Note that your caricature may not represent the “average” American of that era. Cooper and Irving were describing colorful literary characters. In fact, by the time Irving wrote The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, many Americans were wearing industrially produced (rather than homespun) fabric and clothing.
Native American Policies Leave a “Trail of Tears”
White settlers wanted land and opportunity in America. As settlers moved west, their gains almost always came at the expense of Native Americans. On the frontier, tensions between settlers and natives were a constant source of difficulty for American policymakers. Early American presidents negotiated treaties with various Indian groups. These treaties had four goals: to end hostilities, to promote trade, to acquire land, and to keep tribes allied with the United States—not with European powers.
During George Washington’s presidency, the United States negotiated the Treaty with the Six Nations in 1789. This treaty was supposed to “remove all causes of controversy, regulate trade, and settle boundaries.” Six years later, a second major treaty, the Treaty of Greenville, was signed. This agreement ended a war with Indians in the West and secured some western lands for white settlers.
Native Americans hoped to maintain their hold of other lands. White settlers, however, were hungry for property. By 1805, as many as 100,000 settlers lived in Ohio. Most of them hoped to acquire fertile Indian lands.
President Thomas Jefferson promoted a program to “civilize” Native Americans. Jefferson admired Indians, but he also believed that if they would not join white civilization, they should be moved west of the Mississippi.
Some Native Americans did adopt white ways. The Creek and Cherokee nations built towns and plantations. Some even held slaves. Others rejected the effort to “civilize” them. During the Madison administration, warfare with Indians broke out before and during the War of
1812. Madison signed the Treaty of Ghent to end hostilities not only with the British but also with Indian groups.
As you learned in Chapter 14, Andrew Jackson often ignored treaties with Native Americans. His policy of “forced removal” became a reality under President Van Buren, when more than 17,000 Cherokee were marched about a thousand miles to the west in the winter of 1838–39. They traveled by foot through Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois, Missouri, and Arkansas, into Indian Territory. Several thousand died, many from hunger, disease, and exhaustion. Accounts of the “Trail of Tears” are heartbreaking. Following are portions of several eyewitness reports.
I saw the helpless Cherokees arrested and dragged from their homes, and driven at the bayonet point into the stockades. And in the chill of a drizzling rain on an October morning I saw them loaded like cattle or sheep into six hundred and forty-five wagons and started toward the west…. On the morning of November the 17th we encountered a terrific sleet and snow storm with freezing temperatures and from that day until we reached the end of the fateful journey…the sufferings of the Cherokees were awful. The trail of the exiles was a trail of death. They had to sleep in the wagons and on the ground without fire. And I have known as many as twenty-two of them to die in one night of pneumonia due to ill treatment, cold and exposure...
Private John G. Burnett
Source: The birthday story of Private John G. Burnett, Captain Abraham McClellan’s Company, 2nd Regiment, 2nd Brigade, Mounted Infantry, Cherokee Indian Removal, 1838–39; written to his children on December 11, 1890.
Long time we travel on way to new land. People feel bad when they leave Old Nation. Womens cry and make sad wails. Children cry and many men cry . . . but they say nothing and just put heads down and keep on go towards the West. Many days pass and people die very much. We bury close by Trail.
Unnamed Cherokee survivor of the trail
The sick and feeble were carried in waggons—about as comfortable for traveling as a New England ox cart with a covering over it—a great many ride on horseback and multitudes go on foot—even aged females, apparently nearly ready to drop into the grave, were traveling with heavy burdens attached to the back—on the sometimes frozen ground, and sometimes muddy streets, with no covering for the feet except what nature had given them.
Unnamed white traveler observing the forced march
Source: “The Trail of Tears in the Southeast Missouri Region,” a Web site hosted by Rose City Net.
Some Americans were angered by Jackson’s policy of forced removal of Native Americans from their lands. Take the position of one such American in 1839. Write an editorial for the Washington Times,
Manifest Destiny and the Growing Nation
Investigating Primary Sources
protesting the removal of the Cherokee along the Trail of Tears. Your editorial should
• be addressed “Dear Editor” and dated January 27, 1839.
• describe the physical and emotional hardship along the Trail of Tears.
• use supporting evidence from the chapter readings, including eyewitness reports.
• include a thesis designed to persuade the president to change his policy toward Native Americans.
There were three ways to get to California and Oregon from the eastern United States in the mid-19th century. One way was by ship around Cape Horn at the tip of South America. This journey took several months. It was the longest way to get to California, but often the easiest—if you survived the often stormy, icy, treacherous Cape.
Another way to travel west was also by ship. Travelers took a boat to Panama, crossed the land to the western coast, then boarded another vessel in the Pacific and sailed north. It was the fastest, but also the most dangerous way to go. Diseases were more common on this sea route. The cost of traveling by sea was between $600 and $1200 per person.
The third way to travel west was overland—also a long and dangerous trek. Many people spent months on the trail. Disease (with no doctors) and lack of water were major dangers, as was drowning in river crossings. To counter the perils along the trail, people organized wagon trains. A good variety of occupations and supplies among the members would make the journey more comfortable. Traveling by land was the least expensive way to go. For a family of four, the cost was around $700. This route was the most popular.
Following are excerpts from the letters and papers of four travelers who ventured west.
Around the Horn
We had head winds a great deal of the time, a great many days no wind at all, and sometimes blowing so hard, & the sea so rough we could not sail much. We were 70 days from Boston to Cape Horn and 3 weeks getting round the cape these 3 weeks it was blowing a Gale of wind nearly all the time, & the sea so rough, that the waves were continually washing over the vessel, keeping us wet all the time.
Thomas Boyd Papers of Thomas Boyd 1852–1854 (1852)
Dear Mama, We are nearly around Cape Horn—I was only sea sick one day and Uncle Charlie laughed at me.—I have had two of my teeth pulled—I have sewed five strips of patch work.
One morning, a piece of plank, standing upright on the summit of a grassy hill, attracted our notice, and riding up to it, we found the following words roughly traced upon it, apparently by a red-hot piece of iron: MARY ELLIS DIED MAY 7TH, 1845 AGED TWO MONTHS. Such tokens were of common occurrence…
Francis Parkman The Oregon Trail (1849)
November 18 – My husband is sick. It rains and snows. We start this morning around the falls with our wagons. We have 5 miles to go. I carry my babe and lead, or rather carry, another through the snow, mud and water, almost to my knees. It is the worst road that a team could possibly travel. I went ahead with my children, and I was afraid to look behind me for fear of seeing the wagons turn over into the mud and water with everything in them. My children gave out with cold and fatigue and could not travel, and the boys had to unhitch the oxen and bring them and carry the children on to camp. I was so cold and numb that I could not tell by the feeling that I had any feet at all.
Elizabeth Dixon Smith Greer Journal, 1847–1850
Pretend that you are a traveler making the journey west in the mid- 1800s. You may choose to travel by sea or by land. Write a postcard to a friend describing the journey. Write your message on one side of the postcard and sketch a picture on the other side. Your postcard must have
• a proper salutation and closing.
• a brief overview of the type of journey you are taking (by sea or by land).
• at least two reasons why you did not travel the other way.
• a description of at least one experience you have had on the journey.
• proper spelling and grammar.
• a colorful picture of one thing you have seen on your journey.
Women Meet the Challenge of the West
Women on the frontier had to be resourceful. Their roles were varied and often broke the traditional mold. Some of these roles were born out of necessity, since there was so much to do in settling a new place. Other roles resulted from the opportunities and independence the frontier offered.
In Chapter 16 you read about Annie Bidwell, who settled in California in the 1860s. She took an active role in many social causes in her community. You also read about Biddy Mason, who was brought west as a slave but won her freedom in a California court. Mason found a role in business and real estate, where she made a fortune. She also worked for social change, and spent much of her wealth helping the poor of all races.
Wyoming granted women a role in politics when, before any other state, it gave them the right to vote. In 1924, Wyoming elected Nellie Tayloe Ross the first woman governor in the United States. Ross would spend the rest of her life defending the place of women in politics.
Wherever they went and whatever they did, many women wrote about their lives. Laura Ingalls Wilder settled with her family in Dakota Territory and became a teacher. She later wrote about growing up on the midwestern prairies in the 1870s and 1880s. Her classic “Little House” books bring to life the hardships and simple joys of pioneer life.
Following are excerpts from writings by several pioneer women who are less well known. They speak matter-of-factly about their roles in the West.
One day [in 1891] three men came riding down the road—two of them stopped at our gate, the third one came up to my door. He had a terrible wound on his hand.… I started to wrap it with a clean white cloth when he told me to put something on it so the bandage would not stick.… Bill and May were clinging to my skirts and crying.… He took the grease and rubbed it all over his hand. When I was through bandaging it and started to tie it up, he said, “don’t tie it—I want you to sew it on so it can’t come off”.… I sewed it on good and tight. He thanked me and the three men rode off down the road.
Diana Lucina Spicer Block
Source: “Her Story” as recorded by Devona Bezzant Block, from “Notable Women Ancestors,” a Web site hosted by RootsWeb.
From Sacramento we went up the river by boat to Marysville… and to each of the other new mining camps as they were formed. I sluiced [mined for gold in the streams] many and many a day…. There were no bakeshops in those early days , and I made many an apple pie, just of common dried apples, and sold them for a dollar apiece. The women helped in that way to support the families, for mining was not always a certain means of livelihood.
Mrs. Noble Martin
Source: From “Gold Rush Stories of Women Pioneers,” a Web site hosted by the Museum of the City of San Francisco.
The pioneer Kansas woman shared her husband’s work and interest in the garden, the orchard, the crops and animals of the farm; she worked in the garden and gathered its products. She knew just how each vineyard or tree in the young orchard was coming in. She shared in the hopes for a bountiful crop as the field things sprouted and grew green and tall. Did a horse, dog or other farm animal get badly gored, cut or wounded, hers was the task to cleanse the wound and take the stitches that drew the torn edges together.
Source: From the Lilla Day Monroe Collection of Pioneer Stories, quoted in Joanna L. Stratton, Pioneer Women: Voices from the Kansas Frontier (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1981), page 61.
Mexicano Contributions to the Southwest
Investigating Primary Sources
To better understand the past, historians keep asking questions. In fact, the best historians are usually the ones who ask the best questions. Write at least six questions about the women of the western frontier. Your questions may focus on a single woman, such as Laura Ingalls Wilder, or they may address pioneer women in general. Base at least two of your questions on the passages you just read. Then go to the library or the Internet to find the answers to your questions. Write and edit a research report about a pioneer woman. Your report should be one to two pages long and have
• a clever title
• the answers to your questions
• a page of illustrations or images that show what life was like for women in the West
• a bibliography
The Importance of Great Rivers and the Conflicts over Them
You read in Chapter 17 that Mexicano settlers developed irrigation systems essential to life in the Southwest. Without great rivers like the Colorado, Columbia, Rio Grande, or the Snake, many western areas would not have been habitable. Like Mexicanos, Anglo settlers tapped the great rivers to irrigate their farms and ranches.
As more settlers arrived, conflicts developed over this precious resource. People sometimes resorted to trickery and even violence to gain access to water. Upstream users sometimes cut off the supply of water to those downstream. Called the “water wars,” these conflicts over water rights plagued the West throughout the 19th century. In some places, the conflicts continue today.
People can get downright nasty about water. In the 1800s, cattle ranchers asked cowboys to pose as homesteaders seeking land. Homesteaders were farmers who were given land by the government in return for cultivating it. The cowboys, known as “dummy” homesteaders, filed a claim of ownership on lands with water. When these “dummy” homesteaders were awarded the land, they transferred ownership to the cattle rancher. In this way, cattle ranchers did not have to pay for desirable land.
Even in Utah, where farmers had community irrigation systems, there was still conflict. One man felt he had to sit in the dark near the ditch that provided water for his farm. With a rock in hand, he hid waiting for any neighbor who might try to drop the gate to the ditch before his watering was completed.
John Wesley Powell, a geologist and explorer of the Southwest, suggested to Congress that reforms were needed. In 1878, Powell presented the Report on the Lands of the Arid Region of the United States. He recommended that lawmakers modify land laws to make settlement a more cooperative process. Powell was passionate about water. In 1869, he and a crew of nine men braved the wilds and rapids of the Colorado and Green Rivers. Below is an excerpt from Powell’s book, Canyons of the Colorado. Written in 1895, the book recalls Powell’s first expedition. Would you volunteer to join Powell on a similar expedition?
August 21 – We start early this morning, cheered by the prospect of a fine day and encouraged also by the good run made yesterday. A quarter of a mile below camp the river turns abruptly to the left, and between camp and that point is very swift…. From around this curve there comes a mad roar, and down we are carried with a dizzying velocity to the head of another rapid. On either side high over our heads there are overhanging granite walls, and the sharp bends cut off our view, so that a few minutes will carry us into unknown waters. Away we go on one long, winding chute. I stand on deck, supporting myself with a strap fastened on either side of the gunwale. The boat glides rapidly where the water is smooth, then, striking a wave, she leaps and bounds like a thing of life, and we have a wild, exhilarating ride for ten miles, which we make in less than an hour. The excitement is so great that we forget the danger until we hear the roar of a great fall below; then we back on our oars and are carried slowly toward its head and succeed in landing just above and find that we have to make another portage. At this we are engaged until some time after dinner.
John Wesley Powell, Canyons of the Colorado (1895)
Historians examine the past very carefully to record an accurate record of historical events. But they also want to explain the importance of the past. The following terms help historians do just that.
Short-term effect: effect seen shortly after an event, action, or behavior has occurred
Long-term effect: effect seen long after an event, action, or behavior has occurred
Look back over the entire reading. Record one example for each term listed above. Then write a short paragraph explaining how these six terms help historians study the past.
Women Speak Out for Equal Rights
Many individuals contributed to the growth of the women’s movement in the first half of the 19th century. Four notable examples are Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott, and Margaret Fuller. Below is a brief biographical sketch of each woman, along with an excerpt from her writings. What is each woman’s message?
Susan B. Anthony (1820–1906)
Susan B. Anthony was born in Adams, Massachusetts. As a young woman, her Quaker family encouraged her work in the fight against slavery. She was angry, though, that she was not allowed to speak at any public meetings.
Anthony believed that women would not be able to improve society until they could vote. She dedicated her life to the cause of women’s rights. Working with Elizabeth Cady Stanton, she organized the National Woman Suffrage Association in 1869.
When Anthony tried to vote in 1872, she was arrested and fined $100. Her death in 1906 came before women achieved the right to vote. In 1979, the United States government honored her life’s work by making her the first woman to be featured on an American coin—the Susan B. Anthony silver dollar.
It is said women do not need the ballot for their protection because they are supported by men. Statistics show that there are 3,000,000 women in this nation supporting themselves. In the crowded cities of the East they are compelled [forced by circumstances] to work in shops, stores and factories for the merest pittance [small sum]. In New York alone, there are over 50,000 of these women receiving less than fifty cents a day.
Susan B. Anthony Women Want Bread, Not the Ballot (speech delivered in many cities, 1870–1880)
Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1815–1902)
Born to a wealthy New York family, Elizabeth Cady Stanton had the best education a woman could get at the time. As a young woman, she married an abolitionist. At the World Anti-Slavery Convention in London, Stanton and other women were forced to sit upstairs behind a screen. There she met another delegate, Lucretia Mott, and the two banded together to fight for women’s rights.
Stanton and Mott organized the first women’s rights convention at Seneca Falls, New York, in 1848. Stanton also helped Susan B. Anthony found the National Woman Suffrage Association. Like Anthony, she did not live to see women vote. She died in 1902, nearly two decades before the Nineteenth Amendment (granting women the right to vote) was approved.
If we consider her [woman] as a citizen, as a member of a great nation, she must have the same rights as all other members, according to the fundamental principles of our Government…. The strongest reason why we ask for woman a voice in the government under which she lives; in the religion she is asked to believe; equality in social life, where she is the chief factor; a place in the trades and professions, where she may earn her bread, is because of her birthright to self-sovereignty [self-rule]; because, as an individual, she must rely on herself.
Elizabeth Cady Stanton Solitude of Self (1892)
Lucretia Mott (1793–1880)
Lucretia Mott was born in Nantucket, Massachusetts. As a child she attended a coeducational Quaker school. In adulthood, she worked with her husband in the abolitionist movement. She refused to buy cotton cloth or cane sugar, products that were made by slave labor.
Like Stanton, Mott realized the need to work for women’s rights when she was prevented from participating in the World Anti-Slavery Convention in London. She helped Stanton organize the convention at Seneca Falls in 1848. She spent her life speaking on topics of social reform: abolition, women’s rights, temperance, and world peace. In 1866 Mott became the first president of the Equal Rights Association, a group committed to African-American and woman suffrage. She was active in such causes up to the time of her death at age 87.
Thou wilt [will] have hard work to prove the intellectual equality
of Woman with man—facts are so against such an assumption, in the present stage of woman’s development. We need not however admit inferiority, even tho’ we may not be able to prove equality.
Lucretia Mott Letter to Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1855)
Margaret Fuller (1810–1850)
Margaret Fuller was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She could not attend Harvard, which was at that time a school for men only. But she was well educated in classic and modern literature by her father. Fuller became one of the first professional women journalists in America. She wrote mostly about social issues, such as the treatment of women prisoners and the insane. In her most important work, Woman in the Nineteenth Century (1845), she discussed the unequal treatment of women and offered suggestions for improvement. Fuller was only 40 when she died tragically in a shipwreck.
It should be remarked that, as the principle of liberty is better under-stood, and more nobly interpreted, a broader protest is made in behalf of Woman. As men become aware that few men have had a fair chance, they are inclined to say that no women have had a fair chance.… What Woman needs is not as a woman to act or rule, but as a nature to grow, as an intellect to discern [figure out], as a soul to live freely and unimpeded [not controlled], to unfold such powers as were given her when we left our common home.
Margaret Fuller Woman in the Nineteenth Century (1845)
Write a eulogy for one of these four women’s rights leaders: Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott, or Margaret Fuller. Your eulogy should
• include important biographical details in the life of the chosen individual.
• summarize her significant contributions to the women’s rights movement.
• include brief quotation from her writing and a one- to two-sentence interpretation of what you think the quote means.