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The Wild West was a fascinating time and place in American history. The American west featured all sorts of people from pioneers and scouts to lawmen, outlaws, gangs and gunfighters gunslingers , to the American cowboy, and legendary pioneering women on the frontier.
Learn interesting western facts about inventions like barbed wire and denim blue jeans. Explore the life of the Cowboys who spent up to four straight months in the saddle, often in the same clothes every day.
He ate every meal at the chuck wagon, drinking nothing but coffee and water. You can read about American Indian dances and spirituality and religious practices plus enjoy authentic native recipes.
Saloons served such customers as fur trappers, cowboys, soldiers, gold prospectors and miners and gamblers. In the southern settlements via the Cumberland Gap , their most famous leader was Daniel Boone ,  Young George Washington promoted settlements in West Virginia on lands awarded to him and his soldiers by the Royal government in payment for their wartime service in Virginia's militia.
West of the mountains, settlements were curtailed briefly by the Royal Proclamation of , which forbade settlement west of the Appalachians.
However the Treaty of Fort Stanwix re-opened most of the western lands for frontiersmen to settle. The nation was at peace after The states gave Congress control of the western lands and an effective system for population expansion was developed.
The Northwest Ordinance of abolished slavery in the area north of the Ohio River and promised statehood when a territory reached a threshold population, as Ohio did in The first major movement west of the Appalachian mountains originated in Pennsylvania, Virginia, and North Carolina as soon as the Revolutionary War ended in Pioneers housed themselves in a rough lean-to or at most a one-room log cabin.
The main food supply at first came from hunting deer, turkeys, and other abundant game. Clad in typical frontier garb, leather breeches, moccasins, fur cap, and hunting shirt, and girded by a belt from which hung a hunting knife and a shot pouch—all homemade—the pioneer presented a unique appearance.
In a short time he opened in the woods a patch, or clearing, on which he grew corn, wheat, flax, tobacco, and other products, even fruit. In a few years, the pioneer added hogs, sheep, and cattle, and perhaps acquired a horse.
Homespun clothing replaced the animal skins. The land policy of the new nation was conservative, paying special attention to the needs of the settled East.
By the s, however, the West was filling up with squatters who had no legal deed, although they may have paid money to previous settlers.
The Jacksonian Democrats favored the squatters by promising rapid access to cheap land. By contrast, Henry Clay was alarmed at the "lawless rabble" heading West who were undermining the utopian concept of a law-abiding, stable middle-class republican community.
Rich southerners, meanwhile, looked for opportunities to buy high-quality land to set up slave plantations.
After winning the Revolutionary War , American settlers in large numbers poured into the west. In , American pioneers to the Northwest Territory established Marietta, Ohio , as the first permanent American settlement in the Northwest Territory.
It was later lengthened to reach the Falls of the Ohio at Louisville. The Wilderness Road was steep and rough, and it could only be traversed on foot or horseback, but it was the best route for thousands of settlers moving into Kentucky.
In alone, Indians killed over travelers on the Wilderness Road. Kentucky at this time had been depopulated—it was "empty of Indian villages.
One of those intercepted was Abraham Lincoln 's grandfather, who was scalped in near Louisville. The War of marked the final confrontation involving major British and Indian forces fighting to stop American expansion.
The British war goal included the creation of an independent Indian state under British auspices in the Midwest. The death in battle of the Indian leader Tecumseh dissolved the coalition of hostile Indian tribes.
In general, the frontiersmen battled the Indians with little help from the U. Army or the federal government.
To end the War of American diplomats negotiated the Treaty of Ghent , signed towards the end of , with Britain. They rejected the British plan to set up an Indian state in U.
They explained the American policy toward the acquisition of Indian lands:. The United States, while intending never to acquire lands from the Indians otherwise than peaceably, and with their free consent, are fully determined, in that manner, progressively, and in proportion as their growing population may require, to reclaim from the state of nature, and to bring into cultivation every portion of the territory contained within their acknowledged boundaries.
In thus providing for the support of millions of civilized beings, they will not violate any dictate of justice or humanity; for they will not only give to the few thousand savages scattered over that territory an ample equivalent for any right they may surrender, but will always leave them the possession of lands more than they can cultivate, and more than adequate to their subsistence, comfort, and enjoyment, by cultivation.
If this is a spirit of aggrandizement, the undersigned are prepared to admit, in that sense, its existence; but they must deny that it affords the slightest proof of an intention not to respect the boundaries between them and European nations, or of a desire to encroach upon the territories of Great Britain.
As settlers poured in, the frontier districts first became territories, with an elected legislature and a governor appointed by the president.
Then when the population reached , the territory applied for statehood. In the western frontier had reached the Mississippi River.
Louis, Missouri , was the largest town on the frontier, the gateway for travel westward, and a principal trading center for Mississippi River traffic and inland commerce but remained under Spanish control until Thomas Jefferson thought of himself as a man of the frontier and was keenly interested in expanding and exploring the West.
France was paid for its sovereignty over the territory in terms of international law. Between and the s, the federal government purchased the actual land from the Indian tribes then in possession of it.
Additional sums were paid to the Indians living east of the Mississippi for their lands, as well as payments to Indians living in parts of the west outside the Louisiana Purchase.
Even before the purchase, Jefferson was planning expeditions to explore and map the lands. He charged Lewis and Clark to "explore the Missouri River, and such principal stream of it, as, by its course and communication with the waters of the Pacific Ocean; whether the Columbia, Oregon, Colorado, or any other river may offer the most direct and practicable communication across the continent for commerce".
Entrepreneurs, most notably John Jacob Astor quickly seized the opportunity and expanded fur trading operations into the Pacific Northwest.
Astor's " Fort Astoria " later Fort George , at the mouth of the Columbia River, became the first permanent white settlement in that area, although it was not profitable for Astor.
He set up the American Fur Company in an attempt to break the hold that the Hudson's Bay Company monopoly had over the region. By , Astor had taken over independent traders to create a profitable monopoly; he left the business as a multi-millionaire in As the frontier moved west, trappers and hunters moved ahead of settlers, searching out new supplies of beaver and other skins for shipment to Europe.
The hunters were the first Europeans in much of the Old West and they formed the first working relationships with the Native Americans in the West.
Discovered about , it later became a major route for settlers to Oregon and Washington. By , however, a new "brigade-rendezvous" system sent company men in "brigades" cross-country on long expeditions, bypassing many tribes.
It also encouraged "free trappers" to explore new regions on their own. At the end of the gathering season, the trappers would "rendezvous" and turn in their goods for pay at river ports along the Green River , Upper Missouri, and the Upper Mississippi.
Louis was the largest of the rendezvous towns. By , however, fashions changed and beaver hats were replaced by silk hats, ending the demand for expensive American furs.
The trade-in beaver fur virtually ceased by There was wide agreement on the need to settle the new territories quickly, but the debate polarized over the price the government should charge.
The conservatives and Whigs, typified by the president John Quincy Adams , wanted a moderated pace that charged the newcomers enough to pay the costs of the federal government.
The Democrats, however, tolerated a wild scramble for land at very low prices. The final resolution came in the Homestead Law of , with a moderated pace that gave settlers acres free after they worked on it for five years.
The private profit motive dominated the movement westward,  but the Federal Government played a supporting role in securing the land through treaties and setting up territorial governments, with governors appointed by the President.
The federal government first acquired western territory through treaties with other nations or native tribes. Then it sent surveyors to map and document the land.
Transportation was a key issue and the Army especially the Army Corps of Engineers was given full responsibility for facilitating navigation on the rivers.
The steamboat, first used on the Ohio River in , made possible inexpensive travel using the river systems, especially the Mississippi and Missouri rivers and their tributaries.
For example, the Army's steamboat "Western Engineer" of combined a very shallow draft with one of the earliest stern wheels.
In —25, Colonel Henry Atkinson developed keelboats with hand-powered paddle wheels. The federal postal system played a crucial role in national expansion.
It facilitated expansion into the West by creating an inexpensive, fast, convenient communication system. Letters from early settlers provided information and boosterism to encourage increased migration to the West, helped scattered families stay in touch and provide neutral help, assisted entrepreneurs to find business opportunities, and made possible regular commercial relationships between merchants and the West and wholesalers and factories back east.
The postal service likewise assisted the Army in expanding control over the vast western territories. The widespread circulation of important newspapers by mail, such as the New York Weekly Tribune , facilitated coordination among politicians in different states.
The postal service helped to integrate already established areas with the frontier, creating a spirit of nationalism and providing a necessary infrastructure.
The army early on assumed the mission of protecting settlers along with the Westward Expansion Trails , a policy that was described by Secretary of War John B.
Floyd in . There was a debate at the time about the best size for the forts with Jefferson Davis , Winfield Scott , and Thomas Jesup supporting forts that were larger but fewer in number than Floyd.
Floyd's plan was more expensive but had the support of settlers and the general public who preferred that the military remain as close as possible.
The frontier area was vast and even Davis conceded that "concentration would have exposed portions of the frontier to Indian hostilities without any protection.
Government and private enterprise sent many explorers to the West. In —, Army lieutenant Zebulon Pike — led a party of 20 soldiers to find the headwaters of the Mississippi.
On his return, Pike sighted the peak in Colorado named after him. In , naturalists Thomas Nuttall — and John Bradbury — traveled up the Missouri River documenting and drawing plant and animal life.
Swiss artist Karl Bodmer made compelling landscapes and portraits. He displayed a talent for exploration and a genius at self-promotion that gave him the sobriquet of "Pathmarker of the West" and led him to the presidential nomination of the new Republican Party in He crossed through the Rocky Mountains by five different routes and mapped parts of Oregon and California.
In —, he played a role in conquering California. It caught the public imagination and inspired many to head west. Goetzman says it was "monumental in its breadth, a classic of exploring literature".
While colleges were springing up across the Northeast, there was little competition on the western frontier for Transylvania University , founded in Lexington, Kentucky, in It boasted of a law school in addition to its undergraduate and medical programs.
Transylvania attracted politically ambitious young men from across the Southwest, including 50 who became United States senators, representatives, 36 governors, and 34 ambassadors, as well as Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederacy.
The established Eastern churches were slow to meet the needs of the frontier. The Presbyterians and Congregationalists, since they depended on well-educated ministers, were shorthanded in evangelizing the frontier.
They set up a Plan of Union of to combine resources on the frontier. The local pioneers responded enthusiastically to these events and, in effect, evolved their populist religions, especially during the Second Great Awakening — , which featured outdoor camp meetings lasting a week or more and which introduced many people to organized religion for the first time.
One of the largest and most famous camp meetings took place at Cane Ridge, Kentucky , in The local Baptists set up small independent churches—Baptists abjured centralized authority; each local church was founded on the principle of independence of the local congregation.
On the other hand, bishops of the well-organized, centralized Methodists assigned circuit riders to specific areas for several years at a time, then moved them to fresh territory.
Several new denominations were formed, of which the largest was the Disciples of Christ. Historian Mark Wyman calls Wisconsin a "palimpsest" of layer upon layer of peoples and forces, each imprinting permanent influences.
He identified these layers as multiple "frontiers" over three centuries: Native American frontier, French frontier, English frontier, fur-trade frontier, mining frontier, and the logging frontier.
Finally, the coming of the railroad brought the end of the frontier. Frederick Jackson Turner grew up in Wisconsin during its last frontier stage, and in his travels around the state, he could see the layers of social and political development.
One of Turner's last students, Merle Curti used an in-depth analysis of local Wisconsin history to test Turner's thesis about democracy.
Turner's view was that American democracy, "involved widespread participation in the making of decisions affecting the common life, the development of initiative and self-reliance, and equality of economic and cultural opportunity.
It thus also involved Americanization of immigrant. He found that even landless young farmworkers were soon able to obtain their farms.
Free land on the frontier, therefore, created opportunity and democracy, for both European immigrants as well as old stock Yankees.
From the s to the s, pioneers moved into the new lands that stretched from Kentucky to Alabama to Texas.
Most were farmers who moved in family groups. Historian Louis Hacker shows how wasteful the first generation of pioneers was; they were too ignorant to cultivate the land properly and when the natural fertility of virgin land was used up, they sold out and moved west to try again.
Hacker describes that in Kentucky about Farms were for sale with from ten to fifty acres cleared, possessing log houses, peach and sometimes apple orchards, enclosed in fences, and having plenty of standing timber for fuel.
The land was sown in wheat and corn, which were the staples, while hemp [for making rope] was being cultivated in increasing quantities in the fertile river bottoms Yet, on the whole, it was an agricultural society without skill or resources.
It committed all those sins which characterize wasteful and ignorant husbandry. Grass seed was not sown for hay and as a result, the farm animals had to forage for themselves in the forests; the fields were not permitted to lie in pasturage; a single crop was planted in the soil until the land was exhausted; the manure was not returned to the fields; only a small part of the farm was brought under cultivation, the rest being permitted to stand in timber.
Instruments of cultivation were rude and clumsy and only too few, many of them being made on the farm. It is plain why the American frontier settler was on the move continually.
It was, not his fear of too close contact with the comforts and restraints of a civilized society that stirred him into a ceaseless activity, nor merely the chance of selling out at a profit to the coming wave of settlers; it was his wasting land that drove him on.
Hunger was the goad. The pioneer farmer's ignorance, his inadequate facilities for cultivation, his limited means, of transport necessitated his frequent changes of scene.
He could succeed only with virgin soil. Hacker adds that the second wave of settlers reclaimed the land, repaired the damage, and practiced more sustainable agriculture.
Historian Frederick Jackson Turner explored the individualistic worldview and values of the first generation:.
What they objected to was arbitrary obstacles, artificial limitations upon the freedom of each member of this frontier folk to work out his career without fear or favor.
What they instinctively opposed was the crystallization of differences, the monopolization of opportunity, and the fixing of that monopoly by government or by social customs.
The road must be open. The game must be played according to the rules. There must be no artificial stifling of equality of opportunity, no closed doors to the able, no stopping the free game before it was played to the end.
Manifest Destiny was the belief that the United States was preordained to expand from the Atlantic coast to the Pacific coast.
The concept was expressed during Colonial times, but the term was coined in the s by a popular magazine which editorialized, "the fulfillment of our manifest destiny In the s the Tyler and Polk administrations —49 successfully promoted this nationalistic doctrine.
However, the Whig Party , which represented business and financial interests, stood opposed to Manifest Destiny. Whig leaders such as Henry Clay and Abraham Lincoln called for deepening the society through modernization and urbanization instead of simple horizontal- expansion.
John Quincy Adams , an anti-slavery Whig, felt the Texas annexation in to be "the heaviest calamity that ever befell myself and my country".
Mexico became independent of Spain in and took over Spain's northern possessions stretching from Texas to California. Santa Fe was also the trailhead for the "El Camino Real" the King's Highway , a trade route which carried American manufactured goods southward deep into Mexico and returned silver, furries, and mules northward not to be confused with another "Camino Real" which connected the missions in California.
The Spanish and Mexican governments attracted American settlers to Texas with generous terms. Stephen F.
Austin became an "empresario", receiving contracts from the Mexican officials to bring in immigrants. In doing so, he also became the de facto political and military commander of the area.
Tensions rose, however, after an abortive attempt to establish the independent nation of Fredonia in William Travis , leading the "war party", advocated for independence from Mexico, while the "peace party" led by Austin attempted to get more autonomy within the current relationship.
When Mexican president Santa Anna shifted alliances and joined the conservative Centralist party, he declared himself dictator and ordered soldiers into Texas to curtail new immigration and unrest.
However, immigration continued and 30, Anglos with 3, slaves were settled in Texas by Remember Goliad".
The U. Congress declined to annex Texas, stalemated by contentious arguments over slavery and regional power. Thus, the Republic of Texas remained an independent power for nearly a decade before it was annexed as the 28th state in The government of Mexico, however, viewed Texas as a runaway province and asserted its ownership.
Mexico refused to recognize the independence of Texas in , but the U. Mexico threatened war if Texas joined the U. American negotiators were turned away by a Mexican government in turmoil.
When the Mexican army killed 16 American soldiers in disputed territory war was at hand. Whigs , such as Congressman Abraham Lincoln denounced the war, but it was quite popular outside New England.
The Mexican strategy was defensive; the American strategy was a three-pronged offensive, using large numbers of volunteer soldiers. From the main American base at New Orleans, General Zachary Taylor led forces into northern Mexico, winning a series of battles that ensued.
Navy transported General Winfield Scott to Veracruz. He then marched his 12,man force west to Mexico City, winning the final battle at Chapultepec.
Talk of acquiring all of Mexico fell away when the army discovered the Mexican political and cultural values were so alien to America's. As the Cincinnati Herald asked, what would the U.
The Gadsden Purchase in added southern Arizona, which was needed for a railroad route to California. In all Mexico ceded half a million square miles 1.
Managing the new territories and dealing with the slavery issue caused intense controversy, particularly over the Wilmot Proviso , which would have outlawed slavery in the new territories.
Congress never passed it, but rather temporarily resolved the issue of slavery in the West with the Compromise of California entered the Union in as a free state; the other areas remained territories for many years.
The new state grew rapidly as migrants poured into the fertile cotton lands of east Texas. The central area of the state was developed more by subsistence farmers who seldom owned slaves.
Texas in its Wild West days attracted men who could shoot straight and possessed the zest for adventure, "for masculine renown, patriotic service, martial glory, and meaningful deaths".
In about 10, Californios Hispanics lived in California, primarily on cattle ranches in what is now the Los Angeles area.
A few hundred foreigners were scattered in the northern districts, including some Americans. With the outbreak of war with Mexico in the U.
Army unit, as well as naval forces, and quickly took control. Thousands of "Forty-Niners" reached California, by sailing around South America or taking a short-cut through disease-ridden Panama , or walked the California trail.
The population soared to over , in , mostly in the gold districts that stretched into the mountains east of San Francisco. Housing in San Francisco was at a premium, and abandoned ships whose crews had headed for the mines were often converted to temporary lodging.
In the goldfields themselves, living conditions were primitive, though the mild climate proved attractive. Supplies were expensive and food poor, typical diets consisting mostly of pork, beans, and whiskey.
These highly male, transient communities with no established institutions were prone to high levels of violence, drunkenness, profanity, and greed-driven behavior.
Without courts or law officers in the mining communities to enforce claims and justice, miners developed their ad hoc legal system, based on the "mining codes" used in other mining communities abroad.
Each camp had its own rules and often handed out justice by popular vote, sometimes acting fairly and at times exercising vigilantes; with Indians, Mexicans, and Chinese generally receiving the harshest sentences.
The gold rush radically changed the California economy and brought in an array of professionals, including precious metal specialists, merchants, doctors, and attorneys, who added to the population of miners, saloon keepers, gamblers, and prostitutes.
A San Francisco newspaper stated, "The whole country Violent bandits often preyed upon the miners, such as the case of Jonathan R.
Davis ' killing of eleven bandits single-handedly. In a few years, nearly all of the independent miners were displaced as mines were purchased and run by mining companies, who then hired low-paid salaried miners.
As gold became harder to find and more difficult to extract, individual prospectors gave way to paid work gangs, specialized skills, and mining machinery.
Bigger mines, however, caused greater environmental damage. In the mountains, shaft mining predominated, producing large amounts of waste.
Beginning in , at the end of the '49 gold rush, through , hydraulic mining was used. Despite huge profits being made, it fell into the hands of a few capitalists, displaced numerous miners, vast amounts of waste entered river systems, and did heavy ecological damage to the environment.
Hydraulic mining ended when the public outcry over the destruction of farmlands led to the outlawing of this practice. The mountainous areas of the triangle from New Mexico to California to South Dakota contained hundreds of hard rock mining sites, where prospectors discovered gold, silver, copper and other minerals as well as some soft-rock coal.
Temporary mining camps sprang up overnight; most became ghost towns when the ores were depleted. Prospectors spread out and hunted for gold and silver along the Rockies and in the southwest.
The wealth from silver, more than from gold, fueled the maturation of San Francisco in the s and helped the rise of some of its wealthiest families, such as that of George Hearst.
They moved in large groups under an experienced wagonmaster, bringing their clothing, farm supplies, weapons, and animals. These wagon trains followed major rivers, crossed prairies and mountains, and typically ended in Oregon and California.
Pioneers generally attempted to complete the journey during a single warm season, usually for six months. By , when the first migrant wagon train was organized in Independence, Missouri , a wagon trail had been cleared to Fort Hall, Idaho.
Trails were cleared further and further west, eventually reaching to the Willamette Valley in Oregon. This network of wagon trails leading to the Pacific Northwest was later called the Oregon Trail.
The eastern half of the route was also used by travelers on the California Trail from , Mormon Trail from , and Bozeman Trail from before they turned off to their separate destinations.
In the "Wagon Train of ", some to 1, emigrants headed for Oregon; missionary Marcus Whitman led the wagons on the last leg. Some did so because they were discouraged and defeated.
Some returned with bags of gold and silver. Most were returning to pick up their families and move them all back west.
These "gobacks" were a major source of information and excitement about the wonders and promises—and dangers and disappointments—of the far West.
Not all emigrants made it to their destination. The dangers of the overland route were numerous: snakebites, wagon accidents, violence from other travelers, suicide, malnutrition, stampedes, Indian attacks, a variety of diseases dysentery , typhoid , and cholera were among the most common , exposure, avalanches, etc.
One particularly well-known example of the treacherous nature of the journey is the story of the ill-fated Donner Party , which became trapped in the Sierra Nevada mountains during the winter of — in which nearly half of the 90 people traveling with the group died from starvation and exposure, and some resorted to cannibalism to survive.
There were also frequent attacks from bandits and highwaymen , such as the infamous Harpe brothers who patrolled the frontier routes and targeted migrant groups.
In Missouri and Illinois, animosity between the Mormon settlers and locals grew, which would mirror those in other states such as Utah years later.
Violence finally erupted on October 24, , when militias from both sides clashed and a mass killing of Mormons in Livingston County occurred 6 days later.
A hundred rural Mormon settlements sprang up in what Young called " Deseret ", which he ruled as a theocracy. It later became Utah Territory. Young's Salt Lake City settlement served as the hub of their network, which reached into neighboring territories as well.
The communalism and advanced farming practices of the Mormons enabled them to succeed. The great threat to the Mormons in Utah was the U.
The Republican Party swore to destroy polygamy, which it saw as an affront to religious, cultural, and moral values of modern civilization.
Confrontations verged on open warfare in the late s as President Buchanan sent in troops. Although there were no military battles fought, and negotiations led to a stand down, violence still escalated and there were several casualties.
Finally, in , the Church leadership announced polygamy was no longer a central tenet, and a compromise was reached, with Utah becoming a state and the Mormons dividing into Republicans and Democrats.
The federal government provided subsidies for the development of mail and freight delivery, and by , Congress authorized road improvements and an overland mail service to California.
The new commercial wagon trains service primarily hauled freight. In John Butterfield —69 established a stage service that went from Saint Louis to San Francisco in 24 days along a southern route.
William Russell, hoping to get a government contract for more rapid mail delivery service, started the Pony Express in , cutting delivery time to ten days.
In Congress passed the Land-Grant Telegraph Act which financed the construction of Western Union's transcontinental telegraph lines.
Hiram Sibley , Western Union's head, negotiated exclusive agreements with railroads to run telegraph lines along their right-of-way.
Eight years before the transcontinental railroad opened, the First Transcontinental Telegraph linked Omaha, Nebraska, to San Francisco on October 24, Constitutionally, Congress could not deal with slavery in the states but it did have jurisdiction in the western territories.
California unanimously rejected slavery in and became a free state. New Mexico allowed slavery, but it was rarely seen there. Kansas was off-limits to slavery by the Compromise of Free Soil elements feared that if slavery were allowed rich planters would buy up the best lands and work them with gangs of slaves, leaving little opportunity for free white men to own farms.
Few Southern planters were interested in Kansas, but the idea that slavery was illegal there implied they had a second-class status that was intolerable to their sense of honor, and seemed to violate the principle of state's rights.
With the passage of the extremely controversial Kansas—Nebraska Act in , Congress left the decision up to the voters on the ground in Kansas.
Across the North, a new major party was formed to fight slavery: the Republican Party , with numerous westerners in leadership positions, most notably Abraham Lincoln of Illinois.
To influence the territorial decision, anti-slavery elements also called "Jayhawkers" or "Free-soilers" financed the migration of politically determined settlers.
But pro-slavery advocates fought back with pro-slavery settlers from Missouri. The antislavery forces took over by , as Kansas became a free state.
The episode demonstrated that a democratic compromise between North and South over slavery was impossible and served to hasten the Civil War.
Despite its large territory, the trans-Mississippi West had a small population and its wartime story has to a large extent been underplayed in the historiography of the American Civil War.
The Confederacy engaged in several important campaigns in the West. However, Kansas, a major area of conflict building up to the war, was the scene of only one battle, at Mine Creek.
But its proximity to Confederate lines enabled pro-Confederate guerrillas, such as Quantrill's Raiders , to attack Union strongholds and massacre the residents.
In Texas, citizens voted to join the Confederacy; anti-war Germans were hanged. Confederate Arizona was created by Arizona citizens who wanted protection against Apache raids after the United States Army units were moved out.
The Confederacy then sets its sight to gain control of the New Mexico Territory. General Henry Hopkins Sibley was tasked for the campaign, and together with his New Mexico Army , marched right up the Rio Grande in an attempt to take the mineral wealth of Colorado as well as California.
The First Regiment of Volunteers discovered the rebels, and they immediately warned and joined the Yankees at Fort Union. The Battle of Glorieta Pass soon erupted, and the Union ended the Confederate campaign and the area west of Texas remained in Union hands.
Missouri , a Union state where slavery was legal, became a battleground when the pro-secession governor, against the vote of the legislature, led troops to the federal arsenal at St.
Louis ; he was aided by Confederate forces from Arkansas and Louisiana. Louis and all of Missouri for the Union.
The state was the scene of numerous raids and guerrilla warfare in the west. Army after established a series of military posts across the frontier, designed to stop warfare among Indian tribes or between Indians and settlers.
Throughout the 19th century, Army officers typically served built their careers in peacekeeper roles moving from fort to fort until retirement.
Actual combat experience was uncommon for any one soldier. The most dramatic conflict was the Sioux war in Minnesota in when Dakota tribes systematically attacked German farms to drive out the settlers.
The state militia fought back and Lincoln sent in federal troops. The federal government tried Indians for murder, and were convicted and sentenced to death.
Lincoln pardoned the majority, but 38 leaders were hanged. The decreased presence of Union troops in the West left behind untrained militias; hostile tribes used the opportunity to attack settlers.
The militia struck back hard, most notably by attacking the winter quarters of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Indians, filled with women and children, at the Sand Creek massacre in eastern Colorado in late Kit Carson and the U.
Army in trapped the entire Navajo tribe in New Mexico, where they had been raiding settlers and put them on a reservation. The result by was millions of new farms in the Plains states, many operated by new immigrants from Germany and Scandinavia.
With the war over and slavery abolished, the federal government focused on improving the governance of the territories.
It subdivided several territories, preparing them for statehood, following the precedents set by the Northwest Ordinance of It standardized procedures and the supervision of territorial governments, taking away some local powers, and imposing much "red tape", growing the federal bureaucracy significantly.
Federal involvement in the territories was considerable. In addition to direct subsidies, the federal government maintained military posts, provided safety from Indian attacks, bankrolled treaty obligations, conducted surveys and land sales, built roads, staffed land offices, made harbor improvements, and subsidized overland mail delivery.
Territorial citizens came to both decry federal power and local corruption, and at the same time, lament that more federal dollars were not sent their way.
Territorial governors were political appointees and beholden to Washington so they usually governed with a light hand, allowing the legislatures to deal with the local issues.
In addition to his role as civil governor, a territorial governor was also a militia commander, a local superintendent of Indian affairs, and the state liaison with federal agencies.
The legislatures, on the other hand, spoke for the local citizens and they were given considerable leeway by the federal government to make local law.
These improvements to governance still left plenty of room for profiteering. As Mark Twain wrote while working for his brother, the secretary of Nevada, "The government of my country snubs honest simplicity but fondles artistic villainy, and I think I might have developed into a very capable pickpocket if I had remained in the public service a year or two.
In acquiring, preparing, and distributing public land to private ownership, the federal government generally followed the system set forth by the Land Ordinance of Federal exploration and scientific teams would undertake reconnaissance of the land and determine Native American habitation.
Through treaties, the land titles would be ceded by the resident tribes. Townships would be formed from the lots and sold at public auction. As part of public policy, the government would award public land to certain groups such as veterans, through the use of "land script".
As a counter to land speculators, farmers formed "claims clubs" to enable them to buy larger tracts than the acre 0. In , Congress passed three important bills that transformed the land system.
The Homestead Act granted acres 0. The only cost was a modest filing fee. The law was especially important in the settling of the Plains states.
Many took a free homestead and others purchased their land from railroads at low rates. The Pacific Railroad Act of provided for the land needed to build the transcontinental railroad.
The land was given the railroads alternated with government-owned tracts saved for free distribution to homesteaders.
Railroads had up to five years to sell or mortgage their land, after tracks were laid, after which unsold land could be purchased by anyone.
Often railroads sold some of their government acquired land to homesteaders immediately to encourage settlement and the growth of markets the railroads would then be able to serve.
Nebraska railroads in the s were strong boosters of lands along their routes. They sent agents to Germany and Scandinavia with package deals that included cheap transportation for the family as well as its furniture and farm tools, and they offered long-term credit at low rates.
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As one not familiar with the original series, I cannot say what justice, or lack of justice, this homage does to its source. Straight Westerns being hopelessly out of fashion, especially for a special effects-driven summertime extravaganza, the filmmakers obviously felt that what was needed was a tongue-in-cheek approach to the material, resulting in a bizarre, but completely unfunny amalgam of fantasy and science-fiction gilded onto a Western format.
The disparate styles simply fight against each other, leaving no one in the audience - neither Western nor science-fiction fans - satisfied.
The alleged plot involves the attempts by James West Will Smith and Artemis Gordon Kevin Kline to foil an evil Confederate inventor's plan to kidnap all the world's most brilliant scientists and, ultimately, terrorize the Union and President Grant into submission.
This he attempts to do by creating a giant mechanized spider which is, obviously, a last ditch, desperate attempt on the part of the filmmakers to fulfill the seemingly insatiable demands of the modern audience to be dazzled by impressive special effects, no matter how inappropriate they appear in context.
Here, though, the miscalculation is fatal because even the audience is wise enough to know when it is being had.
Incidentally, even some of the expensive special effects come across as surprisingly crude, especially many of the shots utilizing rear-screen projection.
Hence, this film strikes out even in the one ballpark in which it might have stood a chance of emerging victorious. Sign In. Keep track of everything you watch; tell your friends.
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