The Trans-Mississippi West

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During the “Gilded Age” period of American history, development of the Trans-Mississippi west was crucial to fulfilling the American dream of manifest destiny and creating an identity which was distinctly American. Since the west is often associated with rugged pioneers and frontiersmen, there is an overarching idea of hardy American individualism. However, although these settlers were brave and helped to make America into what it is today, they heavily relied on federal support. It would not have been possible for white Americans to settle the Trans-Mississippi west without the US government removing Native Americans from their lands and placing them on reservations, offering land grants and incentives for people to move out west, and the…show more content…
First of all, Native Americans were settled on a hotbed of natural resources which included oil and precious metals such as silver and gold. There was also much fertile land that would entice farmers and frontiersmen to move out west. On this land there was so much potential economic opportunity for farmers, cattle drivers, miners and many other occupations. The government developed the popular public misconception that the indians were misusing the land and that Americans had the right to take advantage of the opportunities that lie in the west. These ideas led to the Dawes Severalty Act of 1887 which authorized encroachment of Indian lands by the US government in order to divide up reservations and control Indian activity. The government tried to force assimilation on Native Americans as well as an attempt to “kill the indian, save the man.” These ideas and policies are similar to those popular during the presidency of Andrew Jackson. Jackson developed a sense of ‘paternalism’ towards indians and believed he was saving them by forcing them to live out west of the Mississippi river away from white culture. The difference was that Jackson did not believe in assimilation of indians into white culture, he believed they should be kept separate. With the help of the Federal government removing indians from land west of the Mississippi, Americans were…show more content…
The people who settled the west were greatly dependent on the US government and the policies they adopted. The settling of the west in the late 19th century was similar to the settlement of the south in the 1830’s. Andrew Jackson drove out the indians so that the valuable land of the south could be secured by white settlers. Once again, the federal government made it possible to settle the west by forcing indians off of their lands. A recurring theme in American history is manifest destiny and the attempt to develop unsettled lands by the federal government. Although the success is credited to the hardy individualism of settlers and pioneers, the reality is that nothing would have been possible without federal
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