Westward expansion and settlementPresentation Transcript
GO WEST! Westward expansion and settlement in the late 19 th century
The Homestead Act (1862) promoted settlement by giving away land!
All settlers could keep 160 acres of land as long as they developed it for at least five years
Why would the government want people to settle in these lands?
Think about railroads, expansion of government’s influence
Kansas emigrants The railroads provided would-be "sodbusters" with transportation to get to the land that was being opened for settlement. (Kansas Collection, University of Kansas Libraries)
Thousands of families moved west in search of new opportunities, many of them European immigrants
Settlers were also called “sodbusters” because their homes were made from blocks of sod (top layer of prairie soil matted with grass roots)
Among the many groups of settlers were the “Exodusters,” African Americans who traveled out of the South to the Midwest after Reconstruction
“ Exodusters” = reference to the Moses story from the Bible
Why do you think they decided to migrate westward?
(left) The Kern family seated in front of their sod house in 1886, holding slices of an enormous melon as if to show off their prosperity and the bounty of their land. (Courtesy Nebraska State Historical Society) (right) The Shores family, whose formal pose, with their sod house and other possessions displayed behind them, conveys a sense of accomplishment and determination to stay on their own land. (Courtesy Nebraska State Historical Society)
Life on the farming frontier
Life out west was much more difficult than most people had been told!
Plains have virtually no trees
Droughts threatened farm production
Other extreme forms of weather (blizzards, tornadoes) added to difficulties!
Many were unable to “stick it out” on the prairies, but those who did welcomed the opportunities life on the frontier provided
Western life provided new social/economic/political opportunities for women
Women in Wyoming get the vote in 1869, and manage to keep it when Wyoming was granted statehood in 1890!
Women also got the vote in Colorado, Utah, and Idaho
As the West grows…
Settlement in the West grows with the help of the Homestead Act and the railroad, prompting a population boom
Between 1864 and 1890, ten states were added to the Union!
Native Americans suffer
Western settlers clash with Native Americans, particularly tribes living on the Great Plains
As white settlers claimed their hunting grounds, Plains peoples like the Sioux and Lakota fight to keep both their land and their way of life!
Treaties protecting land claims repeatedly broken
Buffalo (central to life of Plains tribes) quickly face extinction at the hands of white hunters
“ It is really absurd that 41,000,000 acres of land, having a magnificent soil and climate, should be fenced in from development…They should have a goodly amount of land reserved to each of them in severally, and care should be taken that their tribal lands should not be taken from them without due equivalent being paid…Colonel Elias C. Boudinot, one of the Cherokee Nation…says: “’There is not an intelligent Indian in the Indian Territory ….but will heartily endorse the conclusion that the time has come when the Territory should be opened to civilization.’" (May 1879)
Despite their resistance, by 1890 Indian holdings are reduced to small reservations scattered across the West…