Chapter 11 Settling the West Growth in the Mining Industry



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Chapter 11

Growth in the Mining Industry

  • Mining played a key role in settling the West.
  • 1848- Gold Rush in California
  • Wave after wave of prospectors moved west to –”strike it rich”= forty-niners
  • Demand for minerals increased during & after the Civil War= America was moving from agricultural economy to industry

US Government Encouraged Settlement of the West

  • *1862- Morrill Land Grant Act – Congress gave large tracts of land & $65 million in loans to Railroads, sold public lands with minerals for less than value.
  • *1862 Homestead Act- $10 fee an individual could apply for a “homestead” & claim up to 160 acres- live there 5 years & own it.
  • *1862- Pacific Railway Act- Congress set aside money to build the 1st transcontinental Railroad.
  • Completed 1869- at *Promontory Point, Utah

Effects of Mining on the West

  • Helped bring settlers west-mostly men first; later women- worked as cooks etc.
  • Caused conflict with Indian tribes
  • Damaged the environment
  • Lawlessness= Vigilance Committees
  • Boom Towns
  • Ghost Towns” -by 1930’s Virginia City Nevada had only 500 residents.

Mining Techniques

  • Placer mining”- panning for minerals close to the surface (“panning”).
  • Quartz Mining- used by big mining companies to reach minerals deep in the earth.
  • Hydraulic Mining – used when minerals near surface ran out.

The Comstock Lode

  • 1859- Henry Comstock staked a claim near Virginia City, Nevada
  • Had trouble finding gold= sold his claim
  • Blue clay made it hard to get to rich silver ore below (he did not know)
  • Miners flooded into Nevada= 1864 Nevada became 36th state
  • Comstock Lode = $230 million
  • Helped finance the Civil War

New States Created because of Mining

  • Areas grew- Colorado, Arizona, the Dakotas, & Montana
  • 1858- Gold discovered near Pike’s Peak, Colorado
  • 1870’s Leadville Strike (Colorado)- silver; yielded $1 billion in silver & gold.
  • 1870’s Black Hills, Dakota territory- gold discovered= conflict with Indians
  • 1889- new states- North & South Dakota, & Montana

Environmental Effects of Mining

  • Hydraulic Mining- most devastating
  • Tons of sand, silt, & gravel washed into river beds= floods.
  • 1880’s Farmers sued mining companies
  • 1884- judge stopped hydraulic mining
  • 1893- Congress allowed hydraulic mining if companies stored sediment

Ranching & Cattle Drives

  • Americans began raising & herding cattle 1860’s,1870’s,1880’s
  • Great Plains
  • water scarce & grass was tough- cattle from east could not survive.
  • Texas Longhorn cattle-ideally suited = 1865, 5 million roamed the plains.
  • Open Range (vast area of grassland on the Great Plains)- ideal for cattle

Mexicans & Cowboys

  • Mexican vaqueros 1st introduced cattle ranching to West; used the Long Horn
  • Most American cowboys- were former Confederates, Hispanics, & African-American
  • Myth of the West- generated by “Dime Novels”; featured stories about Wyatt Earp , Doc Holiday etc.

The Great Plains

Territorial Growth 1860

The Long Cattle Drives Begin

  • Civil War gave ranchers incentive to herd & raise cattle
  • Introduction of RR’s to the west= transport cattle to the east (1860’s).
  • Rail lines- ended Abilene & Dodge City, Kansas & Sedalia, Miss.
  • After the war= beef prices went up.
  • 1866- 260,000 cattle were “driven” to Sedalia, Miss- 1st “long drive.
  • 1867-1871- Cowboys drove 1.5 million cattle
  • *Chisholm Trail- most popular trail (S. Texas to Abilene, Kansas.)

Major Cattle drive Trails

The Range Wars

  • Some people bought cattle to est. ranches in Wyoming, Montana, & other territories.
  • Sheepherders & farmers moved west also= blocked cattle trails= “range wars
  • Invention of “barbed wire” (Joseph Glidden)– ended the long cattle drives & range wars.
  • 1880’s- oversupply of cattle= less price
  • 1886-1887- blizzards decimated cattle herds
  • Change- herds will be raised on fenced land

Farming & Settlement of the Great Plains

  • Manifest Destiny- idea that God had given the continent to us to take.
  • 1862 Homestead Act- encouraged settlement- “rain follows the plow”
  • Railroad companies sold land along side of track cheap!
  • Challenges of life on the Great Plains
  • First Called the Great American Desert- early explorers
  • less than 20 inches of rain per year
  • few trees- only around water
  • nomadic Indian tribes & buffalo
  • swarms of locusts
  • Heat, cold
  • Prairie fires

Farming the Great Plains-The Wheat Belt

  • Few trees= farmers built home of sod “sod houses”= “sodbusters
  • New farming methods- “dry farming” (plant seeds deep in ground= more moisture)
  • New Farm Technology- plows (steel plow-John Deere), seed drills, steam tractors.
  • McCormick Reaper- Cyrus McCormick
  • Large land owners could afford technology

The Wheat Belt

  • 1880’s – farmers from Mid-West moved to Great Plains
  • Wheat Belt- ideal for growing wheat; eastern edge of Great Plains & extended to Dakotas, Kansas, Nebraska.
  • Some Wheat farms= 50,000 acres (Bonanza Farms)
  • 1880’s –US leading exporter of wheat
  • 1880’s-1890’s- farmers had tough times: drought, competition from Europe, oversupply
  • Farmers borrowed money based on value of land to survive= “mortgaged land

*The Oklahoma Land Rush & The Closing of the Frontier

  • Oklahoma Land Rush (1889)
  • April 22, 1889- US government opened one of the last territories for settlement.
  • In a few hours- 10,000 people raced across to stake a claim.
  • 1890- Census Bureau stated that the frontier was closed; no place left unsettled.
  • Historian *Fredrick Jackson Turner- “Frontier Thesis”; essay about how the frontier shaped American character.
  • Oklahoma Land Rush Photo

Effects of Settlement on the Great Plains (Environment)

  • settlers brought rats, foreign plants/weeds, pests
  • Grizzly Bear & wolf populations decimated
  • 1880’s only 5,000 buffalo remained; out of millions years before.
  • Conflicts with Native American tribes

Native Americans 1865- 1890

The Great Plains Tribes

  • had lived on the Great Plains for centuries
  • were nomadic- traveled distances & followed main food (buffalo).
  • Characteristics
  • Indian nations- divided into Bands ( up to 500 people).
  • Governing Council- headed each Band- most members helped make decisions.
  • Extended Family groups-
  • Believed in spirituality in nature
  • White settlers caused trouble- broke treaties, took land, forced Indians onto reservations.
  • Violence between whites & Indians occurred

*Treaty of Fort Laramie (1851)

  • Sioux, Cheyenne, Arapaho & other tribes make agreement with US
  • US promised ownership of Great Plains to Indians “as long as the river flows and eagle flies”
  • Indians allow US to build roads & RR on their land & promise not to attack Chisholm Trail.

The Dakota Sioux Uprising 1862-Minnesota

  • 1st major clash between US & Indian tribes- Minnesota
  • Dakota Sioux had agreed to live on a reservation in exchange for yearly sum of money (annuities)
  • Payments were infrequent= Dakota Sioux lived in poverty near starvation.
  • 1862- Chief Little Crow asked white traders for food on credit= Whites said no.
  • Dakota Sioux attacked & killed 100’s white settlers
  • 307 Dakota sentenced to death- Lincoln pardoned all but 38.
  • Other Dakota fled the reservation- moved to area (Dakotas)

The Sand Creek Massacre (1864)

  • 1860’s tensions began between gold & silver miners & Cheyenne & Arapaho in Colorado.
  • 1864- Indian attacks= frozen trade routes, homes burned, 200 settlers killed.
  • Territorial Governor- ordered Indians to surrender at Fort Lyons.
  • Nov. 1864- Chief Black Kettle & 100’s of Cheyenne to negotiate a peace
  • Colonel John Chivington & US troops attacked Cheyenne camped along Sand Creek.

Red Cloud’s War 1866-1868

  • Lakota Sioux lived in Dakota territory
  • Land extended from Black Hills to Big Horn Mountains
  • Chiefs Red Cloud, Crazy Horse, & Sitting Bull were leaders
  • 1866-1868- US was building forts along Bozeman Trail
  • Fetterman’s Massacre- Dec. 1866- Crazy Horse lured Captain William Fetterman & 80 soldiers into a fight= all US soldiers killed.
  • 1868- US abandoned attempts to build posts on the Bozeman Trail.

Plans for Peace

  • 1867- Indian Peace Commission- proposed creating 2 large reservations on Great Plains.
  • one for Sioux & one for other Plains Indians
  • Bureau of Indian Affairs- federal government agency; managed the reservations with agents.
  • Reservations-encourage Indians to adopt white ways (assimilation).
  • Doomed to fail- could not ensure that chiefs would abide by treaties, could not prevent settlers from violating treaties, reservations= poverty, corruption, despair.

Treaty of Fort Laramie -1868

  • Sioux Indians agreed to move to a reservation in the Black Hills (Dakotas).
  • ** 1870’s many Indians left reservations on Great Plains
  • ** Preferred to hunt buffalo & nomadic life

The Destruction of the Buffalo

  • Post Civil War– the buffalo were hunted for tongues & hides or sport.
  • Railroad companies hired professional-hunters
  • US Army encouraged killing of buffalo- to keep Indians on reservations.
  • Buffalo Skulls
  • Buffalo Hides-Dodge City

* The Battle of Little Big Horn

  • 1876- gold prospectors flooded into the Black Hills (Dakotas) looking for gold.
  • Lakota Sioux- left the reservation to hunt near Big Horn Mountains, Montana; led by Chief Sitting Bull.
  • US Government sent Lt. Colonel George A. Custer & 7th Calvary to deal with the Lakota.
  • June 1876- Custer launched a 3 pronged attack against a larger Indian force.
  • Custer & 210 men killed- “Custer’s Last Stand
  • Lakota forced back onto reservation, Sitting Bull fled to Canada.
  • Custer’s Last Stand

*Chief Joseph and the Nez Perce

  • Nez Perce- led by Chief Joseph refused to move to a reservation in Idaho in 1877.
  • US Army chased them 1,300 miles
  • Oct. 1877- Chief Joseph & followers surrendered & were sent to Oklahoma reservation.
  • Chief Joseph : “Our chiefs are killed…The little children are freezing to death. My people…have no blankets, no food…Hear me, my chiefs; I am tired; my heart is sick and sad. From where the sun now stands I will fight no more forever”.

*Battle of Wounded Knee (Wounded Knee Massacre)-- 1890

  • Sitting Bull had returned from Canada to the Lakota
  • Lakota Sioux performed a ritual dance (the Ghost Dance)
  • US Government banned the ritual dance- Lakota continued to practice the dance.
  • Police officers attempted to arrest Sitting Bull- fighting occurred- Sitting Bull was Killed.
  • A group of Lakota “Ghost Dancers” fled the reservation
  • Dec. 29, 1890- US troops attacked the men, women, & children camped along Wounded Knee Creek.
  • 200 Lakota Killed; 25 US troops killed
  • Significance- it’s the end of armed Native American resistance
  • Wounded Knee
  • Massacre

American attitudes and the Indians

  • Some Americans opposed harsh treatment of Native Americans.
  • 1881- *Helen Hunt Jackson wrote “A Century of Dishonor”; told about the broken promises & poor treatment of Native Americans.
  • Some Americans encouraged assimilation of Native Americans= reservations= make farmers out of them.

*The Dawes Act 1887

  • Goal of this law was “Assimilation
  • Allotted each Indian head of household 160 acres of reservation land to farm, hunt, fish
  • single adults- 80 acres, children 40 acres
  • land left over= sold to white settlers
  • money left from sale of land to white= fund for Native Americans to teach them English, est.. Schools.
  • 1924 Congress made Native Americans US citizens
  • 1934- Franklin Roosevelt ended forced assimilation= restored Native American lands, gave Indians control.


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