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THE AMERICAN PEOPLE
CREATING A NATION AND A SOCIETY
NASH  JEFFREY
HOWE  FREDERICK DAVIS  WINKLER  MIRES  PESTANA
7th Edition
Chapter 13: Moving West
Pearson Education, Inc, publishing as Longman © 2006
PROBING THE TRANS-MISSISSIPPI
WEST


During 1840s most Americans lived east of
the Mississippi
By 1860, 4.3 million had moved west of the
Mississippi
THE INTERNATIONAL CONTEXT
FOR AMERICAN EXPANSIONISM

In 1815, save for the Louisiana Purchase, Spain held
onto most of the trans-Mississippi west
–
–
–

Holdings included resent-day Texas, Arizona, New Mexico,
Nevada, Utah, Colorado, California and parts of Wyoming,
Kansas and Oklahoma
Attempted to keep foreigners out, without a lot of luck
Mexican independence in 1821 gave the new country all of
Spain’s holdings
North of California was the Oregon Territory, disputed
between America and England since Spain had
withdrawn its claim in 1819 and Russia in 1824
EARLY INTEREST IN THE WEST

Some Americans sought beaver skins as early as 1811 in the
Oregon backcountry and in the Rockies a decade later
–




Methodist missionaries established early outposts in Oregon territory
In the Southwest the collapse of the Spanish Empire provided
Americans for opportunities for trade and settlement
A few New Englanders settled in California and exploited the seaotter trade and then moved on to other trade goods when otters
became scarce
Many Indians relocated from eastern lands to present-day Oklahoma
–

Often married Native American women and made valuable connections
with the tribes
Some acted as agents for white civilization
Publications increasingly promoted emigration
MANIFEST DESTINY



Phrase coined in 1845 by John L. O’Sullivan,
editor of the Democratic Review
Expressed conviction that the development of
a superior system of government and lifestyle
dictated a God-given right of Americans to
spread their civilization to the four corners of
the continent
Territorial expansion was a mandate of
Manifest Destiny
WINNING THE TRANS-MISSISSIPPI
WEST


Events in Texas triggered the government’s
determination to acquire territories west of the
Mississippi
Sparsely populated and underdeveloped
Southwest acted as a buffer zone for Mexico
–
–
Increasingly vulnerable as Spain weakened
1819 Transcontinental Treaty had guaranteed
Spain’s possession of the area and included U.S.
denial of claims on Texas
ANNEXING TEXAS, 1845


Mexico feared a hostile takeover of Texas after repeated attempts
by the United States to buy the territory
To strengthen border areas, Mexico offered land for reduced costs
requiring only that the settlers become Mexican citizens and
Catholics
–
–
–


Stephen Austin and many other contractors organized parties of
settlers into Texas
By end of 1820s, 15,000 white Americans and 1000 slaves easily
outnumbered the 5000 Tejano inhabitants
Few settlers honored their agreement with Mexico
Mexico abolished slavery in Texas in 1830 and forbade further
emigration from the U.S. yet nothing really changed
In October 1835, hostilities started and Sam Houston became
commander in chief of the Texas forces
–
The Alamo and Golidad fell to forces under Santa Ana
ANNEXING TEXAS, 1845


On April 21, 1836, American forces surprised the
Mexicans while they were at siesta and forced Santa
Ana to sign a treaty giving them their independence
and a border at the Rio Grande River
New republic was financially unstable, unrecognized
by Mexico, and the U.S. was unwilling to annex it and
upset the balance in the Senate
–

The renewed question of annexation in 1844 showed deep
splits in American society
Shortly before President Tyler left office in March
1845 he secured the annexation of Texas through a
joint resolution
WAR WITH MEXICO, 1846-1848



Mexico severed diplomatic ties with America after its annexation
of Texas
President Polk failed to appreciate the humiliation of the
Mexicans and expected them to agree to demands for a Rio
Grande border as well as California and New Mexico
Polk sent American troops under Zachary Taylor to forestall a
potential Mexican invasion.
–


Hostilities quickly followed after Taylor took up a position at the
disputed Rio Grande border
Debate in Washington simmered as U.S. forces swept into
Mexico and took the capital city
Nicholas Trist negotiated a treaty ending the war and obtaining
for the U.S. the Rio Grande border, New Mexico and California
CALIFORNIA AND NEW MEXICO

Before 1830s, few Americans lived in California but by
the 1840s 1500 had crossed overland
–
–

The U.S. was interested in New Mexico due to
profitable economic ties dating to the 1820s
–
–

Americans were worried British were also interested in fine
harbors and good position for China trade
Polk tried to buy the state to no avail
Few New Mexicans supported annexation by the United
States
U.S. troops under Col. Stephen Kearney occupied Santa Fe
in 1846 where they were accepted by the elites but not so
much by the Mexicans and Pueblo Indians
Despite resistance, both California and New Mexico
were firmly in American hands by January 1847
THE TREATY OF GUADALUPEHIDALGO, 1848




Negotiated by Nicholas Trist and signed on February
2, 1848
Set the Rio Grande as America’s south border
U.S. lost 13,000 American lives but gained 75,000
Spanish speaking inhabitants, 150,000 Native
Americans and more than 529,000 square miles
Awarded Mexico $15 million and set terms for
Gadsden Purchase (1853) of southern Arizona and
parts of New Mexico for an additional $10 million
THE OREGON QUESTION, 18441846


Although Oregon was disputed by both America and England,
President Polk claimed that the American title was “clear and
unquestionable”
The British government did not agree but were powerless to stop
thousands of settlers migrating to Oregon
–


By 1843, Americans had written a constitution and elected a
legislature even as British interest was declining due to the industrial
revolution and opportunities elsewhere
Despite slogans (54o40’ or fight ) and diatribe, Polk was unwilling
to fight and by June 1846 had worked out an agreement with
Britain that set the border at the forty-ninth-parallel and gave the
British Vancouver Island
Americans justified expansion with their belief in Manifest
Destiny
GOING WEST AND EAST

Between the 1840s and 1860s, thousands of
Americans moved West
–
–

380,000 went to California
Thousands of Chinese headed south and east to
escape Opium Wars, internal unrest and poor
economic conditions with 63,000 coming to the
U.S., mostly California
American migrants had a choice of going west
by sea (faster but more expensive) or over
land
THE EMIGRANTS

Most emigrants to the far West were white and
American by birth, coming from the Midwest
and Upper South
–
–

Some free blacks also make the six-month overland
trip
Emigrants from the Deep South went with their
slaves to Texas and Arkansas
Most emigrants traveled with family and
relatives
–
Only during the Gold Rush years did large numbers
of unmarried men travel West independently
MIGRANTS’ MOTIVES







Most emigrants sought wealth in the form of gold and silver
Other sought to set up businesses as merchants or land
speculators
Most dreamed of bettering their lives by cultivating land whose
acquisition was made easier by federal and state land policies
Some traveled to the warmer climate to restore their health
Others followed the direction of church leaders for religious or
cultural missions
Moving to the Far West was considerably expensive with the sea
route costing $600 per person while four could travel by land for
$220
Chinese emigrants, mostly married men, also came in search of
bettering their fortunes
THE OVERLAND TRAILS

Overland travelers started in late spring in
Iowa and Missouri
–
–
–
–
Made 15 miles a day on a trip that usually took six
months
Until 1850s conflict with Native Americans was rare
As trip progressed, disease often struck and the
terrain became more difficult
Gender divisions of labor collapsed under the
strain
LIVING IN THE WEST
FARMING IN THE WEST



New arrivals in the West had to stake a claim, clear the land of
obstructions and build a shelter before they could start farming
As they began their farming, the emigrants unconsciously
harmed the land by introducing foreign weeds and poor farming
techniques
Gender boundaries were less clear during the struggle to survive
–

Political institutions took precedence over schools and churches
which were often hampered by a lack of funding and interest
–

Within a few years, as new emigrants arrived, settlers established
schools, churches and other organizations that helped define
acceptable behavior
Newspapers, journals and books circulated freely and reinforced
familiar norms
Western society rapidly acquired a social and economic structure
similar to that of the East
MINING WESTERN RESOURCES

The 1848 California gold discovery swept the country and led to a
population increase from 14,000 to 100,000
–
–
–

Other strikes followed:
–
–
–
–


By 1852, figure had more than doubled
Gold seekers were young, mostly unmarried males (only five percent
were women and children) and heterogeneous
Eighty percent came from the U.S., eight percent from Mexico and five
percent from South America with the rest from Europe and Asia
British Columbia in 1858
Colorado in 1859
Pacific Northwest early in the decade and Montana a few years later.
Black Hills of North Dakota in the mid-1870s
Discovery spurred rapid, if short-lived growth with half the residents
working the mines and the other half working the miners
Mining life was often disorderly
MINING WESTERN RESOURCES

Few struck it rich and most simply made enough to keep going
–
–

Extraction of remaining deposits required cooperative efforts, capital,
technological experience and expensive machinery
–



Mining became corporate enterprise and miners became wage workers
Women’s services—cooking, nursing, laundry and hotel services—were in
high demand and priced accordingly
–

Easily mined deposits soon ran out
Chinese miners were adept at finding what others overlooked
Prostitutes also hoped to make money and were as much as twenty percent of
the female population in California in 1850
Minority contributions were high but so was racial discrimination
For Native American tribes, mining rushes were a disaster with the
population in California declining from 150,000 in 1849 to less than 30,000
by 1869
At a high ecological cost, California mines provided two-thirds of the
country’s gold between 1848 and 1883 and fostered western economic
development
ESTABLISHING GOD’S KINGDOM

Salt Lake City served as the heart of the Mormon state of Deseret
–

Society was familiar with its well planned cities and tidy houses and yet
unfamiliar with its practice of polygamy
Mormons had come to area after 1844 murder of Joseph Smith and
1846 need to flee Nauvoo, Illinois
–
–
–
–
–
Brigham Young used Mexican-American War to raise needed capital to
finance great migration west
Having reached the area with an exploratory party in July 1847, Young
announced that settlers would receive virtually free land based on family
size and ability to cultivate it
Expeditionary group built irrigation ditches and planted crops while
Young returned for rest of Mormons
By 1850, more than 11,000 settlers had arrived with more coming all the
time thanks to Church missionary activities, emigration society and loan
fund
By the end of the decade, more than 30,000 Mormons lived in the area
ESTABLISHING GOD’S KINGDOM


Most Mormons were farmers from New England or the Midwest
but the heart of society was not the individual farmer but the
cooperative village
There was no separation between Church and state with Church
leaders occupying all important political posts
–


When Utah became a territory, Church leaders drew up a
constitution that divided religious and political power but the reality
was different
After initial expeditions against Native Americans, Mormons
concentrated on converting them rather than killing them
Polygamy was both a “celestial” form of marriage and a way to
deal with single women converts who had made migration on
their own
–
Only 10-20 percent of Mormon families were polygamous in part due
to the expense and the emotional strains involved
CITIES IN THE WEST

Some emigrants went west for the express purpose of
living in a fast-growing city such as San Francisco or
Denver
–
–

Bustling commercial life offered a wide range of occupations
and services
Young, single men made up an overwhelming majority of
these urban centers’ populations with 18 of the 24 largest
western cities having a gender imbalance as late as 1880
Opportunities were always greatest for those who
brought significant assets with them from the East
CULTURES IN CONFLICT

Chinese men from southern China came to
U.S. with the plan to work for a few years and
then return home to their families
–
Initially California welcomed them though as more
arrived hostility and violence increased
CONFRONTING THE PLAINS
TRIBES


Americans moving west were continually shocked by the cultural
differences between them and the native tribes along the trails
and often believed they were doomed to extinction
In the 1840s, Americans encountered the powerful Plains Indian
tribes
–
–
–
–
The “border” tribes lived in villages and raised crops which they
supplemented in the summer with buffalo meat
On the central plains lived aggressive buffalo-horse culture tribes
who often raided the border tribes
In the Southwest were a combination of aggressive nomadic tribes
like the Comanche and Apache and tribes who had adopted aspects
of Spanish culture and European domestic animals
Most tribes had adopted a nomadic, horse based, buffalo hunting
society with a seasonal mobility of 500 miles
CONFRONTING THE PLAINS
TRIBES

Increased Indian mobility increased tribal contact and conflict
–
–

Males were not men until they had proven themselves in battle,
mostly by stealing horses and proving individual prowess.
Chiefs had limited authority
Conflict with whites arose as stock grazed on grasses needed by
buffalo and Indian ponies and as settlers hunted buffalo in larger
and larger numbers, often for sport
–
–
–
–
As buffalo herds shrank, inter-tribal warfare rose
The Sioux tried to get compensation and, when that was refused,
attempted to impose taxes on passing wagon trains
The gold rush only made matters worse
Government decided on a two pronged approach: build forts and
treat with the tribes to convince them to end tribal warfare and limit
their movements
THE FORT LARAMIE COUNCIL,
1851

1851 a tribal council of some 10,000 Indians
convened at Fort Laramie
–
–



Border tribes refused to participate for fear of the Sioux.
The Comanche, Kiowa and Apache also refused to attend
The Government promised compensation for the
destruction of the grass, timber and buffalo and
annual payments of goods and services
In return, the Indians had to give up their rights of free
movement and stay within boundaries drawn by the
government
The Sioux refused to give up newly conquered lands
south of the Platte
OVERWHELMING THE MEXICAN
SETTLERS

In the Southwest, Texas and California, American encountered a
Spanish-speaking population and Hispanic culture
–
–




Americans saw Mexicans as lazy, ignorant and cunning
Few Americans abided by the terms of the Treaty of Guadalupe
Hidalgo designed to protect the rights of Mexicans in the newly
acquired territory
In New Mexico, light-skinned, upper-class landowners fared
better, often arranging marriages and business alliances with
Anglo-Americans
In Texas, the Hispanic population dropped from 10 percent in
1840 to 6 percent by 1860 and the upper class lost most of their
power
In California, the discovery of gold quickly made Hispanics a
minority subject to increasing racism and loss of land
Many Hispanics resisted Anglo incursions and attacks on their
culture
DISCOVERING U.S. HISTORY
ONLINE
Fort Scott National Historic Site
http://www.nps.gov/fosc/mandest.htm

The Mexican-American War
www.sunsite.unam.mx/revistas/1847

Alamo History
http://www.drtl.org/History/

The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo
http://www.loc.gov/rr/hispanic/ghtreaty/

The Oregon Trail
http://www.kancoll.org/
http://www.isu.edu/~trinmich/Oregontrail.html

The Donner Party
http://www.members.aol.com/danmrosen/donner/index.htm

DISCOVERING U.S. HISTORY
ONLINE
James Knox Polk
http://www.potus.com/jkpolk.html

American Mountain Men
http://www.xmission.com/~drudy/amm.html

California in the Gold Rush Decade
http://www.huntington.org/Education/GoldRush/
http://www.museumca.org/goldrush/

The National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian
Institution and The George Gustav Heye Center
http://www.nmai.si.edu/subpage.cfm?subpage=exhibitions&second=onli
ne

Native American Women
www.gowest.coalliance.org/exhib/gallery4/leadin.htm
