WESTWARDEXPANSION FROM 1860 TO 1890
Kingdomsin the past often expanded their territories to get more land totill, graze their animals, and develop their cities. Westwardexpansion occurred in the United States where the kingdom acquiredterritories across the whole of the North American Continent from theAtlantic Ocean in the eastern part all the way to the Pacific Oceanin the west. The success of Westward Expansion was through wars,buying land, treaties, and the displacement of the originalinhabitants who were Native American Indians. The idea of WestwardExpansion began in 1845 when James Polk, who was the president, cameup with the notion of the Manifest Destiny of the United States.Manifest Destiny is the imperialistic expansion of American landwestward, which was ideally believed to be the American dream1.However, this paper describes the Westward Expansion between from theyear 1860 to 1890.
Afterthe Civil War, Native Americans were allowed to have small lands.Americans lived in the Eastern area occupying the land, which theyused for farming and keeping livestock, specifically buffalos. TheU.S. government discarded its policy of treating much of the west asa large Indian reserve during the early 1860s. The governmentintroduced a system of small, separate tribal reservations, whereIndians were to be relocated. Some of the Indian tribes acceptedtheir fate however, some ethnic groups, having approximately apopulation of over 100,000 resisted. These tribes waged war againstthe U.S. Army to protect their lands in the west.
Therailroad was concentrated only on the major cities in the easternpart with no connection to the west. The building of thetranscontinental railroad to connect east to west across the UnitedStates began in 18622.The Pacific Railroad Act chartered the Union Pacific and CentralPacific railroad companies to construct the railway line to connectthe east to the west. The two companies raced to cover many miles toearn more.
By1869, the Union Pacific and Central Pacific completed theconstruction of a railway line that connected Chicago in the eastwith San Francisco in the west. The railroad enabled people to movefrom east to the west within a short period. The rail shortened thejourney of traveling from east coast to west coast. It tookapproximately 5 to 8 months to travel by wagons. However, theintroduction of rail reduced the journey to a one week trip.
Duringthe period from 1860 to 1870, the Native Americans resisted the moveby Americans to confine them in reservations. These Indian tribesengaged in constant wars with the non-Indians. They raided theAmerican settlements and attacked troop installments throughout thelate 1860s to 1870s. In 1874, there was a fierce battle referred asthe Red River War where the Cheyennes in Kansas engaged Americantroops.
InJune 1876, Colonel George Armstrong Custer and his army were killedby Sioux forces in the Battle of Little Bighorn while trying tocontrol the Great Plains and concentrate all Indians toreservations3.Custer unwisely divided his troops that were subdued by Indians whowere superior in numbers killing him and all his forces. After thisterrible defeat, the army employed a new strategy of harassing Siouxbands in a battle of abrasion. These military tactics becamesuccessful in subduing the Sioux and other tribes throughout the westmaking Indians to gradually lose their will to resist.
In1887, the United States government passed the Dawes Severalty Act,which called for the discarding of the reservations. The Act alsocalled for the treatment of Indians as individuals instead of dealingwith them as tribes. The Dawes Act provided for the distribution of320 acres of grazing land or 160 acres of farmland to any Indian whoaccepted to comply with the law. Such Indians would finally becomethe citizens of the United States after 25 years. The goal was tohold Indians to merge into the white society however, the Act aidedin the creation of Federally-dependent Indians.
Inlate 1880, the Sioux were desperate and resorted to distressed meansof reclaiming their original land. They decided to visit ProphetWovoka who recommended that they should perform a ghost dance4.Therefore, Indians gathered in bands and performed their ritual toreaffirm their culture. The military officials and other Indianexecutives were suspicious of the move and attempted to arrest Siouxwar hero, Chief Sitting Bull. During the skirmishes, Sitting Bull wasaccidentally shot outside the cabin.
TheMassacre at Wounded Knee in 1887 marked the end of Indian resistancewhere American troops killed approximately 300 adult Indians and sixchildren. The massacre was a symbolic final step of the quest forconquering the west. The Indians were finally subdued and moved toreservation areas throughout the next coming years. By early 1890s,the Americans had constructed different railroads to connect variousparts within the plains and developed new cities such Omaha,Minneapolis, New Orleans, and Denver.
Bicknell,John. America1844: Religious fervor, westward expansion, and the presidentialelection that transformed the nation.Chicago Review Press, 2014.
Brinkley,Alan. TheUnfinished Nation: A Concise History of the American People, VolumeI.Vol. 11. McGraw-Hill, 2015.
Zinn,Howard. Apeople`s history of the United States.Boxtree, 2016.
1 Zinn, Howard. A people`s history of the United States. Boxtree, 2016.
2 Brinkley, Alan. The Unfinished Nation: A Concise History of the American People, Volume I. Vol. 11. McGraw-Hill, 2015.
3 Bicknell, John. America 1844: Religious fervor, westward expansion, and the presidential election that transformed the nation. Chicago Review Press, 2014.
4 Zinn, Howard. A people`s history of the United States. Boxtree, 2016