Key Issue 3 Law & Order

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People who moved west onto the plains were known as homesteaders and their houses were called Sodhouses

Why Did They Move West:

  • Railroad companies gave land at cheap prices = influx of homesteaders 
  • 1862 Homestaeders act by the government to encourage people to populate the west by giving 160 acres of land for free as long as they farm it for 5 years
  • Demoabilised Civil war soldiers and blacks went to the west to rebuild their lives
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Impact Of Homesteaders On Native Americans

After the Civil War the government broke treaties with plains indians that confimed the great plains was 'indian terriotry'

Forced 'indians' to accept smaller areas, called reservations. U.S army protected new settlers and controlled the Indians.

Plain Indians traditional way of life was affected because the railroad disrupted the great buffalo herd

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Manifest Destiny

Many individuals and the U.S government came to believe it was their god given right to expand across the continent.

How Manifest Destiny was applied:

  • Money invested into transcontinental railways to connect east to the west.
  • Homesteader + immigrants  began to move to the west
  • Oregan and california were obtained by U.S government, government encouraged people to move their
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Law and Order In The West

Problems of law and order:

  • Vigilantes - people who took law into their own hands
  • Cattle Rustling - (people steal other peoples cattle)
  • Poverty - people resorted to depserate measures
  • Cattle barons - juries could be bribed and citizens were scared to speak out
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  • If someone commited crime they punished them by lynching or running them out of town
  • Dealt with robbers that were not dealt with by sherrifs, e.g: montana gang


  • Punish unfarily 
  • They discriminate, e.g mexican women killed miner who molested her and was hung, if she was white she would have been praised
  • gave unfaire trial


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Dime novels = were exaggerated to entertain the audience, but based on real people

Viginian = based on real characters but stories were widely exagerated 

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Winter - taking daily rides to stop cattle driffting onto open plains

Spring - rounded up cattle and went bog riding

Summer - they went onto trail drives to market

Had to endure much hardships on the plaisn including:

  • being trampled in a stampede
  • attacks from native americans warriors
  • rain, hail and the burnign sun 
  • drowing
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