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Settlement of the American West

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The frontier was mainly a wild place until men went looking for gold and land, justifying their radical and violent attempts to gain land by what they believed to be Manifest Destiny. What whites discovered as they moved west were tribes of Indians settled on what they claimed as “their” land. This want for land was driven by the second Industrial Revolution, prompting the removal of Indians and war to commence.

The second Industrial Revolution pioneered an expansion in organization, coordination, and the scale of industry, sparked by technology and transportation advancements.

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This revolution was a time of technological advancement and the whites believed that the only way America could prosper was a united effort to remove the savages, Indians, roaming ‘their’ land. They started relocation projects to move the Indians off of valuable land, sometimes resorting to violence to get the job done.

This made way for reservations to be set up all over the west, where Indians were required to live providing them with food and supplies until they could support themselves.

Whites saw transportation as the key to economic growth; they knew people wanted to buy the goods, but inefficient transportation hindered sales. With the First Transcontinental Railroad businessmen could now reach previously remote areas of land, and this growth boosted opportunities for farmers in the region.

People now viewed the west as a new beginning full of adventures and wealth. They climbed aboard the trains for a journey that would’ve usually taken months by wagon. This population shift caused the west to be settled by families that planned on staying in the new country and equipped with the necessary supplies to build a new life in this unfamiliar land. In this era a dramatic expansion in farming took place, the number of farms in America tripled from two million in 1860 to six million in 1905.

Land was being given out or sold in the West as fast as people could hop on the trains, under the Homestead Act of 1862 the government issued 160 acre plots to families and even more land was purchased at low interest rates from new railroads who were trying to create markets. As the railroads were advertised as far away as Europe, at a low fare they brought over hundreds of thousands of farmers from Germany, Scandinavia and Britain. As the number of railroads out to the West grew, so did the settlers willing to move, because the farther west the pioneers went the more dependant they became on the monopolistic railroads for transportation.

The second industrial revolution brought about many changes to America, but the growth in connectivity and technology made it possible for people to move to the West to start new lives and prosper in the unfamiliar land. Growths in industry pushed businesses west for more land, plus with advancements such as the telegraph and telephone it made it possible for businesses to stay connected over large areas. This period in time was seen as a chance to expand in all areas of American life slowly closing off the frontier and allowing cities to be settled by eager families.

Cite this Settlement of the American West

Settlement of the American West. (2017, Mar 14). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/settlement-of-the-american-west/

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