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The Wild, Wild West - Populists
Transcript of The Wild, Wild West - Populists
Alexis de Tocqueville
Frenchman sent to study US prison system.
Noticed the US was different from Europe; recorded observations in a book.
"Democracy in America," 1835 - values AdT thought made US successful:
- Egalitarianism (equality)
- Populism (popular sovereignty)
Opening of Indian Territory
OK Land Rush: Fed gov't made land available in OK - 4/22/1889 was move-in date.
"Sooners" went before date.
Miners & Cows
Mining strikes --> Settlements called Boom Towns.
- Prostitution, saloons, vigilante justice
- Became ghost towns after gold/silver dried up
Impact of Mining:
- Attracted people
- Women found work in W.
- Silver discoveries played role in politics
Mexicans taught Americans cattle ranching.
Texans raised cattle & herded them N to railroad
Cowboys: personalities for rough, tough lifestyle
Overgrazing, barbed wire ended cattle trails
no trees, open spaces
lived in soddies
created new technology (barbed wire, dry farming, new tools) --> mass production.
But There Were Problems...
Drought, bugs, weather, failed crops, etc,
Overproduction b/c of new tools/mass production
Foreign Competition; Tariffs
Deflation of $ supply (good for rich/lenders, bad for debtors)
RR monopolies allowed RR companies to charge high rates to farmers
Poor organizational skills
Pre-Populist Farmer's Movements:
The Grange: formed cooperatives; gov't passed laws in favor of farmers (eventually overturned).
Farmer's Alliance: Fought mostly railroads & manufacturers.
Creation of the Populist Party
3rd party that grew out of Farmer's Alliance in 1890s
The "People's Party": united farmers, laborers
Economic Reform - "silverites" (unlimited coinage of silver, increase $ supply); progressive income tax
Political Reform - direct election of Senators
Social Reform - 8hr work day, immigration limits
1887 - Interstate Commerce Act (ICC): gov't regulates RR
1890 - Sherman Anti-Trust Act: curb power of trusts/monopolies
1892 election - Populists get almost 10% of vote
1896 Election - William McKinley vs. William Jennings Bryan
(gold standard (R) vs free silver (D))
Panic of 1893 made main issue of election the money supply
Bryan gave his "Cross of Gold" speech to explain the need for more silver in $$ supply
Democrats divided by silver issue; McKinley wins election
The Legacy of Populism
After 1896 election, Populism collapsed.
Suffering Americans can organize & be heard
Many of their ideas adopted by Progressives and eventually
Push Factors: A desire to escape problems
Pull Factors: A belief that opportunity awaits
Gold & Other Minerals
Differences Between Eastern & Western US
Homestead Act of 1862:
Gave 160 acres of (almost) free land to families to settle in the Great Plains
Must do something productive with land within 5 yrs (attractive to farmers.
MASSIVE cause of westward expansion
nomads who lived in family groups, followed main food source - buffalo
Live in communes - communal living
As people move west, conflict between Native Americans and settlers increase.
Native Americans forced to relocate
Treaties regarding land broken.
Buffalo killed for sport, vastly limiting Native American food supply.
Battles occurred between settlers and Native Americans - known as the "Indian Wars"
Sand Creek Massacre
Prospectors looking for gold & silver came in conflict with Arapaho & Cheyenne tribes in CO.
Native Americans burned & raided homes of new settlers, 100s of settlers killed.
Chief Black Kettle & Cheyenne were waiting at Sand Creek to discuss peace agreement with US Army.
Cheyenne were attacked while waiting for discussions, anywhere between 70-600 Native Americans killed.
Battle of Little Bighorn
Prospectors moved into Black Hills for gold - Sioux territory.
The Sioux left their reservation to hunt buffalo & expand influence in region.
Gen. George Custer & his cavalry attacked group but were defeated and all were killed.
Government took the Black Hills from the Sioux and relocated many of them to reservations.
Tragedy at Wounded Knee
Sioux performed a Ghost Dance against wishes of the US Government which banned ceremony.
Chief Sitting Bull promoted the ceremony & was to be arrested, but his supporters attempted to stop the army.
Gun fire exchanged, Sitting Bull killed.
Days later, another battle left 200+ Native American men, women & children dead.
Belief that Native Americans should abandon their culture & tradition & assimilate to the "American Way".
Indian Boarding Schools created - learned English, had to pick English names, dress in American-style clothes.
Americanization, pt. 2
1887: Dawes Act - abandoned reservation system gave Native Americans plots of land for their own use.
Many struggled to succeed on this land & leased it to settlers moving west.
1924: Native American Citizenship Act passed.