Chapter 13
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The West(1877-1900)


White settlers increased after 1850

Need for more land


Discovered that land was good for farming

Escape the Civil War


Treaty of Fort Laramie(1868)

Forced Indians onto reservations

Black Hills


Indians fought back but were beaten for several reasons

Rifles vs. bows and arrows

Railroad lines split up Buffalo herds

Near elimination of the buffalo

Indians were promised that they could live in peace forever in these areas

The treaty was broken

Gold was discovered in the Black Hills

Thousands of whites came to Indian territory

Indians appealed to the United States Government

Government sent Seventh Cavalry led by George Armstrong Custer to remove Indians

Battle of Little Big Horn

Sioux Indian leader Sitting Bull put together an alliance between the Arapaho, the Cheyenne, and the Sioux

Crazy Horse was the Indian field commander

Custerís Last Stand

June 25, 1876

Custer and 215 men were killed

United States government sent thousands more troops to the frontier

By 1890 the Indian was no longer a threat

Either killed or on a reservation


Cattle drives

Cattle industry began in Mexico

Passed on to Americans through Texas

By the end of the Civil War there were over three million head in Texas

No railroads came to Texas so cattle had to be driven north where there was a railroad so it could be taken east

Original was Chisholm Trail to Abilene, Kansas

By 1872 Abilene was surrounded by farmers so trails were moved further westward

Life on the trail was dangerous and dull

Cowboys tended to cut loose when they got to their destination and got paid, then go back to Texas and do it all over again

With the disappearance of the Indians and the buffalo cattle ranches began to spring up all over the Plains

Two blizzards in 1885 and 1886 killed over one million head of cattle

Cows had to be cared for rather than left to roam the open range

Cattlemen began to buy their own grazing land rather than using open public land and fence it in

By 1890 the open range was fenced in and the days of the cattle drive were over


Homestead Act


Life very hard

Bad housing

Hard work



Inventions a mixed blessing

They made life easier but they cost money and many farmers bought them on credit putting them at the mercy of the banks and hoping prices would stay high

Barbed wire

Steel plow




Railroad Acts of 1862 and 1864 gave the Union Pacific and Central Pacific Railroad Companies 20 million acres of federal land and 60 million dollars in federal loans

Union Pacific built westward from Omaha and Central Pacific built eastward from Sacramento

Brought many people to the west

Employed many people after the Civil War as well as many Irish and Chinese immigrants

The two lines met in 1869 at Promontory Point, Utah

Golden spike driven

During 1870's and 1880's four more transcontinental railroads were built

Creation of time zones

Became a problem for farmers

Railroads could charge whatever they wanted to take crops to market because there was no competition

Farmers formed The Grange and voted as a block to get railroads declared a public utility

Fourteen states declared railroads a public utility and therefore subject to rate regulation

Munn v Illinois (1877)

Supreme Court said state laws were constitutional

Wabash case (1886)

Supreme Court said railroads were interstate commerce and only the federal government could regulate that

Congress passed the Interstate Commerce Act in 1887 which required railroad rates to be "reasonable and just"

Created the Interstate Commerce Commission

ICC did not really become effective until T. Roosevelt but established the principle that the government had a right to regulate private business for the public interest