LSU HIST 2057 - The American West and the Rise of Populism

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HIST 2057The American West and the Rise of Populism (1870s-1890s)- Settlement and development took place in a specific context- People already lived in western territories and states- Hispanic populations in Texas and in southwest- Lost 35 million acres of land to government - Tried to resist encroachment- Litigation or violence - Lost farm lands to speculators, ranchers- Became seasonal farm workers- Native americans also lived in West- Length of time in West varied- Some had settled centuries earlier- Some had been relocated by force in antebellum period- Societies in west varied in complexity- Most had subsistence economies : live off land , not make profit- Depended heavily on resources in nature- Environment limited how large- Northwest- Stabile and complex, depended on salmon- Utah, Nevada - Smaller communities , limited food supplies- Other parts of southwest-pueblos- Larger and more complex, relied on irrigation- Great Plains- Lakota Sioux- Relied on horses and buffalo- Societies emphasize community over individual - 1840s, miners and settlers moved through territory - Pressure from farmers, railroads to open land- New treaties forced tribes onto reservations- Continued federal policy to keep whites and Indians separated - Native American tribes resisted - 1850s-1880s , open and violent confrontations - 1864- Sand creek, Colorado o Discovery of gold o Group of Cheyenne murdered by John Chivington - 1870s , more pressure to take lands - Railroads in Sioux territory (SD,WY, and MT)- Skirmishes increased, 1874-76- Gold discovered in the Black Hillso Launched 15 month war, with 15 major battles - Sioux difficult to defeato Battle of little bighorn, 1876o Crazy Horse defeated general George Custer o Unable to follow up victory, US military subdued with attrition ( hounded them into submission)- The Great Sioux War- largest military conflict since civil wat - other tribes worn down by US army - Last to surrender: Apaches, led by Geronimo, 1886- Remaining tribes put on reservationso No longer a threat to settlement o Faced poverty, lack of food and supplies o US government failed to provide adequate rationso Buffalo hunted almost to extinction o Lands not suitable for farming - Other policies threatened survival , culture- Bureau of Indian Affairs undermined tribal leadershipo Barred tribes’ leaders from meeting, imprisoned them- Introduced “Americanization” education attempts- Native American children forced into special schoolo Learned English , attended Christian church services - Men taught to farm, women taught household duties - 1887, Dawes Act: took land and divided to 160 acre plots – for native americans o Encourages individualism, farming o Further reduced land holdings - Religion also targeted for “reform”- Christian philanthropies, churches petitioned for restrictionso Saw native americans religions as pagan o Thought they helped native americans resist americanizations - 1884, Bureau of Indians Affairs made native religious practices illegalo Withheld rations to enforce bano Also used violenceo 1890, Wounded Knee, South Dakota o 200 Sioux killed over Ghost Dance religiono Was seen as threat , could stir uprising - Long legacy of subordination , intimidation for Native americans - Native americans not considered US citizens until 1924- Ban on religious practices lasted until 1933- Between 1886 and 1934 , 86 million acres of land lost - In 1890 only 250000 native americans left - Settlement of west took place in context- Conflict with nnative americans - Expanision of railroads- Influence of business and northern capital - Western border of US “porus”- Since colonial period british and then American settlers pushed boundaries o 1848, US Mexican waro 1840s mining rushes in western landso 1860 people moving for farm - 1862, Homestead Act- 160 acres granted after 5 years of farming- Ignored need for capital, equipment - Not enough land for success past KS, NE- Much of the land bought by speculators, companies- 40% of land in Kansas not available to public- By 1890, 375,000 farms claimed under act but most purchased- Other policies : morill Act 1862-Act demonstrated fed govt role in who got own land- Who was moving to the west ?- Migration increased significantly after 1870- Large mix of people moved into western lands o Americans , Canadians, Mexicans, Europeans- Most migrants were well- off - WTFFFFF- Three major industries developed in west- Mining - 1840s, 1850s god silver discovered in CA CO NV- Carried out by individuals, small groups- 1870, 1880 – more complex mining needed - Required investment, capital o Example: hydraulic mining o Very expensive, companies moved into mining- Miners became wage laborers- 1880s, 1890s attempted to unionize for protection- Did get some states to put in reforms- Cattle and Cattle drives- Industry organized in Texas- Run by small ranchers , cowboys - Railroads brought new economic opportunities - 1867, Abilene , KS established as shipping pointo Drives Abilene began, 1.5 million cattle shipped out by 1870- “ long drives “ became less necessary by 1880s - industry moving out of Texas - Large companies get involvedo Began “closing” the range- made it difficult for smaller ranches to compete o Cowboys become wage laborers- Agriculture- Largest industry in west- Faced difficulties due to environment, climate- Irrigation, fencing necessary - Farmers tended to grow a single “cash crop” for market - New technologies enable farmers to grow more efficiently o Grain elevators, new plows, new drills- Success depended on location, capital, weather, and markets o Over production, transportation, and tariffs all affected incomeo Smaller farms more likely to fail during unfavorable times- 1880s, series of droughts and poor market prices- Fraud and discrimination for shipping costs- Banks, mortgages lenders foreclosed on farms over loans- Tension over currency policies o 1873, law mandated coins could only be minted in gold o Amount in circulation decreased by 10% between 1865-1890o Meant borrowing money was more expensive - 1876, Greenback party formed o Wanted paper currency with no metal backing - Tensions over currency increased in 1880s- 1888 republicans authorized more minting in silver o Eastern bans, businesses disliked the measure- Farmers faced increasing debt, falling prices- Grassroots organizations began to form – Farmers allianceso Developed in great plainsand south o Worked at local level to


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LSU HIST 2057 - The American West and the Rise of Populism

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