Expansion Of The West Dbq

Submitted By brianna1923
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The mountains and plains that filled the western half of North America slowed down the settlement of this land (Document A). While going through the Great Plains in the center of the continent was easier than the mountains, it wasn’t necessarily easy either. In certain parts of the U.S. development happened rapidly rather by chance or with the help of the land while the majority of development was painfully slow. The geography of the western portion of the United States did play an important part in the expansion of the states, but it was not the only factor. In 1889, the great land rush occurred as a result of the government opening sections of land, previously known as no man’s land, to settlers from the east. There was a desire to move west and south of 49° (Document B). Many more of these races to expand followed as Indians were forced to leave their homes and thrown into reservations. The discovery of gold in California also prompted settlement of the west. Although most settlers weren’t successful in their search for gold, many did set up small towns in the meantime creating communities in the west. It was expected to find many widows and widowers during this time as many people lost their lives on this journey into the west. There were, however, acts passed to protect these people, especially the widows after their husbands had passed. In Wyoming, one act protected a woman’s independence and ownership of property after her husband had died so she would not lose her land and possibly her only source of income. Other acts gave women full citizenship including the right to vote (Document F). The Indian Removal Act of 1830 created more land for settlers by providing funds to relocate Indians. Many tribes learned and adapted to the culture of settling easterners. They learned to ride horses and shoot guns. To get food on their journey, settlers killed buffalo in the Great Plains. This impacted the Native Americans severely. Not only did the Indians use the buffalo for food, but used every part of the animal for things such as leather, clothing, and tools (Document H). Without the supply of buffalos, it is likely the Americans moving west would not have had sustainable resources along their journey (Document E). Battles with the Native Americans also slowed down expansion into the west. Wars such as the Sand Creek Massacre and the massacre at the Pine Ridge Reservation were a direct cause of the white man’s desire to expand. Many treaties with the Indians were broken in order to take over their land and to destroy their culture (Document H). The discovery of gold on the Nez Perce territory also gave the U.S. government a reason to seize Indian territory. Mining also became a reason for westward expansion. Deposits of gold, silver, and copper drew settlers, especially Chinese immigrants, into the west (Document C). Mining put the west on the map, economically speaking. As a result, mining towns became prominent. Due to diseases throughout these towns, the expensive equipment needed to mine, and the lack of minerals when the deposits were reached, many mining towns became ghost towns. This was also a result of disagreements between mine owners and workers. Many mines were shut down prompting the Caminetti act of 1893 which gave states the power to regulate mining. The ones that did remain became small cities that developed extremely slowly. Other factors such as the Homestead Act of 1862 prompted people to move into the west. This act stated that any settler who lived on the land for at least five years would be granted 160 acres of the public domain (Document G). Communities across the plains and all throughout the west were connected by the railroads which became a booming industry with the increase in expansion. These railroads preceded settlement and caused more people to travel