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The Last West

and New South

Unit 6 Part 3
Settlement of Americas Last Frontier
- Several factors encouraged Western settlement.
- The Railroads
- The Homestead Act of 1862
- The end of Reconstruction
- The Myth of the West
- The Railroads
- The single greatest factor in settling the West.
- Sold land from land grants cheaply
- Bureaus of Immigration encouraged settlement in the West.
- Advertised myths to encourage settlement.
- Climate would cure all disease
- Women could find husbands, men could get rich quick

- The Homestead Act of 1862
- The Act granted 160 acres in the
Midwest to anyone willing to live and
farm the land for 5 years.
- Draws huge numbers of diverse
people - easterners, blacks,
immigrants etc.
- The drawback is that the arid
midwest makes profitability
difficult with only 160 acres.
- The Legislation is weak and much of
the land is snapped up by speculators.
Changes in American Farming
High crop prices for wheat/corn encouraged
cash crop farming
- Large scale farming becomes a business
- Need mega$ to buy new combines, etc.
- Emergence of bonanza farms
- Pushes small farmers off the land
- Hired hands (Mexicans, Chinese) to
work the farms
- of American farms operated
by tenants
- This leads to problems for farmers:
- CASH CROPS made farmers dependent on high
- Foreign competition drove it down
- DEFLATION farmers caught in debt cycle
- have to produce more to pay back fixed
- Overproduction drives prices down
- MORTGAGES high interest; foreclosures
- DEPENDENT ON RR for shipping high rates

- Government Farm Policy
- Government policy also hurt farmers
- Govt favored industrial classes &
urban areas
- Local property taxes high (& Westerners
cant hide land like Easterners could hide
stocks & bonds
Protective tariffs for industry; nothing for
- Farmers were at mercy of corporations,
trusts, agents:
Machinery, fertilizer, barbed wire all
controlled by major trusts
Middlemen take cut of sales & kept prices
Storage rates for grain in warehouse &
elevators high; RR freight rates also high
The Plains Wars
The Plains Way of Life
- The Native Americans
- Nomads - followed their food source, the buffalo.
- 12 to 15 million
- Horses made them better hunters and warriors.
- The Plains Wars - 1860 - 1890 - An ongoing fight to protect the land and stop the destruction
of the natives way of life.
- Several major causes:
- Refusal of the government to honor its previous treaties.
- The forced removal of tribes to increasingly small reservations.
- Continuing encroachment of native land by miners, ranchers and settlers.
- The Buffalo
- The buffalo or bison were an extremely important part of the plains peoples lives.
- They used virtually every part of the buffalo from the hide for clothing, to the stomach for holding water.
- At one time, an estimated 60 million buffalo roamed the plains of the present day United States and
- US Government Policy
- The Department of the interior is in charge - is also deeply corrupt.
- The initial policy is Concentration.
- Deal with each tribe individually and define their territory.
- The alleged reason is to stop intertribal war, but it is actually to divide and conquer.
- By the 1860s, policy is to confine all natives to Reservations in Black Hills, SD or OK.
- Indians received, supplies in return for removal to reservations and a promise to be left alone.
- The plains natives will not quietly move onto the new reservations.
- Various native tribes will carry out resistance against government forces.
The Indian Wars
- Waged over a 30 year period.
- Many native tribes are simply attempting to escape the US government.
- The Nez Perce - Led by Chief Joseph, attempted to flee to Canada.
- The Battle of Little Bighorn
- One of the only native victories. Sioux warriors defeated an outnumbered US army
cavalry detachment under George Custer.
- The Wounded Knee Massacre
- Natives will turn to religion in their time of crisis. The Ghost Dance was a ceremony that
called upon the ancestors of the natives to help them end their persecution.
- The US army will attempt to disarm the natives, leading to a shootout. 200 natives
are slaughtered.
- This horrific massacre will break the Natives will to resist.
- The Plains Wars End.
A Change in Policy
- Helen Hunt Jackson - writes A
Century of Dishonor detailing the
horrors committed against
- As a result the US rethinks its policies.
Congress will pass the Dawes Severalty
Act to change policy from
concentration to assimilation.
- Each native family will be given 160
acres and after 25 years of working it,
they will receive citizenship.
- Assimilation will attempt to destroy
native culture and supplant it with
white culture.
- Kill the Indian, Save the Man -
hangs in the Carlisle School.
Factors Ending the Plains Way of Life
- Destroy Buffalo
- Bring out settlers, miners, etc.
Discovery of gold/silver on Indian lands
Disease & Firewater
Indian Wars
- Either killed them OR Survivors forced to move to reservations (Dakota and Oklahoma)
The New South
- Following the Civil War, the South will begin the process of rebuilding
- Much of the focus will be on building self-sufficiency, new industry and a modern
transportation network.
- Many Southern cities will experience a great deal of success.
- Birmingham, AL - Will become a leading steel production center.
- Memphis, TN - Lead the way for southern lumber production.
- Richmond, VA - Tobacco center of the world.
- Much of the South benefits from an abundance of cheap labor and will outpace the
Northeast as the textile capital of the US.
- Railroad construction will be rapid and will outpace the rest of the
Birmingham Steel Mill
- Even with the growth, the South will remain largely agricultural and poor.
- Farmers relied heavily on financing from northern banks, and northern investment firms
owned most southern railroads and heavy industry.
- Therefore money flowed from South to North. Most Southern workers made less
than half of their northern counterparts.
- The majority of Southerners were also still uneducated and illiterate. A lack of skilled
craftsmen prevented access to many economic opportunities.
- Cotton production will still be a staple of the South
- Foreign competition and overproduction will drive prices down.
- Farmers are at an economic disadvantage and racial prejudice will prevent them from
ever uniting to combat their economic issues.
- After the end of Reconstruction, Redeemer Democrats will control politics
in the South.
- They will use racial fears to turn public attention away from general poverty and the
plight of tenant farmers (many of whom were white.)
- The Supreme Court will aid the Democrats in their quest by striking down
most of the civil rights legislation of the Reconstruction Era.
- Civil Rights Cases of 1883 - Congress cannot legislate against racial discrimination by
private citizens.
- Plessy v. Ferguson - upheld separate but equal and empowered most Southern states to
pass Jim Crow or segregation laws prohibiting the use of public facilities by non-whites.
- Discrimination will take many
- Literacy tests will be used to
prevent many freedmen from
voting. Grandfather clauses will
be used to ensure uneducated
whites could still vote.
- Many states barred African
Americans from serving on
- Lynch mobs kill more than 1,400
men in the 1890s.
- Economic discrimination
prevents African Americans from
getting goods jobs and learning
trade skills.
Problems in Agriculture
- By the end of the 19th century, for the first time farmers are a minority in
US society.
- Farming is becoming increasingly industrialized.
- Small farmers are driven out of business by much larger, cash crop focused farms that
can undercut their prices.
- Prices are declining rapidly
- International competition drives down prices as the market is glutted with supply.
- Increasingly serious moves towards a gold backed economy decreases the money supply
and causes deflation.
- As a result, farmers need to take high interest mortgages and grow larger crops.
- This worsens the issue of oversupply, lowers prices and begins a death spiral for
farmers - many of whom will end up a tenant farmers or sharecroppers.
- Rising Costs
- Farmers feel they are taken advantage of for a variety of reasons.
- Large, monopolistic, trusts control the market and keep prices high.
- Middlemen take a cut of their profits.
- Railroads, warehouses and elevators took most of what was left.
- Taxes also appeared unfair.
- High property taxes on farmers while little income taxes on stocks and bonds.
- High tariffs benefited industry while keeping the price of goods high for farmers.
Farmer Resistance
- To resist farmers will form various cooperatives to
- The National Grange Movement
- A social and economic collective of farmers - they will create
cooperatives that cut out middle men to save costs.
- They will also use political pressure to get state legislatures to
regulate railroad rates.
- This will be reaffirmed by Munn v. Illinois.
- These advances are reversed by Wabash v. Illinois.
- Only Congress can regulate interstate trade.
- Congress responds to the outrage of farmers by pass the Interstate Commerce
- Requires railroad rates to be fair and just, however the ICC will lose most
of its court cases and will be used mostly to eliminate costly railroad
- Ocala Platform
- A meeting of farmers alliances in Florida in 1890.
- They call for
- Direct Election of US senators
- lower tariff rates
- a graduated income tax
- a new, federally regulated, banking system
- silver backed currency to raise the amount of money in circulation, therefore raising
inflation and prices.
- They stop short of creating a political party, however their ideas will be picked up by the
Populist movement in the 1890s and will play a major roles in the watershed elections of
1892 and 1896.