Chapter 17: Chapter Outline

The following annotated chapter outline will help you review the major topics covered in this chapter.

Instructions: Review the outline to recall events and their relationships as presented in the chapter. Return to skim any sections that seem unfamiliar.

I. Conquest and Empire in the West
A. Indian Removal and the Reservation System

1. From the early days of the Republic, Americans advocated a policy of Indian removal that relocated eastern tribes to west of the Mississippi, promising that they could remain there permanently.
2. By the mid-nineteenth century, Manifest Destiny dictated U.S. policy and the government sought control of Indian lands, promising in return to place Indians on lands forever reserved for their use.
3. In 1851, ten thousand Plains Indians met at Fort Laramie, Wyoming, to negotiate a treaty that ceded a wide swath of their land to allow passage of wagon trains; the U.S. government promised that the rest of Indian lands would remain inviolate, but did not follow through with that promise.
4. Indian wars against white settlers in the West marked the last resistance of a Native American population devastated by disease and the destruction of their environment, and demoralized by the Indian removal policy.
5. In 1862, the starving Dakota Sioux in Minnesota went to war; under Chief Little Crow, the Sioux killed more than 1,000 white settlers before American troops quelled the uprising.
6. In November 1864, at Sand Creek, Colonel John Chivington and his local Colorado militia savagely killed 270 Cheyenne, including children, after the Indians had raised a white flag to surrender.
7. The Grant administration sought control of Indian lands and promised in return to pay annuities and maintain Indian reservations in order to segregate and control Indians without violence, but also because it opened up land to white settlers.
8. The U.S. army herded Indians onto reservations, but the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs was corrupt and badly managed; the Indians who were relocated to the reservations suffered from povery and starvation.
9. The reservations closely resembled colonial societies and became cultural battlegrounds on which outside bureaucrats attacked Indian ways of life in the name of progress and civilization; despite the actions of the U.S. government to assimilate the tribes, the Indians found ways to resist and hold onto their identities.

B. The Decimation of the Great Bison Herds and the Fight for the Black Hills

1. The Sioux staked their survival on buffalo but, by the nineteenth century, due to various factors—including Eastern demand for buffalo hides, the coming of the transcontinental railroad, and the impact of systematic buffalo hunting—the great herds fell into decline.
2. The decimation of the buffalo meant the end to the traditional way of life for many Plains Indian tribes, forcing them onto reservations.
3. Gold fever only further fueled the conflict between Indians and European Americans on the Northern plains.
4. The Cheyenne and Sioux united in 1866 to protect their hunting grounds in the Powder River Valley; their efforts led the United States to negotiate the second Treaty of Fort Laramie in 1868, which guaranteed Indians control of their sacred land in the Black Hills.
5. The discovery of gold in the Black Hills of the Dakotas led the federal government to break its promise to preserve that land as sacred to the Indians; miners and the Northern Pacific Railroad invaded the region.
6. Under the leadership of Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull, the Sioux tribes mounted a resistance, winning a pyrrhic victory against Lieutenant Colonel George Custer in 1876 in the Battle of the Little Big Horn.
7. In the five years that followed, Crazy Horse was killed, Sitting Bull surrendered, and the government had taken the Black Hills, confining the Lakota to the Great Sioux reservation.
8. The Sioux never accepted the loss of the Black Hills, filing suit and demanding compensation for lands illegally taken from them; in 1980, the Supreme Court granted $122.5 million in monetary compensation to the tribes, but the Sioux refused the settlement and continue to press for the return of the Black Hills.

C. The Dawes Act and Indian Land Allotment

1. The practice of relocating the Indians onto reservations lost momentum in the 1880s in favor of allotment—a new policy designed to encourage assimilation through farming and the ownership of private property.
2. Partly in response to critics of the reservation policy, Congress passed the Dawes Allotment Act in 1887 to abolish reservations and allot lands to individual Indians as private property.
3. Indian rights groups viewed the Dawes Act as a positive initiative, but the act effectively reduced Indian lands from 138 million acres to a scant 48 million.
4. The Dawes Act completed the dispossession of the western Indians and dealt a cripping blow to to traditional tribal cultures.

D. Indian Resistance and Survival
  1. Facing the extinction of their traditional ways of life, different groups of Indians responded in different ways in the waning decades of the nineteenth century.
2. The Crow, Arikara, Pawnee, and Shoshoni fought alongside the U.S. army against their old enemies the Sioux in an effort to hold onto their lands.
3. The Nez Perce attempted to flee to Canada to escape confinement on a reservation but surrendered to U.S. army soldiers after a five-day siege.
4. The Apache tribes in the Southwest resorted to armed resistance and perfected a hit-and-run guerrilla warfare that terrorized white settlers and bedeviled the army in the 1870s and 1880s.
5. In the 1880s, Geronimo repeatedly led Apache warrior raiding parties off the reservation, but eventually surrendered to General Nelson Miles.
6. The government arrested nearly 500 Apaches, though fewer than three dozen had been hostile, and sent them as prisoners to Florida, where more than a quarter of them died.
7. In 1892, the Apaches were moved to Fort Sill in Oklahoma and then later to New Mexico.
8. Many tribes turned to a nonviolent form of resistance—the new Ghost Dance religion.
9. Ghost Dances were generally nonviolent, but among the Sioux they took on a militant flavor, prompting President Benjamin Harrison to dispatch several thousand federal troops to Sioux country to handle any outbreak.
10. When Sitting Bull joined the Ghost Dancers in South Dakota in December 1890, he was shot and killed by Indian police as they tried to arrest him at his cabin on the Standing Rock Reservation.
11. A melee ensued, and the army opened fire on the Indians; minutes later, more than two hundred Sioux lay dead or dying in the snow.
12. It took Euro-Americans 250 years to wrest control of the eastern half of the United States from the Indians but took only 40 years to take the western half.
13. The subjugation of the Indian people provided Euro-Americans with empire-building experience that they would later use overseas in Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean, and the Pacific.

II. Gold Fever and the Mining West

A. Mining on the Comstock Lode

1. In 1859, refugees from California’s gold mines flocked to the Washoe basin in Nevada, where they found the richest silver ore on the continent—the legendary Comstock Lode.
2. Silver mining was an expensive operation that required capital and technological resources to exploit the claims.
3. Speculation, misrepresentation, and outright thievery ran rampant in the mining West during the latter half of the nineteenth century.
4. The promise of gold and silver drew thousands of men to the mines of the West, the honest as well as the unscrupulous.
5. The West also drew an international array of immigrants, including a large number of Irish immigrants, making Virginia City more cosmopolitan that either New York or Boston.
6. Irish and Irish American women constituted the largest group of women on the Comstock; conversely, the Chinese community was overwhelmingly male.
7. In 1873, Comstock miners uncovered a new vein of ore, prompting the transition from small-scale industry to corporate enterprise, creating a radically new social and economic environment.
8. New technology eliminated some of the dangers of mining but not all; in the 1870s, one out of 30 miners was injured on the job and one out of 80 killed.
9. Although the mining towns of the Wild West were often depicted as lawless outposts, these places were often urbanized and industrialized.

B. Territorial Government
  1. The federal government practiced a policy of benign neglect toward  territorial government in the West.
2.Because of its mines, Nevada became a state in 1864, but many areas remained territories for decades, during which time they were subject to territorial governors, who were underpaid, often unqualified, and largely ignored by Washington.
3. Territorial governors’ paychecks arrived inconsistently and they frequently had to pay government expenses out of their own pockets.
4. Nearly all territorial appointees tried to make ends meet by maintaining business connections in the East or by investing in the West.
5. Underfunded and overlooked, territorial government was rife with conflicts of interest and corruption, mirroring the political and economic values (or lack thereof) of the late nineteenth century.
C.   The Diverse Peoples of the West
  1. Like the big cities of the East, the West in the late nineteenth century was a widely diverse place populated by New Englanders, Mormons, African Americans, Mexicans, and Latinos as well as immigrants from Europe, Asia, and Canada.
2. The sheer number of peoples who came together in the West produced a complex blend of racism and prejudice.
3. African Americans who ventured out to the territories faced hostile settlers determined to keep the West for “whites only.”
4. Black “buffalo” soldiers who served in the Indian wars frequently remained as settlers; some founded all black communities such as Nicodemas, Kansas.
5. Hispanics also suffered from discrimination, as fraud, chicanery, and intimidation dispossessed them of their land and forced them into segregated urban barrios.
6. Mormons were another of the West’s oppressed groups, ostracized for their practice of polygamy.
7. The Chinese suffered brutal treatment at the hands of employers and other laborers; by 1870, over 63,000 Chinese immigrants lived in America , but they were denied access to citizenship, paid substandard wages, and scapegoated during the economic depression of the 1870s.
8. In 1876, the Workingman’s Party formed to fight for Chinese exclusion and in 1882, Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act, effectively barring further Chinese immigration; the predominantly male Chinese population declined, eventually replaced by Japanese immigrants.
9. The American West in the nineteenth century witnessed more than its share of conflict and bloodshed.
10. Violent prejudice against Chinese and other Asian immigrants remained common, but conflicts also broke out between cattle ranchers and sheep ranchers, between ranchers and farmers, between striking miners and their bosses, among rival Indian groups, and between whites and Indians.

III. Land Fever

A. Moving West: Homesteaders and Speculators

1. People who ventured west faced hardship, loneliness, and deprivation.
2. Blizzards, tornadoes, grasshoppers, hailstorms, drought, prairie fires, accidental death, and disease were only a few of the catastrophes that could befall even the best farmer.3. Homesteaders who settled on land granted by the federal government still needed as much as $1,000 for a house, a team of farm animals, a well, fencing, and seed.
4. For women on the frontier, simple daily tasks such as obtaining water and fuel meant backbreaking labor.
5. Some were successful even though, by the 1870s, much of the best land was taken and the least desirable tracts were left for homesteaders.
6. The railroads were by far the biggest winners in the scramble for western land.
7. As land grew scarce on the prairie in the 1870s, farmers began to push farther west, moving into western Kansas, Nebraska, and eastern Colorado—an area known as the Great American Desert.
8. Farmers attempted to cultivate the region but cyclical droughts in the 1880s and 1890s sent starving farmers reeling back from the plains.
9. The opening of the Oklahoma territory in 1889 brought as many as 10,000 settlers in one day.

B. Ranchers and Cowboys
  1. Between 1865 and 1885, cattle ranchers followed the railroads onto the plains, establishing a cattle kingdom from Texas to Wyoming.
2. Barbed wire revolutionized the cattle business: as the largest ranchers in Texas began to build fences, nasty fights broke out with “fence cutters,” who resented the end of the free range.
3. On the range, the cowboys (many of whom were African American) gave way to the cattle king and, like miners, became wage laborers.
4. By 1886, cattle overcrowded the range but severe blizzards during the winters of 1886–87 and 1887–88 decimated the herds; in the aftermath of the storms, new and more labor-intensive forms of cattle ranching replaced the open-range model.
C. Tenants, Sharecroppers, and Migrants
  1. Many who followed the American promise into the West prospered, but land ownership proved an elusive goal for freed slaves, immigrants from Europe and Asia, and Mexicans in California and on the Texas border.
2. Some freed slaves managed to pull together enough resources to go west, but most remained propertyless farm laborers.
3. In California, skilled horsemen—Mexican cowboys called vaqueros—commanded decent wages until the 1870s, when the coming of the railroads ended the long cattle drives and the need for the vaqueros’ skills, forcing them to become migrant laborers, often on land their families had once owned.
4. After the heyday of cattle ranching ended in the late 1880s, cotton production began its rise in southeastern Texas, and ranch life soon gave way to a growing army of agricultural wageworkers.
5. In California, land monopoly and large-scale farming fostered tenancy and migratory labor.
D. Commercial Farming and Industrial Cowboys
  1. In the late nineteenth century, America ’s population remained overwhelmingly rural and new technology and farming techniques revolutionized American farm life.
2. As the rural population decreased, the number of farms rose and American agriculture entered the era of agribusiness; as farming moved onto the prairies and plains, mechanization took control and farming emerged as a big business.
3. Like cotton farmers in the South, western grain and livestock farmers increasingly depended on foreign markets for their livelihood.
4. Commercial farming, along with mining, represented another way in which the West developed its own brand of industrialism.
5. Two Alsatian immigrants, Henry Miller and Charles Lux, pioneered the West’s mixture of agriculture and business, developing investment strategies and corporate structures to control not only California land but water rights as well.
6. Their company shared the main characteristics of other modern enterprises: corporate consolidation, vertical integration, and schemes to minimize labor costs and stabilize the workforce.
7. By the end of the nineteenth century, agriculture had been transformed: The typical farmer was no longer a self-sufficient yeoman but was tied to global industrial markets as either a businessman or a wage laborer.