MGC HIST 2112 - Essay 2- Were the first settlers Pioneers

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Tivzenda 1Professor Online US History Since 1865 Section 17 Spring 2020Essay 2: Considering the role of corporations in the settlement of the West, can we still think of it as aland of "sturdy pioneers" and "rugged individuals"?The West draws several remarkable images and captures the imagination many years later. The expansion of America into what is termed the New Frontier, is an incredible moment in US history. It hasmany hallmarks of great storytelling and has fueled Hollywood for decades. Man vs Man, (hu)Man vs Nature as he braves the elements to carve out a new life in a new environment—the first American settlers into the west. Man vs Himself in times of war, knowing your adversary has more ammunitions, and is more ruthless than you are, but you fight for something greater than yourself—such as the NativeAmerican chief who knew the outcome of conflict with the US military, but had to fight because of the promise he made his people and his father. There are so many similar accounts which are invigorating, evocative and require little embellishment to capture the imagination of an audience. And the episode of the original American settlers happens to be one of the most eye-opening moments of the New Frontier. The early American settlers braved the new terrain without governmental efforts or large sumsof cash. The investors and government grants wouldn’t come until the end of the 19th century, as was pointed out in a rebuttal to Frederick Jackson Turner’s essay concerning the west. And though, the investment from corporations was essential, but a seed is just a seed. Someone must survey the land before it’s planted, tend the grounds that keeps it. And finally watch and make sure the growth is sustainable and is maintained. The Pioneers planted the seed. They fed the seed with their own blood, sweat, and tears (the same for the Native Americans inhabiting the land) on the unfamiliar soils of The New Frontier. Before investors from the east knew about the west, a few Americans set out on their journey to the New Frontier. Many of them were discontent with America after the Civil War or simply trying to reinvent themselves as Frederick Jackson Turner opined in his essay. They brought with them various skills, they were of different backgrounds, born in different regions, but the allure of a new beginning didn’t stop them from venturing into this unfamiliar territory. They could only be broadly profiled as seekers—searching for a new avenue to the American dream because the old one stopped working for them. Some of them were Blacks fleeing Reconstruction. Many were immigrants without work, still trying to carve out a niche in the land of opportunity. Others looking for an escape from government oversight and conflict. The New Frontier was the oasis in the desert. Frederick Turner referred to the west as a safety valve for those who didn’t want to remain on the east coast. It was a place with natural beauty and bountiful natural material but as is the case with nature, things aren’t always as peaceful as they seem. Without emergency services, or law enforcement, all you have is your ambitions and your efforts. The men would often go searching for food, or trade to feed the family. And the women had to tend to the family, and the farm, when the husband was gone. There were droughts and brutal winters, one winter was so harsh it killed millions of cattle. John Wesley Powell, a journalist even remarked, “the land was so arid and harsh, only government could manage irrigated farms or cooperative farms.” But the new settlers persisted. In order to survive such conditions, a high pain-threshold is required, as well as unmovable faith in the good outweighing the bad. Even if the bad was terrible it wasn’t terrible enough to kill you, then you were in good shape.Tivzenda 2This survivalist mindset was needed when conflicts started to occur between settlers and Native Americans. The earliest settlers started moving to the west around the mid 1860’s. And at this time the settler population was smaller and the relationship between the natives and the settlers was peaceful. The population of the settlers was at 300,000 people. But after the rumors of new fortunes and opportunities, the settler population exploded to around 3 million. Some Native American tribes did not view this growth as encroachment on their territories. And the Sioux tribe killed 100’s of settlers to voicetheir displeasure. Skirmishes broke out for several years without any help from the military. The government intervened when they saw the Western plains as an asset, and the military was finally sent in. Many Native Americans left their grounds seeing they were outgunned, but others fought till they couldn’t fight anymore. In fact, President Lincoln sentenced 300 Native fighters (all but 38) to death, the largest execution in American history.But it wasn’t just the stubborn effort of the early settlers that built up the west. On the contrary,the West stopped being the New Frontier when the federal government started giving grants and displaced the native populations from the land. Federal involvement made the expansion inevitable. Theheartland of the 2nd revolution was around the Great Lakes, where manufacturing took over and dominated the family farmers. The railroad industry tripled between 1860 and 1880, and then repeated this trend in 1920. The spur in manufacturing created concentrated wealth unseen in prior years. Large companies became bigger, after consuming smaller companies. The 1st billion-dollar corporation formed:US Steel. Then others followed like Standard Oil funded by JP Morgan, Pennsylvania Railroad company, and Standard oil. The early settlers were now beholden to some of the same tentacles they had hoped to escape. But they couldn’t with many settlers and small farms going out of business, many people worked for these mega companies. Without this union the west would’ve never been what it is today. But there would be no foreign investors, no manufacturing hub, no expansion and development withoutthe first brave souls planting a seed—the American settlers, the

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