U.S. HISTORY UNIT 1 – THE GILDED AGE Section 1: The Gilded AgeTHE GILDED AGE – In 1873, Mark Twain co-wrote a novel entitled The Gilded Age. Historians later adopted theterm and applied it to the period of time in U.S. history between 1870 to around 1900. Something that is gilded iscovered with gold on the outside, but underneath the surface is cheap metal. It was known as the Gilded Agebecause many felt that while things from the outside looked bright and shiny as far as life in the United States(because of the rapid growth of industries and cities), a closer look showed that underneath the surface, there waslots of poverty, corruption, crime and a great disparity of wealth between the rich and the poor.INDIVIDUALISM – One of the strongest believes of the era known as the Gilded Age was the idea of individualism.Individualism is the belief that no matter where someone comes from – rich or poor, native or immigrant – a personcould rise in society and go as far as their talent and commitments take them if they were willing to work hardenough. No one expressed the idea of individualism better than the novelist Horatio Alger, who wrote numerousstories where the main character went from “rags to riches.”SOCIAL DARWINISM – Another powerful idea of the late 1800s was the idea of Social Darwinism, which stronglyreinforced the idea of individualism. The idea of Social Darwinism was based on Charles Darwin’s theory ofevolution that argued that things that cannot adapt to the environment in which they live will eventually die out,while those that do adapt thrive and live on. The catchphrase of this philosophy became “Only the strong survive”or “survival of the fittest.” This philosophy also reinforced the free enterprise “laissez fair” theory of business.Businesses that are well managed and strong would thrive while a business that is mismanaged would likelyeventually go out of business.NATURALISM – Not everyone believed in the Social Darwinism belief in “survival of the fittest.” Some believed thatsome things were out of a person’s control and they could no nothing to stop it. This philosophy that some peoplefailed in life simply because they were caught up in circumstances they could not control was known as Naturalism.According to Naturalists, nature controls your destiny and you have no way of changing it. This philosophy ledmany people to call for the government to help those who could not help themselves Many seven felt it stated in thePreamble of the U.S. Constitution that it was the government’s responsibility to help when it said one purpose of thegovernment was to “promote the general welfare” of the people. Naturalism helped to lead to the Gospel of Wealth.GOSPEL OF WEALTH – Darwin’s theory of evolution frightened and angered many Christians, who rejected thetheory because it contradicted the Bible. However, some leaders concluded that evolution might have been God’sway of creating the world. Many of these leaders accepted the ideas of Social Darwinism and free enterprise. Afterall, they had become successful and rich because of the system. But many believed that those who profited fromsociety owed something in return. This philosophy of giving back to society became known as the Gospel ofWealth. This philosophy believed that wealthy Americans bore the responsibility on using their fortunes to furthersocial progress by donating money to special causes. This practice was known as philanthropy. Today, it is oftencalled giving to charity.URBAN REFORMS – The tremendous changes brought about by industrialism and urbanization triggered a debateamong Americans as to how to address society’s problems. Many disagreed with the Social Darwinism theory of th“survival of the fittest.” As the 20 century (1900s) began, many people began to see that the poor people living inurban areas were in need of help. They began calling on the government to take a more active role in regulating theeconomy and helping those in need. Reform efforts gave rise to the Social Gospel movement, the Salvation Army,the YMCA and settlement houses. The Salvation Army began in 1878 and offered a practical aid and religiouscounseling to the urban poor. The YMCA tried to help industrial workers and the urban poor by organizing Biblestudies, prayer meetings, citizenship training and group activities.SETTLEMENT HOUSES – The Gospel of Wealth movement mentioned earlier helped to bring about the birth ofsettlement houses. Settlement houses were places located in poor neighborhoods that provided numerouscommunity services such as medical care, childcare, libraries, and classes in English. During the late 1800s,reformers such as Jane Addams established numerous settlement houses. People like Addams believed it wastheir Christian duty to improve living conditions for the poor. Addams went on to open the now-famous Hull Housein Chicago in 1889, which inspired many more such settlement houses across the country.
PUBLIC EDUCATION – While some reformers focused on housing and working conditions for the poor, othersfocused on getting the poor better educations. As the United States became increasingly industrialized, it neededmore workers who were trained and educated. This demand for skilled workers led to a much greater focus onbuilding schools and colleges in the late 1800s. Public schools – schools that were free for the children – wereoften crucial to the success of immigrant children. It was there that a child became knowledgeable about Americanculture, a process known as Americanization. Students were taught English, American history and theresponsibilities of being a citizen. Schools also tried to instill discipline and a strong work ethic.ADVANCEMENTS FOR AFRICAN AMERICAN EDUCATION – While many immigrants were getting opportunitiesto educate their children, the same was not true for many former African Americans slaves. Blacks did not have thesame educational opportunities as whites during the late 1800s. To combat discrimination, some African Americansstarted their own schools. The leader of this movement was Booker T. Washington, who founded the TuskegeeInstitute in Alabama in 1881. This gave blacks the opportunity to get a higher education beyond the high schoolyears. Today, Booker T. Washington has numerous high schools in the country named for him. Another importantAfrican American from this period was George Washington Carver, who encouraged farmers to grow the peanuts.This helped Southern sharecroppers overcome their problem of depleted soil (peanuts restored the soil’s nitrogen)and also led to all sorts of inventions for uses of the peanut.POP CULTURE – Popular culture changed considerably in the late 1800s. Because industrialization improved thestandard of living for many people, they now had more money to spend of leisure activities for entertainment andrecreation. Unlike the farms where people lived where the worked, people now divided their lives into two things –time at work and time at home. This is when there was an increase of the entertainment business as people started“going out” for public entertainment.ENTERTAINMENT OF THE LATE 1800s – Saloons were one source of entertainment. Saloons offered maleworkers food, drink and a place to talk about politics and the community. Another new source of entertainment wassports. Baseball became a favorite pastime for people who wanted to go our and relax. In fact, baseball becameknown as the national pastime. This was way before the NFL, the NBA or the NHL. Football was played in collegesand universities beginning in the late 1800s, but it generally appealed to the upper class of society. Boxing was alsoa very popular sport. In 1891, the game of basketball was invented by James Naismith. Another popular form ofentertainment during the era was vaudeville shows. Vaudeville shows would have various types of performers –from animal acts, to acrobats and gymnasts to dancers – perform to entertain people. Yet another form ofentertainment that began in the late 1800s were amusement parks. Amusement parks had attractions such aswater slides and train rides. New York’s Coney Island was one of the first amusement parks in the United States.RAGTIME – Musically, a type of music developed out of the hectic pace of the urban city life that became known asragtime. It was a rhythmic-type music from the African-American culture that grew out of honky-tonk, saloonpianists and banjo players. Scott Joplin, who became known as the “King of Ragtime,” was perhaps the mostimportant African American ragtime composer.
U.S. HISTORY UNIT 1 – THE GILDED AGE Section 2: Political ReformsPOLITICAL REFORMS – During Andrew Jackson’s presidency in the 1830s, the practice of patronage – which isgiving government jobs to those who contributed money to the winning political party in an election – becamecommon and accepted. Patronage was frequently used to get votes by party bosses of political machines. But bythe late 1800s, presidents such as Rutherford B. Hayes set out to make government reforms (changes) and get ridof things such as patronage. This angered Republicans. They called Hayes and others who wanted governmentreforms Halfbreeds because, although they were Republicans, they often went against many Republican policies.Those who opposed government reforms became known as Stalwarts. In the 1880 presidential election, JamesGarfield – a Halfbreed – was elected president. Chester A. Arthur – a Stalwart – was his vice-president. A fewmonths after his election, however, Garfield was assassinated by a patronage job seeker – a Stalwart – who wasupset by Garfield’s policy against patronage. The assassination by a patronage-seeker increased the public’sdesire to get rid of patronage. In response to this, Congress passed the Pendleton Act.PENDLETON ACT –The Pendleton Act was the law passed by Congress in 1883 following the assassination ofPresident Garfield. The law brought an end to the spoils system – better known as patronage – on the federalgovernment level and led to the creation of the Civil Service Commission. The Civil Service Commission made surethat people who applied for federal government jobs were qualified. People now had to pass an examination toqualify for a government job. This became the merit system (as opposed to the spoils system). A long-term result ofthe Pendleton Act was the shift of the political parties to reliance on funding from business, since they could nolonger depend on patronage hopefuls.TWO PARTIES, NECK and NECK – The battle between the Republican and Democratic parties of control of thegovernment was very tight in the late 1800s. The Republican Party has the support of people from the Northeastand Midwest. Democrats had the support of people from the South. Most Republicans were Protestants and werelooked upon as the “party of morality” (people should do what is religiously the right thing to do). Democratsportrayed themselves as the “party of personal liberties” and believed people should be free to do what theywanted. Democrats often had support of big cities because of the large numbers of immigrants and Catholics in thecities. Presidential elections were often very close. In fact, in the presidential elections of 1876 and 1888, thewinner lost the popular vote (individual vote) but won the election by winning the Electoral College vote. Between1876 and 1896, Republicans were elected four out of six elections, but often had to work with a House ofRepresentatives controlled by the Democrats.MUGWUMPS – In the 1884 presidential election, Democrats nominated Grover Cleveland of New York forpresident. He opposed Tammany Hall, the corrupt Democratic machine in New York City. The Republicansnominated James G. Blaine. The campaigns focused on the moral character of the candidates. Some Republicansreformers were unhappy with Blaine as their candidate. They went against their party and supported Cleveland.These Republicans who supported the Democratic candidate became known as Mugwumps. Mugwumps werereformers who considered themselves moral leaders more concerned with helping the people than helping theirpolitical party. One of the most famous Mugwumps was a New York politician by the name of Teddy Roosevelt.GROVER CLEVELAND – Grover Cleveland is the only President to serve two separate terms as president. Heserved from 1885-1889 and then again from 1893-1897. Cleveland faced many problems: 1) the debate overpatronage; 2) numerous workers’ unions going on strike; 3) the debate over high tariffs; and 4) debate over whocould regulate trade between states (interstate trade). The biggest debate over trade between the states dealt withthe railroads.WABASH v. ILLINOIS – Among President Cleveland’s problems was unrest among the nation’s workers. Asunrest among workers grew, numerous strikes occurred, resulting in violence between strikers and police.Americans were becoming concerned about how much power big business had, particularly the railroads. Manypeople – especially farmers and small business owners – felt that the railroads were gouging their customers. Toprevent the railroads from take advantage of its customers, many states began to regulate the train industry. Onerailroad – the Wabash – said that individual states did not have the authority to regulate the railroad’s tradebetween states and took its case to court. In 1877, in the Supreme Court case of Wabash v. Illinois, the SupremeCourt ruled that only the federal government could regulate interstate commerce. Public pressure forced the U.S.Congress to respond to the Supreme Court ruling, and in 1887, Congress passed and President Cleveland signeda bill that created the Interstate Commerce Commission.
INTERSTATE COMMERCE COMMISSION – The Interstate Commerce Commission was the agency created tohelp the federal government regulate the railroad industry and trade between states. The Interstate CommerceCommission limited the rates railroads could charge its customers. It also forbid rebates to higher-volume users, anmade it illegal to charge higher rates for shorter hauls. But the Interstate Commerce Commission was not effectivein regulating the railroads because it had to rely on courts to enforce the rulings.McKINNEY TARIFF – Debate over the high tariff rates was one of the central issues in the presidential election of1889. Republican Benjamin Harrison ran for the Republicans and won in a narrow vote to become president.Harrison addressed the tariff issue by passing the McKinney Tariff. This bill cut tobacco taxes on raw sugar whileincreasing rates on other items. But by cutting taxes, the bill decreased the amount of revenue (money) thegovernment had. The McKinney Tariff resulted in a national budget deficit, which means the government was indebt and the economy would be hurt. This contributed to an economic depression in the United States in 1893.SHERMAN ANTI-TRUST ACT – Trusts – which were corporations created to allow a business to create amonopoly – became very popular in the late 1800s. To curb the power of trusts, Congress passed the ShermanAntitrust Act of 1890. At first, the Sherman Anti-Trust Act was not very effective because the courts wereresponsible for enforcement. The courts saw nothing in the law that would require big companies to change theyway they did business. Therefore, the law was ineffective. The Sherman Anti-trust law was another example of howthe government was ineffective in dealing with the nation’s problems. By the election of 1890, many people beganto believe that the two political parties could not solve the nation’s problems.URBAN POLITICS – As cities grew, a new kind of political system developed to address these urban problems.This system provided essential city services in return for political power. Because cities grew so fast, thegovernment could not keep up with the needs of the people. This led to the creation of what was known as politicalmachines. Political machines were informal political groups that were designed to gain and keep political power.They were run by people who became known as party bosses. People moving into the city looked to these partybosses for jobs, housing, protection and other necessities. In exchange for these necessities, the people – oftenpoor immigrants – voted for the party boss in city elections.POLITICAL CORRUPTION – With the rise of political machines and party bosses, there was also a rise incorruption within the local governments. Party bosses would commit fraud or graft, which is getting money throughdishonest or questionable means. Outright fraud occurred when party bosses accepted bribes from contractors whogot government projects by paying off the politicians. One of the most infamous political machines was TammanyHall in New York. The party boss was William M. “Boss” Tweed, who eventually was thrown in prison because ofhis corruption. Despite the corruption of the system, political machines did provide necessary services and they didhelp people assimilate into American society.
U.S. HISTORY UNIT 1 – THE GILDED AGE Section 3: PopulismFARMERS STRUGGLE – As has been mentioned, during the late 1800s, farmers struggled because of the fallingprices of farm goods. New inventions led to greater production and a greater supply, driving the price down. Also,tariffs on U.S. exports increased the price of many manufactured goods that farmers needed, such as tractors andplows, and made it harder for farmers to sell their products overseas. This ran many farmers out of business. Manymoved to the cities and found jobs in factories. But the thing that caused the biggest problems for farmers was themoney supply.FARM PRICES DROP – A major problem was that farm prices had dropped due to new technology. Farmers weregrowing more crops and the greater supply led to lower prices. Farmers were most concerned with the nation’smoney supply. The country had increased its money supply during the Civil War when it began issuing greenbacks,which were the first dollar bills. When this happened it caused inflation, which is the drop in the value of money.But as the economy grew, deflation began to occur. Deflation is an increase in the value of money and a decreasein prices. Farmers were especially hard hit by deflation. This occurred because the price of their product dropped.Yet, while they were making less, they still paid the same amount on their loans. Farmers blamed banks for theirfinancial hardships and urged the government to print more money to increase the money supply. Many farmersbelieved the only way to convince the government to help them was to organize. This led to the creation of theGrange and the Farmers’ Alliance.THE GRANGE – The first national farm organization was the Patrons of Husbandry. It was better known as theGrange. In 1873, the nation faced a recession and farm incomes fell drastically. Many farmers joined the Grange toget help. The Grangers pressured railroads to reduce their rates to haul their goods to market. Grangers alsopooled their resources and created cooperatives, which were marketing organizations that worked for the benefit oftheir members. When farmers joined a cooperative, they pooled their crops and held them off the market in order toforce the price up. A cooperative could also work for better shipping rates from railroads. But the Grangers’strategies were not successful. Granger cooperatives failed, though, because 1) cooperatives were too small toinfluence prices, and 2) Eastern businesses refused to deal with them because they were too much like a union.FARMERS’ ALLIANCE – By the late 1880s, a new organization known as the Farmers Alliance began to form. TheAlliance was strong in the South and on the Great Plains. The Alliance organized large cooperatives calledexchanges in hopes of increasing farm prices while making loans to farmers at low interest rates. These exchangeshad some success. However, overall the Farmers’ Alliance cooperatives failed. This failure of the Farmers Alliancehappened for three main reasons: 1) they were too small to dramatically affect world prices for farm products, 2)they loaned too much money at low interest rates that was never repaid, and 3) many railroads, bankers, andwholesalers discriminated against them. The struggle of the farmers led to a rise of a belief known as Populism.POPULISM – Populism was the movement to increase farmers’ political power to work to pass laws in theirinterest. The economic crisis that drove farmers to embrace this movement had its origins in the years immediatelyfollowing the Civil War. When the Farmers’ Alliance met in 1890, they established some demands to get politiciansto help their cause. When they found that the Democratic Party would not meet their demands, many broke fromthe Democratic Party and created the People’s Party, also known as the Populists. In the 1892 elections, Populistshad four major goals: 1) unlimited coinage of silver to increase the money supply, 2) federal ownership of railroads,3) a graduated income tax (one that taxed higher earnings more heavily), and 4) direct election of U.S. Senators(they had been elected by state legislatures). In the presidential election of 1892, the Populists candidate did notwin, but he did win 22 electoral votes.PANIC of 1893 – In 1893, the United States entered a serious economic crisis. Many railroad companies hadexpanded too quickly and were unable to pay their loans. They declared bankruptcy. The stock market thencrashed and many banks closed. This became known as the Panic of 1893. By 1984, the U.S. economy was in adepression.THE SHERMAN SILVER PURCHASE ACT – As the nation’s economy worsened in 1893, many foreign investorsstarted cashing in their U.S. government bonds for gold. This left the government with a very small gold reserve.Gold was also lost every time people exchanged silver for gold under the Sherman Silver Purchase Act. As a result,President Cleveland asked Congress to repeal the law. His actions split the Democrats into two groups: gold bugs,who were people who believed American currency should be based only on gold; and silverites, people whobelieved coining silver in unlimited quantities would solve the nation’s problems.
ELECTION of 1896 – In the presidential election of 1896, a major issue was improving the U.S. economy.Republicans supported a gold standard and candidate William McKinley. Democrats nominated the great oratorWilliam Jennings Bryan, who was a supporter of unlimited silver. This drew most Populists back to the DemocraticParty. But, McKinley had the support of urban workers in the Midwest and business leaders in the Northeast.McKinley easily won the election. Eventually, the U.S. adopted a gold-based currency and when the silver issuedied out, the Populists lost most of its following and Populism died out.
U.S. HISTORY UNIT 1 – THE GILDED AGE Section 4: The Rise of SegregationSEGREGATION in the SOUTH – After Reconstruction, many African Americans in the South lived in conditionsthat were similar to slavery. Although, they were technically free, many could not escape poverty. Most AfricanAmericans were sharecroppers, farmers who did not own the land they worked and gave part of their crops to thelandlord for rent. Because they were always in debt, many African Americans left farming to look for jobs out West.EXODUSTERS – In 1879, thousands of African Americans migrated from the South to the West. These migrantsbecame known as Exodusters. Many Exodusters joined the Populist Party when it formed. They hoped that byjoining poor whites with poor African Americans would allow them to challenge Democrats in the election.DISFRANCHISING AFRICAN AMERICANS – After Reconstruction, African Americans saw their rights begin to thdisappear. One of these rights was the right to vote. While the 15 Amendment said states could not deny the rightto vote on the basis of race or color, it did not say that states could not require citizens to read or write or ownproperty. Southern states used this loophole to pass laws requiring blacks to own property and pay a poll tax, aspecial fee, in order to vote. Sometimes they required African Americans to have to pass a literacy test in order tovote. This prevented most blacks from voting. This was not the only way blacks were “segregated” or separatedfrom the whites in the South. Other “Jim Crow laws” furthered segregation in the South.JIM CROW LAWS – African Americans faced discrimination throughout the U.S. in the late 1800s. Blacks were notallowed in many public places. In 1883, the Supreme Court ruled that although states could not deny blacksequality, private places could practice segregation, which is the separation of the races. After the ruling, Southernstates passed laws than enforced segregation in all public places. Many southern states passed Jim Crow laws.These laws were designed to prevent African Americans from exercising their equal rights. African Americans couldno longer ride the same railroad cars or drink from the same water fountains or use the same restrooms as whites.A key Supreme Court ruling legalized segregation – Plessy v. Ferguson.PLESSY v. FERGUSON – As mentioned, Jim Crow laws in the South kept blacks segregated from whites. Thisincluded passenger railroad trains. In 1892, Homer Plessy – a man who was 1/8 black – challenged the law after hewas arrested for riding in the car designated for whites. He took the case all the way to the United States SupremeCourt. In 1896, in the case of Plessy vs. Ferguson, the Supreme Court ruled that segregation did not violate theU.S. Constitution. Thus, Plessy v. Ferguson was the Supreme Court case that legalized segregation andestablished the principle of “separate but equal.”LYNCHINGS – Following the ruling in Plessy v. Ferguson, many whites felt empowered to be able to take the lawinto their own hands against blacks. When a black violated Jim Crow laws and challenged white domination, theywere often lynched. A lynching is the unlawful killing of a person accused of a crime at the hands of a mob withouta trial, usually by hanging them from a tree. In the late 1800s, it is estimated that around 1,200 blacks were lynchedin the South.AFRICAN AMERICAN LEADERS – While most African Americans were fearful of speaking out against injusticesin the south for fear of being lynched, a very few stood up for their rights. Ida B. Wells was the African Americanwriter from Memphis who started a campaign against lynchings. She pushed courts to bring those accused oflynchings to justice. Booker T. Washington believed the way to stop discrimination was for African American’s toconcentrate on economic goals rather than political goals. Another important African American from this period wasW.E.B. DuBois challenged government ideas and pointed out that African American rights had been denied evenafter blacks received an education. He believed that the only way African Americans would achieve full equalitywas by demanding their rights. He went on to help found the NAACP.N.A.A.C.P. – The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) was the organizationcreated in 1909 that worked to improve living conditions for African Americans. The NAACP took up civil cases andtried winning cases for blacks in the courts.
U.S. HISTORY UNIT 1 – THE GILDED AGE Section 5: Indian policiesTHE MOVE WESTWARD – After the Civil War, a dynamic period in U.S. history began – the settlement of theWest. The lives of Western miners, farmers and ranchers were often filled with very hard times. Despite the difficulttimes, the wave of American settlers did not stop. Railroads quickened this migration to the West. Also during thisperiod, many Native Americans lost their homelands and their way of live as they clashed with new settlers. Livewas very hard for settlers moving west. It was hard work and the only way most survived was by working togetherwith other settlers. Most people who moved west were ranchers who raised cattle or farmed the land or wereminers looking for gold or silver. The movement west led to a rise in conflicts with Native Americans.HOMESTEAD ACT – In 1862 (during the civil War), the United States government showed its support for settlingthe Great Plains by passing the Homestead Act. The Homestead Act allowed people to buy a tract of public land(known as a homestead) for $10 (which was a lot of money in 1862). A homesteader could claim up to 160 acres ofland and could become the owner of the land after living there for five years and improving the land. TheHomestead Act provided a legal method for settlers to buy property in the West, much like the Northwest Ordinancehad done for the Midwest 80 years before.NATIVE AMERICANS – The Great Plains was home to hundreds of Native American tribes. Most NativeAmericans were nomads who lived hunting buffalo. But the U.S. government approved a policy that led to the masskilling of the buffalo. The government did this in an attempt force Native Americans to move to reservations. Whenthe Buffalo herd was gone, the tribe would move on. Partially due to this nomadic live of never settling in one spot,settlers from the East felt they had the right to the lands in the west. They felt that the Native Americans who livedthere were uncivilized and new settlers felt they could produce more food and wealth than the Native Americans.This led to numerous clashes among settlers and Indians. Often, the Native Americans were victims of massacres– which are the cruel killing of innocent people. Some famous massacres were Fetterman’s Massacre, the SandCreek Massacre, the Tragedy at Wounded Knee and the Battle of Little Big Horn.BATTLE of LITTLE BIG HORN – The Battle of Little Big Horn was one of the most famous massacres in U.S.history. It was in this battle that the Seventh Cavalry, led by Lt. Colonel George Custer, were looking to put down anuprising of Sioux and Cheyenne Indians. But Custer’s 210 men ran into a Native American fighting force of over2,500. Custer and all of his men were killed in the ambush. This became known as Custer’s Last Stand. Among theNative American heroes in the battle was Sitting Bull.FAMOUS INDIAN CHEIFS – There are numerous Native American Chiefs who played a role in the history of theWest. Among them are Sitting Bull, Chief Joseph, Red Cloud and Crazy Horse. These Indian chiefs were bestknown for the defiance against American settlers and the American government and for standing up for thepreservation of the Native American’s way of life.CHIEF JOSEPH – Chief Joseph may have been the Indian chief who had the biggest impact on U.S. history. In1877, members of the Nez Perce tribe – which was led by Chief Joseph – refused to move from their lands to anIndian reservation in Idaho. When the army came to force them to move, they fled for more than 1,300 miles.However, in October of 1877, after losing many of his followers in battles, Chief Joseph surrendered. He and hisfollowers were moved to Oklahoma.INDIAN PEACE COMMISSION – Shortly after the end of the Civil War, the federal government tried to step in andsettle disputes between U.S. settlers and Native Americans by creating the Indian Peace Commission in 1867. TheIndian Peace Commission tried to end conflicts by creating two lands for Native Americans only. These lands wereknown as reservations. But Native Americans faced many of the same problems on federal reservations as they didbefore, problems such as poverty, despair and corrupt American traders. Native Americans were also upset thatmany were forced to assimilate to American society. Native Americans were forced to speak English, becomeChristians and dress like Americans. This caused many aspects of Native American culture to die out.THE DAWES ACT – The Dawes Act was the U.S. government’s attempt to assimilate the Native Americans intoAmerican society. The plan was to break up Indian reservations into small plots of land – known as allotments –and give the land to Native American families to farm and run on their own. The Dawes Act, which was passed in1887, failed miserably because most Native Americans had no training in farming and most were not interested inbecoming a part of American society.