Western Frontier: 1870-1915 Flashcards Preview

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A boomtown is a community that experiences exponential growth in population and wealth in a short period.

Boomtowns accompanied the discovery of mineral wealth in the West, such as the discovery of gold in California in 1849, silver in Nevada in the 1860s and 1870s, and the Black Hills of South Dakota in the 1870s and 1880s.


What were longdrives?

Long drives were cattle drives. Cowboys guided huge herds of longhorns from cattle ranches in Texas, Colorado, and Nebraska to rail yards in Kansas, where they were shipped east to slaughterhouses.

The era of the long drives ended in the 1890s as railroads expanded their lines to cattle-ranching states.


What were sodbusters?

The sodbusters were those who took advantage of the Homestead Act of 1862 to acquire 160 acres on the Great Plains.

Many of these farmers were immigrants, with little experience in farming. The work was difficult; plagues of locusts destroyed growing crops, and the soil proved to be difficult to work and wore out easily.


How did the first Indian reservation system develop?

In the 1830s, Indians had been relegated to the areas west of the Mississippi River, but were allowed freedom of movement. In the 1850s the Indians were assigned ("reserved") to tracts of land with definite boundaries, a process which increased during the post-Civil War period.


What happened at the Sand Creek Massacre?

At Sand Creek, Colorado members of the Colorado Militia attacked a joint Arapahoe and Cheyenne Indian village, killing between 70 and 130 Indians, most of them women and children.


The influx of gold miners to South Dakota during the Black Hills Gold Rush in 1876 led to the outbreak of what conflict?

The Great Sioux War

The Sioux resented the incursion of white miners onto their reservations. Led by Chief Crazy Horse, the Sioux had several early successes, including wiping out General Custer and the Seventh U.S. Cavalry at the Battle of Little Bighorn.

By 1877, an overwhelming number of forces and a loss at the Battle of Wolf Mountain induced the Sioux to surrender and return to their reservations.


In 1877, the _____ _____ Tribe refused to vacate their lands in the Pacific Northwest and move to an Idaho reservation.

Nez Perce

The Army's attempt to force the Nez Perce onto reservation land led to a 1,150-mile pursuit, 18 engagements, and four major battles, until the Nez Perce Tribe surrendered.

Chief Joseph, the most famous of the Nez Perce, gave his famous speech "I Will Fight No More Forever" at the surrender.


What Indian policy did the government establish in the Dawes Act of 1887?

Under the Dawes Act of 1887, lands belonging to the Indian tribes were surveyed and allotted to individual Indians and lands deemed to be "excess" were confiscated and sold to white settlers by the government.


What was the Ghost Dance movement?

The Ghost Dance movement, which achieved its zenith in the 1890s, was an Indian spiritual movement that incorporated numerous Indian belief systems.

Viewed as a threat by most whites, the Ghost Dance movement was outlawed.


What was the Battle of Wounded Knee?

The Battle of Wounded Knee took place in 1890, and was more of a massacre than a battle. On the banks of Wounded Knee Creek, U.S. soldiers killed 135 Sioux Ghost Dance practitioners.

Following the Wounded Knee massacre, the Ghost Dance movement ended.


Who led the Apaches in their efforts to resist Army attempts to force them onto a barren reservation in the American Southwest?


Geronimo led Apache raids on both Mexican and American settlements for over 30 years. In 1886, Geronimo surrendered to U.S. troops after a long campaign.


What was the effect of the near-extinction of the buffalo on the Indian way of life?

The nomadic tribes of the Great Plains followed the migration patterns of the buffalo, and depended on the animal for everything from food to clothing. With the near-extinction of the buffalo, the nomadic way of life came to an end.

The buffalo was driven to near-extinction from a combination of overhunting by whites and the limitations on grazing land brought about by increased white settlement of the Great Plains.


What was the goal of federal Indian policy during the later half of the 19th century?

The goal of federal Indian policy was assimilation, incorporating the Indians into the American way of life. Assimilation policies led to attempts to convert the Indians forcibly to Christianity, and to Indian boarding schools, where young Indians were taken from their families and forcibly taught white culture.

The most famous of the Indian schools was the Carlisle School in Pennsylvania. Carlisle had an outstanding football program; Jim Thorpe, a football star and Olympic athlete, played for the school.


What did Helen Hunt Jackson detail in her work A Century of Dishonor (1881)?

Hunt described the treatment of Indians at the hands of the U.S. government, and detailed broken treaties and dishonest relations that had characterized the interaction between the two cultures.


What was the Central Pacific Railroad?

The Central Pacific Railroad was one of the two railroads (the other being the Union Pacific) forming the Transcontinental Railroad in the 1860s. The Central Pacific was pushing from west to east, beginning in Sacramento, California.


Which group primarily made up the Central Pacific Railroad's workforce in the drive to complete the Transcontinental Railroad?

At its peak, the Central Pacific Railroad employed some 12,000 Chinese laborers, and they made up over 90% of the total Central Pacific labor force.


The railroad driving West from Council Bluffs, Iowa was the _____ _____ Railroad.

Union Pacific

The Union Pacific's task was much easier than that of the Central Pacific (which went west to east). Rather than having to go over numerous mountain ranges, the Union Pacific's track extended over the vast flat stretches of the Great Plains.


Who made up the workforce for the Union Pacific Railway while the Transcontinental Railroad was being built?

Drawing on the urban cities of the East, the Union Pacific employed newly arrived Irish immigrants in large numbers. In addition, former Union and Confederate soldiers served on the project.


What is the importance of Promontory Point, Utah?

At Promontory Point, Utah on November 6, 1869, the tracks of the Central Pacific Railway were joined to those of the Union Pacific Railway, completing the first Transcontinental Railroad.

The last spike was made of gold, and is now kept at Stanford University.


What was the Black Friday Scandal of 1869?

In 1869, two stockbrokers, Jay Gould and James Fisk, attempted to enrich themselves by cornering the gold market. To make the scheme work, they bribed President Grant's brother-in-law to convince the President to have the Treasury Department stop selling gold.

Discovering the scheme, Grant ordered the Treasury Department to begin selling gold on "Black" Friday, September 29, 1869. The price of gold fell, and numerous businessmen were ruined.


What was the Crédit Mobilier Scandal?

The Crédit Mobilier was a land company associated with the Union Pacific Railroad. Beginning in the late 1860s, the Crédit Mobilier owners provided stock to Congressmen in an effort to protect themselves from Congressional oversight and investigation.

The scandal was uncovered by the New York Sun in 1872 during President Grant's re-election campaign. Although Grant had no knowledge of the affair, it did much to tarnish his reputation.


What was the Whiskey Ring?

The Whiskey Ring was another of the many scandals of President Grant's administration. During the scandal, federal tax collectors were bribed by liquor manufacturers to defraud the federal government of millions in tax revenue. While Grant did not know of the scheme, the discovery of the scandal in 1875 was seen by many as a sign of corruption endemic to Republican administrations.


How did the growth of railroads during the 1870s and 1880s affect the farmers of the Great Plains?

During the 1870s and 1880s, railroads proliferated and were significantly overbuilt. To make a profit, many of these railroads reached discount agreements with frequent customers. To make up the shortfall, the railroads charged high rates to farmers, whose areas were often only serviced by one railroad line.


price fixing

Price fixing is an anti-competitive measure that takes place when competitors agree that they will match prices. During the later half of the 1800s, competing railroads often agreed amongst themselves on the prices that they would charge farmers for shipping produce, leading to increased costs to the farmers.

The Sherman Antitrust Act (1890) was passed to curb price fixing and other business abuses by large corporations.


What is the National Grange of Patrons of Husbandry?

The National Grange of Patrons of Husbandry (the "Grange") is a cooperative association of farmers. Originally founded as an educational organization, the Grange fought against exorbitant prices charged by railways and middlemen in the 1870s and 1880s, and turned into a dominant political force to represent the interests of farmers.


Although it had offices in many states, in which region of the country was the Grange the strongest?

The Grange was primarily concentrated in the states of the Old Northwest, such as Illinois, Indiana, and Iowa.


What were the Granger Cases (1877)?

By 1877, several states had established "Granger Laws" which served to regulate the rates charged by railroads, grain elevator operators, and the like. Six of these laws came before the Supreme Court. The decisions, known as the Granger Cases, upheld the Granger Laws.

The most famous of these cases is Munn v. Illinois (1877). The Court held that Illinois could regulate rates charged by grain elevator operators. The Court reasoned that grain elevators were private utilities serving the public interest.


What was the Interstate Commerce Act?

In 1886, the Supreme Court held in Wabash v. Illinois that only Congress could regulate interstate shipping rates. By enacting the Interstate Commerce Act in 1886, Congress established the first regulatory agency, the Interstate Commerce Commission. Congress charged the Commission with ensuring that railroad rates were "reasonable and just."


How did the Supreme Court's decision in Wabash v. Illinois (1886) limit the effects of the Granger Laws?

In Wabash v. Illinois, the Court held that while states had the right to regulate railroads that operated solely within their borders, only Congress could regulate long-haul shipping rates, i.e. rates charged to ship goods from one state to another.

The Court's decision limited the early rulings in the Granger Cases (1877) to only intrastate railroads, and provoked outcry from small farmers throughout the Midwest.



Specie refers to coined money (typically silver or gold).