American west

American west revision cards :D

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  • Created on: 03-05-10 17:17

Indian religion

Indian Religion

· The Sioux believed in Wakan Tanka, the great spirit.

· Circles were very important they believed in the circle of nature

· They believed that you could not own land and rarely used it for farming.

· Some places were specifically sacred, for example that black hills.

· They believed one way to contact the spirit world was through visions.

Medicine man was a name given by non-Indians to an Indian shaman. They believed that medicine men could cure illness as they could use the power of the spirits.

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Why go west? and Dangers!

· Economic depression

· Price of wheat and corn had collapsed-affected farmers in the Midwest

· Some farmers in the Mississippi valley began to feel crowded

· The west had HUGE amounts of land

· In the early 1840’s reports came from the east saying how wonderful it was.

Dangers faced when travelling west

· Mountains

· Lack of food

· Hostile Indians

· Weather conditions

All of these often lead to Disease.

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California gold rush

  • January 1848 gold was found in the sierra foothills.
  • Sam Brannan set up a store next to the site and went back to San Francisco to tell then all about it.
  • When most people got there nearly all the gold was gone and they faced major disappointments.
  • Mining towns sprang up and where often just a dusty road. People lived in shacks and diarrhoea and scurvy where common.
  • Saloons sprang up so drinking was very common
  • Gambling was so common there were even tables set up on the streets.
  • Most miners ended up passing over their earnings to those who owned the stores, or prostitutes.
  • By 1852 gold in California had gone, it could not be reached without heavy duty machinery.
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California gold rush cont.

  • Law and order was often an issue as these towns sprang up quickly and had no police force.
  • Mining towns often attracted the “dregs of society” and claim jumping was common.
  • They drew up a mining code so claims to mines had to be recorded with the district recorder and disputes over claims had to be dealt with by a committee of miners.
  • A sheriff would be appointed to arrest the person and the committee of miners would decide on their punishment.
  • The trials did not take long and the most common punishments were hanging, flogging or banishment.
  • Their were lots of different races that were miners and this often lead to tensions, attacks and murders.
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  • Joseph Smith claimed to have been visited by an angel and that their was a book with gold plates that he must dig up from a hillside giving an account of the former inhabitants of the continent and the source from which they sprang.
  • Smith claimed no-one else had seen the plates and that he was returning them to the hillside. They were very unpopular in New York State as people thought he was a fraud who was only trying to make money and the clergy denounced the book of Mormon as blasphemous.
  • His house was attacked by mobs and he and his followers were shot at in the street.
  • After praying for guidance he moved with his followers to the village of Kirtland Ohio.
  • The Mormons did extremely well in Kirtland.
  • They worked hard and eventually owned a shop, a mill and a printing press.
  • Soon numbers of Mormons over took numbers of Non-Mormons and people did not like this.
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mormons cont.

  • When the banks collapsed in 1837 the Mormons were blamed and chased out of Kirtland.
  • Joseph Smith and his followers fled to Missouri. But they were no more popular there.
  • In the winter of 1838 the Mormons moved to Nauvoo Illinois, all went well until Smith claimed to have a vision in which it was said Mormons could have more than one wife.
  • Some of the Mormons though this was wrong and denounced Smith as a false prophet.
  • They complained about him in the newspaper they wrote
  • He destroyed the newspaper and this lead to claims that he was a dictator.
  • He was imprisoned
  • Once news of Polygamy reached non-Mormons they were outraged. They thought it was immoral and would lead to a rapid increase in the number of Mormons.
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mormons cont.

  • A mob soon shot Smith dead and people roamed around the countryside looking for Mormons. There was even talk of an attack on Nauvoo.
  • They could have defended Nauvoo they did have an army but their new leader had other ideas.
  • Brigham Young was the new leader of the Mormons. He decide that until they moved somewhere out of the way that no-one wanted they would not be left in peace. So he found the Great Salt Lake.
  • He was a very good organiser and they prepared to leave all winter. They were set up into a number of wagon trains separated into about 100 wagons.
  • As young travelled with the first wagon train they set up camps as they went for those following. When in June 1846 they reached the Missisourie River Young set up the winter quarters.
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mormons cont

  • That winter was tough the weather was harsh many people died due to plague and cold.
  • In 1847 young lead a pioneer band of 143 men, women and children who were all chosen for their endurance. Their job was to lead the way and choose a suitable place to select a site for the Mormon settlement.
  • At the great salt lake Young still had problem to overcome
  • He decided that their would be no individual ownership of water or land. The church allotted everyone their own farm land according to needs.
  • After some time the American fought a war with Mexico in which they won new territories. Salt Lake City was part of this. The applied to call their state Deseret but were not allowed. Instead the government said they could create Utah. Smaller than Deseret but Young was named as the first governor.
  • For the Mormon settlement to develop any more people were needed. The perpetual emigration was set up the pay for convert’s passage to the Great Salt Lake.
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mormons cont

  • There was a Mormon war in which the Mormons fought the US army as they thought they were coming to attack them.
  • There was trouble with some immigrants and the Mormons and Indians massacred them in the Mountain meadow massacre. The story got out and the American government moved in.
  • They government offered a full pardon if they would accepted the authority of the US government.
  • They did and then had a gentile governor.
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Homesteaders and Ranchers

Why did so many people want to settle on the plains?

· Homestead act 1862 160 acres

· Timber culture act 1873 another 160 acres

· Desert land act 1877 right to buy 640 acres cheaply in areas where lack of rainfall was a problem.

· End of the American civil war-soldiers looking to rebuild their lives

· Building of the transcontinental railroad.

· Easy to get to the plains/ made land cheap

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Homesteaders and Ranchers

How did homesteader survive on the plains?


  • Water shortages
  • Extremes of weather
  • Fuel
  • Dirt and disease
  • Building materials Problems of farming on the plains
  • Water shortages
  • Extremes of weather
  • Ploughing
  • Protecting crops
  • Growing crops
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Homesteaders and Ranchers


· Wind pumps

· Dry Framing

· Growing a surplus

· Turkey red wheat

· Barbed wire

· Sod-buster

· Other machinery

What did women do on the homesteads?

· Cooking

· Cleaning

· Framing

· Collecting cattle chips

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Cattle Industry

· There were a lot of cattle in the west- due to the civil war and little food in the east.

· The Texas longhorns carried a disease called Texas fever which was spread by the ticks that lived on the cattle.

· If Texans tried to drive their cattle north they would be turned back by homesteaders afraid that their cattle would catch diseases too.

· The solution was provided by the railroads-the cattle were driven to a town near the railroads and then taken east. Joseph McCoy created the cow town of Abilene.

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Ranching of the Plains

Why was unfenced ranching on the plains successful?

  • Plains Indians were defeated and confined to reservations
  • Buffalo that had previously grazed were gone
  • If Texas long horns were kept on the plains during the winter the cold would kill the disease carrying ticks
  • The railroads that were crossing the plains were able to take cattle to market.
  • End of the open range
  • Falling beef prices
  • Cattle died in icy blizzards
  • Johnson county war
  • Many cattle men had gone bankrupt
  • Barbed wire
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Violence in the west

  • Political factors- shortage of reliable law and politicians did not think it important enough to spend more money employing and training more police
  • Social factors- racial conflicts and civil war related disputes
  • Values and attitudes- Code of honour/people would not back down
  • Economic factors- cowboys v towns people, cattle baron v homesteader ect
  • Geographical factors- area was very large and transport very slow so it was hard to enforce law.
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Violence in the West

  • Types of crime-Cattle rustling/claim jumping/ fence cutting/ horse stealing/ bank robbery / shootings/ racial attacks/ / robbery/ train robbery
  • Forces of law and order-US Marshalls/town marshals sheriffs/Texas rangers/Pinkerton detective agency /judges
  • Vililantes- Were groups who took the law into their own hands and might run people out of town or lynch them.
  • Sometimes good but often over zealous and caused revenge attacks and more violence.
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Plains Indians and US army wars

· Little Crows war

· The Indians were moved onto reservations, but life was hard and when their crops were killed they had to live on credit.

· But when their annual cash payment did not arrive in June 1862 their credit at the government store stopped.

· The Sioux were then unable to buy food and the situation grew worse and the threat of violence grew.

· After violence had broken out between some of his people and some settlers red cloud led an attack on the Indian agency.

· There was more fighting after this but the soiux became more split up and less effective.

· After 700 settlers were killed y various Sioux the army sent heavy reinforcements in and the Sioux realised they could not win. Eventually they surrendered.

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Plains Indians and US army wars

· Red Clouds war

· Gold found in the Rockies- people went to claim it this broke the existing peace treaty.

· Red clouds attacks he army after peace talks broke off.

· Governments forced to admit defeat after red clouds makes travellers unable to travel.

· The US army agreed to withdraw from the forts under the forts &the fort Laramie treaty was created and so was the great Indian reservation.

· Red cloud agreed to this.

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The Plains Indians and US army wars

· Great Sioux war

· An expedition of cavalry went into the black hills-reported it to be filled with gold- lots of miners came.

· This broke the fort Laramie treaty

· Sioux attacked some miners

· Sioux were ordered back to their reservation

· But it was winter so they couldn’t even had they been willing.

· By February 1976 the army was instructed to treat all Indians outside the reservation as hostile.

· The army mounted a campaign, this lead to the battle of the little big horn. A major loss for the army.

· After this embaressment the bands where followed and attacked throughout the autumn and winter.

· One by one the bands gave in and returned to the reservation.

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Was the US army well equipped for war with the Pla

  • Enlisted men- were generally poor-a lot of drunkenness and desertion.
  • Forts-were good and helped inflict military defeat on the plains Indians.
  • Indian Scouts-where invaluable in helping them learn about Indian war ECT.
  • Impact of the civil war- meant that regular soldier were sent to fight and the remaining volunteers were often poorly trained and made things with the Indians worse e.g. Sand creek massacre.
  • New strategies-total war & winter campaigns
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Mariam Elwakeel


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Khatija Sarfraz


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Ashleigh Higgs


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