us by the children of the Great Father who came to take our land without a price, and who, in our land, do a great many evil things... This war has come from robbery- from the stealing of our land.” -Spotted Tail. The Medicine Lodge Treaty of 1867 set aside reservations for the Native Americans that would provide education, food, guns, and supplies. Ten Native American tribes endorsed the treaty and promised to stop the raids if they would be able to live in the reservations. The U.S. stated in the treaty, “They can hunt on any lands south of the Arkansas River so long as the buffalo may range thereon.” Basically the U.S. was promising them land to hunt the buffalo that the settlers could not touch. The American settlers ignored the law and hunted on Native American land anyway, and they practically wiped out the buffalo population. The U.S. government didn't keep their promise and the food that was provided was bad quality and the living conditions were poor. The reservations also had many restrictions, limiting the Native Americans on where they could go, and they had never experienced that before. This caused a lot of unhappiness in the reservations. Some Native Americans were so unhappy that they joined tribes who had broken free to the Texas plain. These groups of Native Americans took it upon themselves to drive the white man out of their land. “When a white army battles Indians and wins they called it a great victory, but if they lose it is called a massacre.”-Chiksika. -- primary source[www.legendsofamerica.com/na-quotes.html][www.texasbeyondhistory.net/redriver/index.html][www.digital.library.okstate.edu/encyclopedia/entries/R/RE010.html]
Gold Rush[edit | edit source]
Within four years of the treaty of fort Laramie, miners began searching the black hills for gold. The Sioux, the Cheyenne, and the Arapahoe protested to no avail. In 1874, when colonel George A. Custer reported that the black hills had gold “from the grass-roots down” A gold rush was on. Red Cloud and Spotted Tail, another Sioux chief, vainly appealed again to the government officials in Washington.
In January 1848, James Wilson Marshall discovered gold while constructing a saw mill along the American River northeast of present-day Sacramento. The discovery was reported in the San Francisco newspapers in March but caused little stir as most did not believe the account. 
Sutter, a Spanish man grunted land in California, discovered gold. He tried to keep it a secret and, though the information leaked, no one really believed it. One of the most famous methods of mining is gold panning. The miners would search for gold in the rive by shifting through the sand . Many thought that gold existed in sheets and would flow into the river. Whoever found that source would be rich.
Custer’s Last Stand[edit | edit source]
Custer was a Lieutenant and led the 7th Cavalry to charge into battle against Lakota Sioux and Northern Cheyenne tribes. Custer's job was to force the Native Americans back to their reservations. Some of the people refused to leave their sacred land. So Custer attacked the from the north. He and all of his 265 soldiers were killed in less then an hour. This was a short-lived victory for the Native Americans. Sitting Bull later escaped to Canada. The Souix treaty of 1868 was similar to this event. American settlers wanted the Native Americans out of the land so they could take it. Therefore, they pushed the Native Americans out of their land, almost always leading to a battle between the two groups. 
On the morning of June 25, 1876, Lieutenant Colonel George A. Custer and the 7th Cavalry charged into battle against Lakota Sioux and Northern Cheyenne Native Americans. Their goal was to have the Native Americans back to their reservations. Some of the Native Americans refused to leave their sacred land, and other hunters were camped in remote places and never learned of the order. The U.S. Army prepared for a battle anyways. Led by Crazy Horse, Gall, and Sitting Bull, the warriors had raised spears and rifles crushed Custer’s troops. Within an hour, Custer and all o the men of the Seventh Cavalry were dead. In 1876, the Sioux were beaten. Sitting Bull still had a few followers took refuge in Canada. Soon enough Sitting Bull surrendered. 
The Dawes Act[edit | edit source]
The Dawes act was to turn Native Americans into farmers or landowners by providing them with 160 acres of land. A single person would have 80 acres. The people thought this law would “civilize” the Indians but little did they know the Indians wanted their own culture. It was adopted by congress in 1887 and was named for the sponsor Henry Dawes. 
The Destruction of the Buffalo[edit | edit source]
Along time ago, thousands of buffalo roamed North America. Native Americans used the buffalo for everyday means and survival. The Native Americans used the skin for clothes and shoes; the meat for eating; the bones were used for utensils and scrapers; hooves for cups; fat for soap and tongues for hairbrushes. When they killed a buffalo they didn't waste any part of the buffalo. Native Americans worshiped the buffalo and then settlers came and started killing them. The settlers started to kill the buffalo and sometimes they just did it for fun. They could kill buffalo without frightening any of the others. After a while the buffalo became more sparse and weren't what they had been before. 
Wounded Knee[edit | edit source]
After many battles with the Americans the Sioux were very desperate. They were suffering from disease and poverty. In there desperation they were told by a prophet that their way of life would be restored if they did the ghost dance. Alarmed by the number of Native Americans doing this the Americans tried to arrest the Sioux chief Sitting Bull.
When 40 soldiers went to do this one of them was killed by Sitting Bull’s bodyguard. This caused the remaining soldiers to kill Sitting Bull. A couple of weeks later Custer’s old regiment rounded up 350 freezing Sioux as they were trying to flee to the south. They caught them on the banks of Wounded Knee Creek about twenty five miles west of current day town of Martin, South Dakota.
While rounding them up a shot was accidentally shot by somebody and it caused the American soldiers to kill 300 of the Indians, most women and children. Although it did bring an end to the Ghost Dance religion it didn't end the Sioux way of life.This was the final bloody end to the Indian wars.
In an autobiography by Black Elk, he describes how he did not feel bad for all the women and children who died because he thought that it would be better for them in the otherworld than to live here with the kind of people that would do these things to women and children. He also said that he would rather move on with them, but he needed revenge first. 
Vaqueros and Cowboys[edit | edit source]
The cowboys and vaqueros were proud of the work they did and most of them came from Mexico. They weren't in great demand until the railroads reached the Great Plains. When a Cowboy wasn't driving cattle he was working on the ranch. Vaquero is translated into the words cow and man. Vaca means cow. In English, it was demoted to cowboys. They used Texas Longhorns for food, work animals and transportation. 
For every 3 cowboys were in the US 1 was a vaquero. Vaquero is Spanish for cattle herder. The American cowboy began from Spanish tradition. The beef industry was very small until the Civil war and the beef industry became large with a demand for beef. The Civil war was when the cowboy started to become famous, and after the Civil war was when poor Confederate soldier and freed slaves started looking for work on the ranch. In the 1880s the cattle industry started to move north, so the space for ranching became much larger. English speaking cowboys often trained horses by "breaking them" by a cowboy that specialized in training horses, but then they realized that they needed a more humane way so they used a new technique used by the vaquero. 
Growing Demand for Beef[edit | edit source]
The Native Americans were the first to hunt and work the land. Unfortunately for them, the settlers growing need to own land, find gold, and raise livestock led to the Native Americans disappearance. Many bloody battles resulted as the settlers and Native Americans fought. After the Civil War and many of the buffalo had died out, there was more land on the open plains. Ranchers started using the large spaces of land to raise cattle. Cities across the nation were growing. Railroads were used to transport cattle from Missouri to Texas to keep up with the growing demand for beef across the country.
Unfortunately the main route from Sedalia, Missouri to Texas had a few of its own obstacles. The first obstacle was bad thunderstorms affected the trade route. Another problem was the flooded rivers along the trade route. The final obstacle was angry farmers who blocked and tried to prevent the herds transported and being sold. These obstacles led to the ranchers trying to find more efficient and better trade routes. 
After the Civil War, there were more cities being built and the demand for beef went up. In 1865, the Chicago Union Stock Yards opened. After a harsh winter, in the spring of 1866, the railroads running through Sedalia, Missouri, opened. Ranchers and cowboys brought their cattle up from Texas to Sedalia going through Kansas. They then took their cattle to towns such as Chicago. The route to Sedalia had many problems. There were bad thunderstorms and rain-swollen rivers. There were also many forests, and some cows would get lost. Some of the cows were sold at low prices, and other cows died of starvation. In 1866 the farmers were angry about their trampled crops, and they blockaded the cattle. That prevented them from reaching Sedalia. 
The Cow Town[edit | edit source]
In 1867 Joseph McCoy proposed a plan too some western towns to make a trail to where rails and shipping yards where. He came to a small town called Abilene and quickly build a hotel and some cattle stalls. Joseph soon came across a problem that he couldn't bring cattle through Missouri because a sickness that cattle had been carrying got people sick. He got though this law by paying a 10,000 dollar bond to pay for any problems and damages.
After he could bring cattle through Missouri, O.W. Wheeler brought 2,400 steers from San Antonio. In the next five years over three million heads of cattle where brought to Abilene from Texas. Soon Abilene became know as a rough town because of all the cowboys in the town. 
Cattlemen drove there cattle down three main trails, one being the Chisolm trail which became very used. It was said to be one of the wonders of the world. It was named after Jesse Chisolm that was a part of Cherokee. He built trading posts. During the Civil war the cattle multiplied they were only worth 4 dollars a cow. The cowboys would go and buy the cattle and go back home on the trail. It stretched 800 miles. 35000 head of cattle went on this trail. Business doubled to 75000 head of cattle and the chisolm trail went really wide. 
A Day’s Work[edit | edit source]
Today I will be telling you about a day’s work as a cowboy. A cowboy is a person who tends cattle on ranches in North America, traditionally on horseback. Some cowboys worked at rodeos also. The cowboy has deep historic roots tracing back to Spain and the earliest European settlers of the Americas.
A cowboy worked 10 to 14 hours a day on a ranch and 14 or more on the trail. They had to be alert at all times for dangers that might harm or upset the herds. Some cowboys were as young as 15; most were broken-down by the time they were 40. A cowboy owned his saddle, but his trail horse usually belonged to his boss. He was an expert rider and roper. His gun might be used to protect the herd from wild or diseased animals rather than to hurt or chase outlaws. 
The life of a cowboy consists of, long cattle drives,which in 1867, the first cattle drive from Texas up the Chisholm Trail arrived at the rail yards of Abilene, Kansas. long hours, and roundups. Their daily life consists of working 14 hours on the ranch and 14 or more on the trail driving cattle. Young cowboys were 15, most were broken down by the time they were 40. A cowboy may own his saddle, but the horse is his boss's. They have to be excellent ropers, and expert riders. The only time they had to use a gun was to protect the herd from diseased animals, rather then to hurt or chase outlaws. The golden age of cowboys only lasted from 1867 - 1886. 
Roundup[edit | edit source]
Time when cowboys round up longhorns they find in the open range into a large corral. They keep the herd penned for several days, so that they are so hungry that they would rather graze than run away. Then they marked and claimed the herd. Then the trail boss chooses a crew for the long drive.
Cattle driving was a major economic activity particularly between the years of 1866-1886. Long distance cattle driving originated in Mexico, California, and Texas. Sometimes it was horses instead of cattle though. Spaniards started the ranching industry in the New World. The roundup usually needed at least 10 cowboys, with three horses per cowboy.
When the cowboys finally reached the end of the trail, they celebrated. Then they started the process again. The cattle drive was a unique time, but id did not last long. The drives ended in the 1890s for multiple reasons. When settlers moved west they planted crops around where the cowboys would take their herds. Barbed wire was also another major reason. frontier.htm
A traditional thing for cowboys to do was to roundup cattle. It was a very difficult task and took time to do. They would starve cattle until they would graze instead of run away because they were so hungry. While they were grazing people would look at the cows and decide which one they would drive. Cows were worth $5-$10 and were important.
Today we still do cattle roundups, but they are vacations rather than a lifestyle. Nowadays they mean how manly you are rather than how much money you can make. It is important to round up cattle but I think I'd rather get paid to do it than pay to do it.  -
The Long Drive[edit | edit source]
The long drive was difficult for both the cowboys and the cattle. If the cowboys made the cattle go too many miles in a day, the cattle might become underweight and unhealthy. They usually traveled 15 miles a day, which meant it took around 3 months to make the journey. There were about 3,000 head of longhorns in a herd. For each herd, there were about 10 cowboys to help them along, with 3 horses per cowboy. The trail boss handled negotiations with settlers and Native Americans along the way. They were paid at least $100 per month. Cowboys were in their saddles all day, slept on the ground, and bathed in rivers. Cooks drove the supply wagons and handled medicines. There were a lot of dangers in the job. Even the slightest sneeze could set the herd off in a stampede. There were many storms out on the plains, and metal attracts lightning. So they put all their metal possessions at the edge of the camp away from the cattle. 
From dawn to dusk, cowboys herded cattle miles at a time during a day. About 3,000 cattle were being herded. This took about 3 months at a time. They had to take a lot of precautions. Like when there were lightning storms they had to put all of their metal possessions at the edge of their camp, and if they made the cattle move to fast, the cattle would lose to much weight and by the time they got to their destination the cattle wouldn't be any good. The cowboys bathed in the rivers that they went by on. They had many cowboys to help. They had a cook, night hawk, wranglers, and one cowboy for every 300 cattle.
Legends of the West[edit | edit source]
Annie Oakley was one of the legends of the wild west. She was called “Little Sure Shot” by Sioux chief Sitting Bull. Annie started shooting game when she was nine years old to support her widowed mother and her siblings. By the time she was sixteen years old she was known as a “dead shot.” She won a shooting contest in Cincinnati by one point to Frank E. Butler who was a well-known marksman. Ms. Oakley married this gentleman and was an assistant to him during his traveling shooting acts. Butler noticed Annie Oakley’s skill in shooting, and he later became her assistant and personal manager. She joined Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show in 1885, and was in the show for seventeen years. She won many awards for her work and skill in the show. She was so incredibly skilled, in fact, that she could shoot a dime tossed in the air from a distance of ninety feet. She even could hit the edge of a playing card from ninety feet away and shoot it five to six more times as it fell to the ground. That inspired the term “Annie Oakleys,” which were free tickets to the shows with holes punched in them.
Her work was considered something of a man’s work, but she helped in changing the public's mind about appropriate sports and activities in which women could participate. She worked to push women’s rights; one being the right to bear arms for sport and self-defense. Annie opened shooting ranges and matches in the United States and Europe for women competitors. She traveled along the east coast to demonstrate to World War I soldiers how to safely use firearms. Annie left a legacy being the first female wild west star. She demonstrated her immense skill in shooting and trapshooting through contests, wild west shows, and rodeos.
James Butler Hickok, more famously known as “Wild Bill,” was also a gifted shooter. He was raised in a normal environment responsible with farm chores and expected to attend church every Sunday. His parents; however, had a station for the Underground Railroad and helped smuggle slaves from the south. He developed his interest in guns while he was fleeing with his father from officers who had accused them of carrying slaves in their stage coach. He would practice at targets on the farm, but his father never really approved of his fantasies about the west. Bill was known for his shooting, but he held many positions as a coach driver on the Sante Fe and Oregon Trails, peace officer, towpath driver, and Union army soldier. Within his workings he met Bill Cody in Kansas who had Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show. “Wild Bill” got his name when he broke up an angry bar mob by shooting a couple of shots overhead. A woman praised him for this calling him “Wild Bill,” although she could have possibly mistaken him for someone else. Mr. Hickok took an offer from his old friend Bill Cody to be in some of his wild west shows, but he eventually left these for other ventures. He had developed a reputation from his shooting and relationships with other people. Once, he entered into a saloon and joined a game of poker, which he had enjoyed many times with skill in his younger days. Jack McCall, who had drunk plenty at that point, approached Bill and said, “Take that!” Mr. McCall took a pistol and shot Bill in the back of the head killing him instantly. 
Railroads open the West[edit | edit source]
The railroads started construction in 1850 it to them till 1871. There was 170 million dollars put into the production of the railroad. The Central Pacific group got 10 square miles per every mile of track laid and the Union Pacific group got 20 square mile per every mile of track laid. The Central Pacific group started in Sacramento, California. The Union Pacific group started in Omaha, Nebraska.
There was a variety of people working on the railroad there were war veterans, Irish, Chinese, African, and Mexicans did all the hard work. In 1869 both the groups had reached Utah. Now the East and West are forever linked.
In 1850 to 1871 the federal government put out huge land grants for laying the tracks to the West. These grants were 17 million acre areas worth about half a billion dollars. The two railroad companies were the Union Pacific going from Omaha to the west, and the Central pacific going east from Sacramento. These railways received 10 square miles of public land for every mile of track on state land. They also received 20 square miles of land for every mile of track in a territory. Civil War veterans, Irish and Chinese immigrants, African and Mexican Americans were the main labor force for cutting through the mountains on their way west. The Union Pacific Railway was responsible for cutting through the Rocky Mountains and connecting the United States forever more. The railroad brought California to the rest of the country
When the railway was finally connected they sent a single word over telegraph, that word was “DONE”. The central pacific Railway was organized by a group of merchants, later called the “Big Four”, these men were Collis P. Huntington, Gov. Leland Stanford, Mark Hopkins, and Charles Crocker. Dr. Daniel W. Strong surveyed a practical mountain path for the Railroad to take, the financial aspect was taken care of by Theodore Dehore Judah, an engineer, and Judah also won the federal support of Abraham Lincoln. The railroad cut a six month journey to a six day trip to the west and California. Most of the settlers in Nebraska, Minnesota, and Wisconsin were immigrants.
This project was set aside when the Civil War broke out. After the war, the companies sped to finish the railroad as quickly as possible, so they hire the immigrants, and African Americans who would work cheaply and quickly. [http://ocp.hul.harvard.edu/immigration/railroads.html
Government Support for Settlement[edit | edit source]
President Abraham Lincoln passed the Homestead act on May 20, 1862. The Homestead Act was made to give power to all American citizens, even the poor. It gave 160 acres of surveyed public land after they payed a filing fee and 5 years of residence. It was supposed to get people to migrate to the west. Northern business men were opposed to it because it lowered property values. By 1900, the Homestead Act had filed 600,000 claims for 80 million acres.
Exodusters were African-American were slaves freed from the south. They lived in bad conditions. Most were people that got ripped off share cropping, and didn't make enough money. Many of them went to Kansas because Kansas was trying to attract settlers. There they thought of possibilities of plenty of land, and bountiful crops. Many could not pay for the whole boat ride, so they would ride half of the way, and walk the rest. When they arrived the exodusters started churches, schools, and small businesses.
The Closing of the Frontier[edit | edit source]
The superintendent of the US Census stated in 1890 that there was no longer a frontier line. The frontier line was defined as "a line beyond which the population was under two persons per square mile."
In 1893, Frederick Jackson Turner composed an essay entitled The Frontier in American History. He stated that the frontier was what gave Americans their special character. He also argued that the exploration and settlement of the frontier had formed character and defined values. Western expansion is behind the optimism, independence, adaptability, ingenuity, and self reliance of the American people. Some historians may argue that the government's role in the settlement of the West was what defined Americans.
With much of the wilderness in the West being for sale, some recognized the beauty of the untamed land. Yellowstone was the first national park to be created. One of many expeditions was the Washburn-Langford-Doane expedition in 1870. This expedition mapped the area and made detailed observations about the land. Yellowstone was officially created in 1872 in the states of Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho. 
Dugouts and Soddies[edit | edit source]
On the great plains, there were few trees to use for housing. Therefore settlers often built soddies. A soddie is made of slabs of sod, usually two feet long, one foot wide, and about six inches thick. The walls were constructed by stacking the slabs atop one another. The roofs were usually boards covered with sod. If the sod was placed grass up, it would be less likely to erode, but mud would drip when it rained. If the sod was placed grass down, the roof was less likely to leak. The soddies were inexpensive, but difficult to maintain. Vermin were abundant, the floor needed watering regularly, and the roof needed to be replaced annually.
Another housing option was the dugout. A dugout was dug into the side of a hill and only needed one side to be built. This wall could be built of stones, logs, or sod. The roof was usually made of sod. These houses were cool in the summer and easy to heat in the winter. However, they were usually temporary because people and cattle could unknowingly wander onto the roof. 
Women’s Work[edit | edit source]
Back in the day, when the Pilgrims just started settling on the Americas, women were admired for their work more than they are today. They worked so much harder to get what they needed. Day in and day out, they did almost as much work as what the man of the house did. Women now-a-days need to have the kind of determination that the women back then did.
I would imagine they were never bored. There was always something that needed to be done. They typically were out working beside their husband. Some of the harder things that the women did, was plowing the land, planting and harvesting the crop and wheat. They also were in charge, you could say, of making everybody’s clothes. They would make then using Beef and Lamb hides.
They deserve almost all of our respect. They set an amazing example as to how hard we should work to get what we need, instead of depending on someone else, or just on your husband to do all the work. The husband wasn't the one who the family looked to for the income. There was an equality between the husband and wife. We need to have that more now, or work towards that. 
Women workers were basically super human they did everything, anywhere anytime. Women worked in the fields with the men, plowing the land and planting and harvesting the predominant crop, wheat. farmed the animals, sheered sheep, even knew how to drive a team of horses. They carded wool to make clothes for their family,in addition they sewed quilts and shoes. They made soap and candles , At harvest time they canned fruits and vegetables, also while tending a large garden Also skilled in doctoring from animal attacks to broken parts. Also sponsored churches and schools, encouraging to make the community stronger.
Technical Support for Farmers[edit | edit source]
John Deere invented the steel plow (1837), enabling to slice through hard soil. It also pulled more easily than any plow that had been tried before. Then, many other machines were invented soon after, like; Spring tooth harrow (1869), Grain drill to plant the seeds (1841), barbed wired fence (1874), and the corn binder (1878). All these inventions made farming and harvesting so much easier and more effective. In 1890 there were more than 900 manufacturers of farm equipment. In 1830, it took around 183 minutes to produce a bushel of grain, then in 1900, it took only 10 minutes. 
The invention of farming equipment and other tools helped build technical support for the farmers on the prairie. The first piece of farm equipment was the steel plow. This was invented by John Deere. Its job was to break up the sod and thick root masses of the tall grasses the prairie had and it replaces the iron plow. They kept upgrading the pieces of farm equipment to make harvest easier. Later after the plow, Robert Hall McCormick invented a mechanical reaper. There were more than just these tools that made farming speedier. The spring-tooth harrow, to prepare the soil; the grain drill, to plant the seeds; barbed wire, to fence the land and keep animals in; and the corn binder. Having all of these pieces of equipment increased the farmers’ need for cash and commercial farming. As all these pieces made farming easier, the market for agricultural products spurs adoption of the improved technology which increased the farm production. By the 1900’s there were more than 900 pieces of manufactured farm equipment. Agricultural was becoming increasingly mechanized and commercialized. 
Agricultural Education[edit | edit source]
The Federal Government supported farmers by financing agricultural education. The Morrill Act of 1862 and 1890 gave states land to help finance agricultural schools. Justin S. Morrill, a U.S. Representative from Vermont during the Civil War, helped lead the Act of 1862. He supported legislation to make a national agricultural school, but President Buchanan vetoed it. This was a setback. On July 2, 1862, President Lincoln signed the first Morrill Land Grant Act. The Act would start a revolution in American education because it provided states with the funds they could use for many productive things.
The Morrill Land Grant Act of 1890 helped with the formation of agricultural colleges and also was designed to bring better education for former slaves. They couldn't enter White colleges and universities to be educated. This act led to the formation of 17 Black land grant colleges in the former Confederate states. It had a consequence of supporting segregation in education based on racism. The act called on states to allow free slaves to their colleges or to create new schools for accomplished students.
The Hatch Act of 1887 established agricultural evaluation stations to let farmers know about new expansion. Agricultural researchers made grains for arid soil and techniques for dry eastern plains to flourish and become “the breadbasket of the nation.” The Act attacked general unawareness of growing problems. This helped make agricultural producers even more productive. The Act’s funding has caused in a federal-state research connection that has removed the danger of hunger and the work of the existence of agriculture production. The Hatch Act pretty much established agricultural evaluation stations in connection with the colleges that were established in several States. 
Farmers in Debt[edit | edit source]
Post Civil War farmers had many burdens, and those burdens really put a hurt on their wallets. There were many reasons why the farmers went into debt. Machinery was very expensive at this time, and they had to borrow just to buy a machine to get started farming. There were outstandingly high taxes, and the shipping costs were ridiculous. The railroad took advantage of farmers needing short trips, so they raised the price of a short trip ticket to the point that it was more expensive than the long trip tickets. These conditions really brought the farmers together.
There were a few plans that the farmers had to try to get ahead in business. They used as much land as they could get their hands on, and when wheat was high, they didn't have much of a problem repaying their debt. Many of these farmers found themselves growing as much as they could. These farms were called Bonanza Farms, and these farms had up to fifteen-thousand acres of one single crop. In one incident, there was twenty-four square miles of one crop in Casselton, North Dakota. In the 1880’s the plains got a drought much like that of the drought that happened around forty years later. Due to this extreme drought, Bonanza farms slowly started to die off and disappear. 
Economic Distress[edit | edit source]
The financial problems of the farmers were not only in one area of America, but in the nation as a whole. America wanted 500 million dollars worth of paper money during the Civil War. The paper money wasn't worth as much as the hard money such as coins and paper money printed in yellow ink that could be exchanged for gold. After the war, greenbacks were out of circulation.
Taking the greenbacks out of circulation increased tension and it also increased the value of the money that was still in circulation. This means that if farmers borrowed money before, they would have to pay them back with money that has more value than it did before. Another problem was that they weren't getting paid as much for their crops any more. For about 20 years, bushels of hay had to decreased from $2.00 to only $0.68 from 1867 to 1887. Farmers were losing money left and right.
In the 1870’s, farmers and people that were in debt kept asking the government to put more money into the circulation. The only result of that was the Bland- Allison Act of 1878 which meant that the government had to distribute 2 to 4 million dollars worth of silver each month. It wasn't enough.
One thing that stayed strong were exports that were circulating throughout the South. From the production of tobacco along the James River to northeastern North Carolina to rice and indigo around many coastal swamps in the Carolinas and Georgia. After a while, cotton production started to grow slowly but surely. 
Problems with the Railroads[edit | edit source]
Building the railroad was a great thing, but had many problems that came along with it. Thousands of miles of available track were only in the Northeast and the South because the center of the country was still unsettled. They ran into a huge problem and that was mountains. They had to start on both sides and meet in the middle. There was not a lot of competition for the railroads, so the railroad cost was higher. The railroad workers made secret agreement with Middlemen which were grain brokers and merchants because the railroads were able to control the grain storage and the market prices. The workers that made these agreement got caught and had to work longer hours and were in more debt every year.
The workers of these railroads were all different types of people. Most of the workers were Chinese, but there was some other immigrants as well. They may have been different races, but they all had one thing in common and that was they just wanted to work to be done. They were just doing the railroad to do it. They kept waiting for the whistle to blow saying that the railroad was complete and they could stop working. Because of this railroad, the West was a big interest. The railroad helped move people out there but also increased the force of moving Native Americans because it was easier to transport people now. So as you can see, the railroad was good and bad in many ways and with this great improvement on transportation came many problems. 
The Farmers’ Alliances[edit | edit source]
First started in Lampasas County, Texas. Farmers needed to organize to push for reforms. The Patrons of Husbandry was an organization started in 1867 by Oliver Kelley. From 1870 to the 1900‘s the agricultural exports were tripled.They were an organization called a Grange by the farmers. Its purpose was to create education and a social outlet for farm families. Once the 1870’s came around they mostly just fought the construction of the railroad. The starting of the Grange also started other organizations like the Farmers’ Alliances. All the groups tried to help farmers and educate them about the government, banks, loans and railroads. The people that spoke from town to town about these things were called Spellbinding’s. The movement grew to 4 million, which was mostly in the South and the west. Many of the farmers needed to know how to manage their funds in case a crop the next year didn't come through. Like growing more than one kind of crop.
The Populist Party Platform[edit | edit source]
The Populists proposed an increase in the money supply, which would cause an increasing price of goods and service. the also had a proposal for a graduated income tax and a federal loan program. The Populists wanted an eight hour work day and restriction on immigration. Other opinions were that there should be a better national currency, Transportation should be owned and operated by the Government for the good of the people, and the land,including the natural resources, if owned by a person not from the United States should be reclaimed by the government to let settlers live there.
The Populists won ten percent of the vote in 1892 Later on the Populist platform became the platform for the democratic party and kept alive the concept that the government is responsible for reformation of social injustices.  The Populists otherwise known as the People’s Party was a short-time political party. It caused a increase in money supply which people started creating money that really had no value. There was a rise in prices and supplies. Drought then hit the area and caused it to go into depression. There was government reforms which were an election of U.S. Senators by popular vote, single terms for the president and vice-president, and a secret ballot to end vote fraud. The Populists wanted an eight-hour work day and restrictions on immigration. Many people liked this a lot. The Populists got almost 10% of total vote. The People’s Party elected 5 senators, 3 governors, and 1,500 state legislators. The Populists became the base or platform of the Democratic party and then the Populists Party mostly faded away.  
The Panic of 1893[edit | edit source]
During the 1880s, farmers were over-burdened with debts and loans. Railroad construction had expanded faster than the markets, so, in February 1893, the Philadelphia and Reading Railroads went bankrupt. Soon after, the Erie, Northern Pacific, Union Pacific, and the Santa Fe went bankrupt. The government’s gold supply had worn thin, partly due to its obligation to purchase silver. People panicked and traded paper money for gold. At Wall Street, the stock prices dropped dramatically, which in turn caused the price of silver to plunge and the silver mines were forced to close. At the end of 1893, over 15,000 businesses and 500 banks had closed. The depression of the 1890s lasted until 1897. One response to the series of failures and bankruptcies was an upsurge in business consolidations. The poorer of the nation thought they had been ignored during the hard times and the were left at the mercy of the trusts.  
In the 1800s, many farmers were deep in dept. Construction on the railroads was expanding faster than markets. In 1893 the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad went bankrupt, followed by the Erie, the Northern Pacific, the Union Pacific, and the Santa Fe. People were trading paper money for gold. The price of silver went down and mines closed. By the end of the year, over 15,000 businesses and 500 banks closed. 3 million people lost there jobs.
Silver or Gold[edit | edit source]
Populists watched the two major parties divide and struggle between different regions and economic interests. The central issue was which metal would be the basis of the nation’s monetary system. The “silverites” who favored bimetallism, which was a monetary system in which the government would give citizens either gold or silver in the exchange for paper currency or checks. The “gold bugs” favored the gold standard, which was backing dollars solely with gold. This group also has President Cleveland in it.
The backing of currency was an important issue because people thought paper money was worthless if it could not be turned in for gold or silver. Silver was more plentiful than gold, backing the currency with both metals, would make more currency, (with less value per dollar) available. Supporters of bimetallism hoped that this measure would stimulate the stagnant economy. Retaining the gold standard would provide a more stable, but expensive, currency.
The Greenback party thought that paper money would be the solution. But during post war decades, the opening of vast silver veins had sharply increased the nations silver supply. The silver ratio was 16 to 1 which was the moderate solution to the currency problem. Bimetallism was the main topic of issue during the 1890’s and lasted into the late 19th century. in 1896 and 1900 the gold standard defeated the silverites under William Jennings Bryan.
Bryan and the “Cross of Gold”[edit | edit source]
This started with the Populist Party calling for bimetallism and free coinage of silver. They couldn't decide how they were going to approach this though. Would they join forces with sympathetic candidates in major parties and risk losing their political, or should they nominate their own candidates and risk losing the election?
As the 1896 campaign progressed the Republican Party committed to the gold standard which is using gold as the primary currency and nominated William McKinley for president because he supported this. The Democratic Party, however wanted the combined use of gold and silver and thus elected 36 year-old William Jennings Bryan and their representative running for presidency. Later on this is where Bryan would make his most famous speech called the “cross of gold speech.” This was also known as the most important speech in political history. It was delivered on July 9, 1896, in a convention in Chicago. He said this speech in intent to represent the broad population like farmers, small town merchants, and business men.
The End of Populism[edit | edit source]
In this chapter, William Jennings Bryan won the democratic nomination. Two weeks later, the delegates where both pleased and frustrated. They didn't like his idea called "Cross of gold". This made Democrats nominate their own candidate.
In the national campaign, populists served as a symbol for republicans. They warned that the silver Democrats had allied themselves with ignorant "hayseeds". Bryan ignored the people party, even though he was its nominee.