"Pioneer" Identity in US History
American pioneers are any of the people in American history who migrated west to join in settling and developing new areas. The term especially refers to those who were going to settle any territory which had previously not been settled or developed by European, African or American society, although the territory was inhabited by or utilized by Native Americans.
The pioneer concept and ethos greatly predate the migration to parts of the United States now called Western, as many places now considered as East were also settled by pioneers from the coast. For example, Daniel Boone, a key figure in American history, settled in Kentucky, when that "Dark and Bloody Ground" was still undeveloped.
One important development in the Western settlement was the Homestead Act, which provided formal legislation for the settlers which regulated the settlement process.
The word "pioneer" originates with the Middle French pionnier (originally, a foot soldier, or soldier involved in digging trenches), from the same root as peon or pawn. In the English language, the term independently evolved a sense of being an innovator or trailblazer. As early as 1664, Englishman John Evelyn used the term with a self-effacing "workman" meaning when he wrote in his treatise on planting, Sylva, or A Discourse of Forest-Trees: "I speak now in relation to the Royal Society, not my self, who am but a Servant of it only and a Pioneer in the Works".
Popular Culture and Folklore
The figure of the pioneer has played a large role in American culture, literature and folklore. The pioneer is not the only iconic figure which figures in the settlement of the West. Much cultural note is given to other figures of a more transient nature, such as cowboys, trappers, prospectors, miners etc. However, the pioneer alone represents those who went into unexplored territory in search of a new life, looking to establish permanent settlement.
Various figures in American folklore and literature typify the pioneer. The Deerslayer was the most successful of an early series, the Leatherstocking Tales, about pioneer life in New York. Little House on the Prairie, a century later, typified a later series of novels describing a pioneer family. Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett are two real-life icons of pioneer history.
In the 19th century, manifest destiny was a widely held belief in the United States that its settlers were destined to expand across North America. There are three basic themes to manifest destiny:
* The special virtues of the American people and their institutions * The mission of the United States to redeem and remake the west in the image of agrarian America * An irresistible destiny to accomplish this essential duty
Historian Frederick Merk says this concept was born out of "a sense of mission to redeem the Old World by high example ... generated by the potentialities of a new earth for building a new heaven".
Historians have emphasized that "manifest destiny" was a contested concept—pre-civil war Democrats endorsed the idea but many prominent Americans (such as Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant, and most Whigs) rejected it. Historian Daniel Walker Howe writes, "American imperialism did not represent an American consensus; it provoked bitter dissent within the national polity ... Whigs saw America's moral mission as one of democratic example rather than one of conquest."
Newspaper editor John O'Sullivan is generally credited with coining the term manifest destiny in 1845 to describe the essence of this mindset, which was a rhetorical tone; however, the unsigned editorial titled "Annexation" in which it first appeared was arguably written by journalist and annexation advocate Jane Cazneau. The term was used by Democrats in the 1840s to justify the war with Mexico and it was also used to divide half of Oregon with the United Kingdom. But manifest destiny always limped along because of its internal limitations and the issue of slavery, says Merk. It never became a national priority. By 1843, former U.S. President John Quincy Adams, originally a major supporter of the concept underlying manifest destiny, had changed his mind and repudiated expansionism because it meant the expansion of slavery in Texas.
From the outset Manifest Destiny—vast in program, in its sense of continentalism—was slight in support. It lacked national, sectional, or party following commensurate with its magnitude. The reason was it did not reflect the national spirit. The thesis that it embodied nationalism, found in much historical writing, is backed by little real supporting evidence.
There was never a set of principles defining manifest destiny, therefore it was always a general idea rather than a specific policy made with a motto. Ill-defined but keenly felt, manifest destiny was an expression of conviction in the morality and value of expansionism that complemented other popular ideas of the era, including American exceptionalism and Romantic nationalism. Andrew Jackson, who spoke of "extending the area of freedom", typified the conflation of America's potential greatness, the nation's budding sense of Romantic self-identity, and its expansion.
Yet Jackson would not be the only president to elaborate on the principles underlying manifest destiny. Owing in part to the lack of a definitive narrative outlining its rationale, proponents offered divergent or seemingly conflicting viewpoints. While many writers focused primarily upon American expansionism, be it into Mexico or across the Pacific, others saw the term as a call to example. Without an agreed upon interpretation, much less an elaborated political philosophy, these conflicting views of America's destiny were never resolved. This variety of possible meanings was summed up by Ernest Lee Tuveson: "A vast complex of ideas, policies, and actions is comprehended under the phrase "Manifest Destiny". They are not, as we should expect, all compatible, nor do they come from any one source."
The Homestead Act of 1862 encouraged 600,000 families to settle the West by giving them land (usually 160 acres) almost free. They had to live on and improve the land for five years. Before the Civil War, Southern leaders opposed the Homestead Acts because they feared it would lead to more free states and free territories. After the mass resignation of Southern senators and representatives at the beginning of the war, Congress was subsequently able to pass the Homestead Act.
(Impact on) Native Americans
Manifest destiny had serious consequences for Native Americans, since continental expansion implicitly meant the occupation and annexation of Native American land, sometimes to expand slavery. This ultimately led to confrontations and wars with several groups of native peoples via Indian removal. The United States continued the European practice of recognizing only limited land rights of indigenous peoples. In a policy formulated largely by Henry Knox, Secretary of War in the Washington Administration, the U.S. government sought to expand into the west through the purchase of Native American land in treaties. Only the Federal Government could purchase Indian lands and this was done through treaties with tribal leaders. Whether a tribe actually had a decision-making structure capable of making a treaty was a controversial issue. The national policy was for the Indians to join American society and become "civilized", which meant no more wars with neighboring tribes or raids on white settlers or travelers, and a shift from hunting to farming and ranching. Advocates of civilization programs believed that the process of settling native tribes would greatly reduce the amount of land needed by the Native Americans, making more land available for homesteading by white Americans. Thomas Jefferson believed that while American Indians were the intellectual equals of whites, they had to live like the whites or inevitably be pushed aside by them. Jefferson's belief, rooted in Enlightenment thinking, that whites and Native Americans would merge to create a single nation did not last his lifetime, and he began to believe that the natives should emigrate across the Mississippi River and maintain a separate society, an idea made possible by the Louisiana Purchase of 1803.
In the age of manifest destiny, this idea, which came to be known as "Indian removal", gained ground. Humanitarian advocates of removal believed that American Indians would be better off moving away from whites. As historian Reginald Horsman argued in his influential study Race and Manifest Destiny, racial rhetoric increased during the era of manifest destiny. Americans increasingly believed that Native American ways of life would "fade away" as the United States expanded. As an example, this idea was reflected in the work of one of America's first great historians, Francis Parkman, whose landmark book The Conspiracy of Pontiac was published in 1851. Parkman wrote that after the British conquest of Canada in 1760, Indians were "destined to melt and vanish before the advancing waves of Anglo-American power, which now rolled westward unchecked and unopposed". Parkman emphasized that the collapse of Indian power in the late 18th century had been swift and was a past event.
Legacy and Consequences
The belief in an American mission to promote and defend democracy throughout the world, as expounded by Thomas Jefferson and his "Empire of Liberty", and continued by Abraham Lincoln, Woodrow Wilson and George W. Bush, continues to have an influence on American political ideology. Under Douglas MacArthur, the Americans "were imbued with a sense of manifest destiny" says historian John Dower.
After the turn of the nineteenth century to the twentieth, the phrase manifest destiny declined in usage, as territorial expansion ceased to be promoted as being a part of America's "destiny". Under President Theodore Roosevelt the role of the United States in the New World was defined, in the 1904 Roosevelt Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine, as being an "international police power" to secure American interests in the Western Hemisphere. Roosevelt's corollary contained an explicit rejection of territorial expansion. In the past, manifest destiny had been seen as necessary to enforce the Monroe Doctrine in the Western Hemisphere, but now expansionism had been replaced by interventionism as a means of upholding the doctrine.
President Woodrow Wilson continued the policy of interventionism in the Americas, and attempted to redefine both manifest destiny and America's "mission" on a broader, worldwide scale. Wilson led the United States into World War I with the argument that "The world must be made safe for democracy." In his 1920 message to Congress after the war, Wilson stated:
... I think we all realize that the day has come when Democracy is being put upon its final test. The Old World is just now suffering from a wanton rejection of the principle of democracy and a substitution of the principle of autocracy as asserted in the name, but without the authority and sanction, of the multitude. This is the time of all others when Democracy should prove its purity and its spiritual power to prevail. It is surely the manifest destiny of the United States to lead in the attempt to make this spirit prevail.
This was the only time a president had used the phrase "manifest destiny" in his annual address. Wilson's version of manifest destiny was a rejection of expansionism and an endorsement (in principle) of self-determination, emphasizing that the United States had a mission to be a world leader for the cause of democracy. This U.S. vision of itself as the leader of the "Free World" would grow stronger in the 20th century after World War II, although rarely would it be described as "manifest destiny", as Wilson had done.
"Manifest destiny" is sometimes used by critics of U.S. foreign policy to characterize interventions in the Middle East and elsewhere. In this usage, "manifest destiny" is interpreted as the underlying cause of what is denounced by some as "American imperialism". A more positive-sounding phrase devised by scholars at the end of the twentieth century is "nation building", and State Department official Karin Von Hippel notes that the U.S. has "been involved in nation-building and promoting democracy since the middle of the nineteenth century and 'Manifest Destiny'".
The American frontier comprises the geography, history, folklore, and cultural expression of life in the forward wave of American expansion that began with English colonial settlements in the early 17th century and ended with the admission of the last mainland territories as states in 1912. A "frontier" is a zone of contact at the edge of a line of settlement. The leading theorist Frederick Jackson Turner went deeper, arguing the frontier was a process that transformed people and turned Europeans into Americans, "The frontier," he asserted, "promoted the formation of a composite nationality for the American people." He theorized it was a process of development: "This perennial rebirth, this fluidity of American life, this expansion westward...furnish the forces dominating American character." Turner's ideas since 1893 have inspired generations of historians (and critics) to explore multiple frontiers. However the popular folk frontier concentrates on the conquest and settlement of Native American lands west of the Mississippi River, in what is now the Midwest, Texas, the Great Plains, the Rocky Mountains, the Southwest, and the West Coast.
In 19th- and early 20th-century media, enormous popular attention was focused on the Western United States in the second half of the 19th century, a period sometimes called the "Old West" or the "Wild West". Such media typically exaggerated the romance, anarchy, and chaotic violence of the period for greater dramatic effect. This eventually inspired the Western genre of film, which spilled over into comic books, and children's toys, games and costumes. This era of massive migration and settlement was particularly encouraged by President Thomas Jefferson following the Louisiana Purchase, giving rise to the expansionist philosophy known as "Manifest destiny".
As defined by Hine and Faragher, "frontier history tells the story of the creation and defense of communities, the use of the land, the development of markets, and the formation of states." They explain, "It is a tale of conquest, but also one of survival, persistence, and the merging of peoples and cultures that gave birth and continuing life to America." Through treaties with foreign nations and native tribes; political compromise; military conquest; establishment of law and order; the building of farms, ranches, and towns; the marking of trails and digging of mines; and the pulling in of great migrations of foreigners, the United States expanded from coast to coast, fulfilling the dreams of Manifest Destiny. Historian Frederick Jackson Turner in his "Frontier Thesis" (1893) theorized that the frontier was a process that transformed Europeans into a new people, the Americans, whose values focused on equality, democracy, and optimism, as well as individualism, self-reliance, and even violence. Thus, Turner's Frontier Thesis proclaimed the westward frontier to be the defining process of American history.
As the American frontier passed into history, the myths of the West in fiction and film took a firm hold in the imagination of Americans and foreigners alike. In David Murdoch's view, America is "exceptional" in choosing its iconic self-image: "No other nation has taken a time and place from its past and produced a construct of the imagination equal to America's creation of the West."
In the colonial era, before 1776, the west was of high priority for settlers and politicians. The American frontier began when Jamestown, Virginia was settled by the English in 1607. In the earliest days of European settlement of the Atlantic coast, until about 1680, the frontier was essentially any part of the interior of the continent beyond the fringe of existing settlements along the Atlantic coast. English, French, Spanish and Dutch patterns of expansion and settlement were quite different. Only a few thousand French migrated to Canada; these habitants settled in villages along the St. Lawrence River, building communities that remained stable for long stretches; they did not simply jump west the way the British did. Although French fur traders ranged widely through the Great Lakes and mid-west region they seldom settled down. French settlement was limited to a few very small villages such as Kaskaskia, Illinois as well as a larger settlement around New Orleans. Likewise, the Dutch set up fur trading posts in the Hudson River valley, followed by large grants of land to rich landowning patroons who brought in tenant farmers who created compact, permanent villages. They created a dense rural settlement in upstate New York, but they did not push westward.
Areas in the north that were in the frontier stage by 1700 generally had poor transportation facilities, so the opportunity for commercial agriculture was low. These areas remained primarily in subsistence agriculture, and as a result by the 1760s these societies were highly egalitarian, as explained by historian Jackson Turner Main:
The typical frontier society therefore was one in which class distinctions were minimized. The wealthy speculator, if one was involved, usually remained at home, so that ordinarily no one of wealth was a resident. The class of landless poor was small. The great majority were landowners, most of whom were also poor because they were starting with little property and had not yet cleared much land nor had they acquired the farm tools and animals which would one day make them prosperous. Few artisans settled on the frontier except for those who practiced a trade to supplement their primary occupation of farming. There might be a storekeeper, a minister, and perhaps a doctor; and there were a number of landless laborers. All the rest were farmers.
In the South, frontier areas that lacked transportation, such as the Appalachian Mountain region, remained based on subsistence farming and resembled the egalitarianism of their northern counterparts, although they had a larger upper-class of slaveowners. North Carolina was representative. However frontier areas of 1700 that had good river connections were increasingly transformed into plantation agriculture. Rich men came in, bought up the good land, and worked it with slaves. The area was no longer "frontier". It had a stratified society comprising a powerful upper-class white landowning gentry, a small middle-class, a fairly large group of landless or tenant white farmers, and a growing slave population at the bottom of the social pyramid. Unlike the North, where small towns and even cities were common, the South was overwhelmingly rural.
From British peasants to American farmers
The seaboard colonial settlements gave priority to land ownership for individual farmers, and as the population grew they pushed westward for fresh farm land. Unlike Britain, where a small number of landlords owned most of the good land, ownership in America was cheap, easy and widespread. Land ownership brought a degree of independence as well as a vote for local and provincial offices. The typical New England settlements were quite compact and small—under a square mile. Conflict with the Native Americans arose out of political issues, namely who would rule. Early frontier areas east of the Appalachian Mountains included the Connecticut River valley, and northern New England (which was a move to the north, not the west).
Wars with French and with Natives
Most of the frontiers experienced Native wars, The "French and Indian Wars" were imperial wars between Britain and France, with the French making up for their small colonial population base by enlisting Indian war parties as allies. The series of large wars spilling over from European wars ended in a complete victory for the British in the worldwide Seven Years' War. In the peace treaty of 1763, France lost practically everything, as the lands west of the Mississippi river, in addition to Florida and New Orleans, went to Spain. Otherwise lands east of the Mississippi River and what is now Canada went to Britain.
Steady migration to frontier lands
Regardless of wars Americans were moving across the Appalachians into western Pennsylvania, what is now West Virginia, and areas of the Ohio Country, Kentucky and Tennessee. In the southern settlements via the Cumberland Gap, their most famous leader was Daniel Boone, Young George Washington promoted settlements in West Virginia on lands awarded to him and his soldiers by the Royal government in payment for their wartime service in Virginia's militia. West of the mountains, settlements were curtailed briefly by a decree by the Royal Proclamation of 1763. However the Treaty of Fort Stanwix (1768) re-opened most of the western lands for frontiersmen to settle.
The first major movement west of the Appalachian mountains originated in Pennsylvania, Virginia, and North Carolina as soon as the Revolutionary War ended in 1781. Pioneers housed themselves in a rough lean-to or at most a one-room log cabin. The main food supply at first came from hunting deer, turkeys, and other abundant game.
In a few years, the pioneer added hogs, sheep, and cattle, and perhaps acquired a horse. Homespun clothing replaced the animal skins. The more restless pioneers grew dissatisfied with over civilized life, and uprooted themselves again to move 50 or hundred miles (80 or 160 km) further west.
The land policy of the new nation was conservative, paying special attention to the needs of the settled East. The goals sought by both parties in the 1790–1820 era were to grow the economy, avoid draining away the skilled workers needed in the East, distribute the land wisely, sell it at prices that were reasonable to settlers yet high enough to pay off the national debt, clear legal titles, and create a diversified Western economy that would be closely interconnected with the settled areas with minimal risk of a breakaway movement. By the 1830s, however, the West was filling up with squatters who had no legal deed, although they may have paid money to previous settlers. The Jacksonian Democrats favored the squatters by promising rapid access to cheap land. By contrast, Henry Clay was alarmed at the "lawless rabble" heading West who were undermining the utopian concept of a law-abiding, stable middle-class republican community. Rich southerners, meanwhile, looked for opportunities to buy high-quality land to set up slave plantations. The Free Soil movement of the 1840s called for low-cost land for free white farmers, a position enacted into law by the new Republican Party in 1862, offering free 160 acre (65 ha) homesteads to all adults, male and female, black and white, native-born or immigrant.
After winning the Revolutionary War (1783), American settlers in large numbers poured into the west. In 1788, American pioneers to the Northwest Territory established Marietta, Ohio as the first permanent American settlement in the Northwest Territory.
In 1775, Daniel Boone blazed a trail for the Transylvania Company from Virginia through the Cumberland Gap into central Kentucky. It was later lengthened to reach the Falls of the Ohio at Louisville. The Wilderness Road was steep and rough, and it could only be traversed on foot or horseback, but it was the best route for thousands of settlers moving into Kentucky. In some areas they had to face Indian attacks. In 1784 alone, Indians killed over 100 travelers on the Wilderness Road. No Indians lived permanently in Kentucky but they sent raiding parties to stop the newcomers. One of those intercepted was Abraham Lincoln's grandfather, who was scalped in 1784 near Louisville.
Acquisition of Indigenous Land
The War of 1812 marked the final confrontation involving major British and Indian forces fighting to stop American expansion. The British war goal included the creation of an independent Indian state (under British auspices) in the Midwest. American frontier militiamen under General Andrew Jackson defeated the Creeks and opened the Southwest, while militia under Governor William Henry Harrison defeated the Indian-British alliance at the Battle of the Thames in Canada in 1813. The death in battle of the Indian leader Tecumseh dissolved the coalition of hostile Indian tribes. Meanwhile, General Andrew Jackson ended the Indian military threat in the Southeast at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend in 1814 in Alabama. In general the frontiersmen battled the Indians with little help from the U.S. Army or the federal government.
To end the War of 1812 American diplomats negotiated the Treaty of Ghent, signed in 1815, with Britain. They rejected the British plan to set up an Indian state in U.S. territory south of the Great Lakes. They explained the American policy toward acquisition of Indian lands:
The United States, while intending never to acquire lands from the Indians otherwise than peaceably, and with their free consent, are fully determined, in that manner, progressively, and in proportion as their growing population may require, to reclaim from the state of nature, and to bring into cultivation every portion of the territory contained within their acknowledged boundaries. In thus providing for the support of millions of civilized beings, they will not violate any dictate of justice or of humanity; for they will not only give to the few thousand savages scattered over that territory an ample equivalent for any right they may surrender, but will always leave them the possession of lands more than they can cultivate, and more than adequate to their subsistence, comfort, and enjoyment, by cultivation. If this be a spirit of aggrandizement, the undersigned are prepared to admit, in that sense, its existence; but they must deny that it affords the slightest proof of an intention not to respect the boundaries between them and European nations, or of a desire to encroach upon the territories of Great Britain. [...] They will not suppose that that Government will avow, as the basis of their policy towards the United States a system of arresting their natural growth within their own territories, for the sake of preserving a perpetual desert for savages.
"American Indian Wars"
Indian wars have occurred throughout the United States though the conflicts are generally separated into two categories; the Indian wars east of the Mississippi River and the Indian wars west of the Mississippi. The U.S. Bureau of the Census (1894) provided an estimate of deaths:
The Indian wars under the government of the United States have been more than 40 in number. They have cost the lives of about 19,000 white men, women and children, including those killed in individual combats, and the lives of about 30,000 Indians. The actual number of killed and wounded Indians must be very much higher than the given... Fifty percent additional would be a safe estimate...
Historian Russell Thornton estimates that from 1800 to 1890, the Indian population declined from 600,000 to as few as 250,000. The depopulation was principally caused by disease as well as warfare. Many tribes in Texas, such as the Karankawan, Akokisa, Bidui and others, were extinguished due to conflicts with settlers. The rapid depopulation of the American Indians after the Civil War alarmed the U.S. Government, and the Doolittle Committee was formed to investigate the causes as well as provide recommendations for preserving the population. The solutions presented by the committee, such as the establishment of the five boards of inspection to prevent Indian abuses, had little effect as large Western migration commenced.
Indian wars east of the Mississippi
The Trail of Tears
The expansion of migration into the Southeastern United States in the 1820s to the 1830s forced the federal government to deal with the "Indian question". The Indians were under federal control but were independent of state governments. State legislatures and state judges had no authority on their lands, and the states demanded control. Politically the new Democratic Party of President Andrew Jackson demanded removal of the Indians out of the southeastern states to new lands in the west, while the Whig Party and the Protestant churches were opposed to removal. The Jacksonian Democracy proved irresistible, as it won the presidential elections of 1828, 1832 and 1836. By 1837 the "Indian Removal policy" began, to implement the act of Congress signed by Andrew Jackson in 1830. Many historians have sharply attacked Jackson. The 1830 law theoretically provided for voluntary removal and had safeguards for the rights of Indians, but in reality the removal was involuntary, brutal and ignored safeguards. Jackson justified his actions by stating that Indians had "neither the intelligence, the industry, the moral habits, nor the desire of improvements".
The forced march of about twenty tribes included the "Five Civilized Tribes" (Creek, Choctaw, Cherokee, Chickasaw, and Seminole). To motivate natives reluctant to move, the federal government also promised rifles, blankets, tobacco, and cash. By 1835 the Cherokee, the last Indian nation in the South, had signed the removal treaty and relocated to Oklahoma. All the tribes were given new land in the "Indian Territory" (which later became Oklahoma). Of the approximate 70,000 Indians removed, about 18,000 died from disease, starvation, and exposure on the route. This exodus has become known as The Trail of Tears (in Cherokee "Nunna dual Tsuny", "The Trail Where they Cried"). The impact of the removals was severe. The transplanted tribes had considerable difficulty adapting to their new surroundings and sometimes clashed with the tribes native to the area.
The only way for an Indian to remain and avoid removal was to accept the federal offer of 640 acres (2.6 km2) or more of land (depending on family size) in exchange for leaving the tribe and becoming a state citizen subject to state law and federal law. However, many natives who took the offer were defrauded by "ravenous speculators" who stole their claims and sold their land to whites. In Mississippi alone, fraudulent claims reached 3,800,000 acres (15,000 km2). Of the five tribes, the Seminole offered the most resistance, hiding out in the Florida swamps and waging a war which cost the U.S. Army 1,500 lives and $20 million.
Indian wars west of the Mississippi
Indian warriors in the West, using their traditional style of limited, battle-oriented warfare, confronted the U.S. Army. The Indians emphasized bravery in combat while the Army put its emphasis not so much on individual combat as on building networks of forts, developing a logistics system, and using the telegraph and railroads to coordinate and concentrate its forces. Plains Indian intertribal warfare bore no resemblance to the "modern" warfare practiced by the Americans along European lines, using its vast advantages in population and resources. Many tribes avoided warfare and others supported the U.S. Army. The tribes hostile to the government continued to pursue their traditional brand of fighting and, therefore, were unable to have any permanent success against the Army.
Indian wars were fought throughout the western regions, with more conflicts in the states bordering Mexico than in the interior states. Arizona ranked highest, with 310 known battles fought within the state's boundaries between Americans and the natives. Arizona ranked highest in war deaths, with 4,340 killed, including soldiers, civilians and Native Americans. That was more than twice as many as occurred in Texas, the second highest ranking state. Most of the deaths in Arizona were caused by the Apache. Michno also says that fifty-one percent of the Indian war battles between 1850 and 1890 took place in Arizona, Texas and New Mexico, as well as thirty-seven percent of the casualties in the county west of the Mississippi River.
One of the deadliest Indian wars fought was the Snake War in 1864–1868, which was conducted by a confederacy of Northern Paiute, Bannock and Shoshone Native Americans, called the "Snake Indians" against the United States Army in the states of Oregon, Nevada, California, and Idaho which ran along the Snake River. The war started when tension arose between the local Indians and the flooding pioneer trains encroaching through their lands, which resulted in competition for food and resources. Indians included in this group attacked and harassed emigrant parties and miners crossing the Snake River Valley, which resulted in further retaliation of the white settlements and the intervention of the United States army. The war resulted in a total of 1,762 men who have been killed, wounded, and captured from both sides. Unlike other Indian Wars, the Snake War was widely forgotten in United States history due to having only limited coverage of the war.
The Colorado War fought by Cheyenne, Arapaho and Sioux, was fought in the territories of Colorado to Nebraska. The conflict was fought in 1863–1865 while the American Civil War was still ongoing. Caused by dissolution between the Natives and the white settlers in the region, the war was infamous for the atrocities done between the two parties. White militias destroyed Native villages and killed Indian women and children such as the bloody Sand Creek massacre, and the Indians also raided ranches, farms and killed white families such as the American Ranch massacre and Raid on Godfrey Ranch.
In the Apache Wars, Colonel Christopher "Kit" Carson forced the Mescalero Apache onto a reservation in 1862. In 1863–1864, Carson used a scorched earth policy in the Navajo Campaign, burning Navajo fields and homes, and capturing or killing their livestock. He was aided by other Indian tribes with long-standing enmity toward the Navajos, chiefly the Utes. Another prominent conflict of this war was Geronimo's fight against settlements in Texas in the 1880s. The Apaches under his command conducted ambushes on US cavalries and forts, such as their attack on Cibecue Creek, while also raiding upon prominent farms and ranches, such as their infamous attack on the Empire Ranch that killed three cowboys. The U.S. finally induced the last hostile Apache band under Geronimo to surrender in 1886.
During the Comanche Campaign, the Red River War was fought in 1874–75 in response to the Comanche's dwindling food supply of buffalo, as well as the refusal of a few bands to be inducted in reservations. Comanches started raiding small settlements in Texas, which led to the Battle of Buffalo Wallow and Second Battle of Adobe Walls fought by buffalo hunters, and the Battle of Lost Valley against the Texas Rangers. The war finally ended with a final confrontation between the Comanches and the U.S. Cavalry in Palo Duro Canyon. The last Comanche war chief, Quanah Parker, surrendered in June 1875, which would finally end the wars fought by Texans and Indians.
Red Cloud's War was led by the Lakota chief Red Cloud against the military who were erecting forts along the Bozeman trail. It was the most successful campaign against the U.S. during the Indian Wars. By the Treaty of Fort Laramie (1868), the U.S. granted a large reservation to the Lakota, without military presence; it included the entire Black Hills. Captain Jack was a chief of the Native American Modoc tribe of California and Oregon, and was their leader during the Modoc War. With 53 Modoc warriors, Captain Jack held off 1,000 men of the U.S. Army for 7 months. Captain Jack killed Edward Canby.
In June 1877, in the Nez Perce War the Nez Perce under Chief Joseph, unwilling to give up their traditional lands and move to a reservation, undertook a 1,200-mile (2,000 km) fighting retreat from Oregon to near the Canada–US border in Montana. Numbering only 200 warriors, the Nez Perce "battled some 2,000 American regulars and volunteers of different military units, together with their Indian auxiliaries of many tribes, in a total of eighteen engagements, including four major battles and at least four fiercely contested skirmishes." The Nez Perce were finally surrounded at the Battle of Bear Paw and surrendered. The Great Sioux War of 1876 was conducted by the Lakota under Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse. The conflict began after repeated violations of the Treaty of Fort Laramie (1868) once gold was discovered in the hills. One of its famous battles was the Battle of the Little Bighorn, in which combined Sioux and Cheyenne forces defeated the 7th Cavalry, led by General George Armstrong Custer. The Ute War, fought by the Ute people against settlers in Utah and Colorado, led to two battles; the Meeker massacre which killed 11 Indian agents, and the Pinhook massacre which killed 13 armed ranchers and cowboys. The Ute conflicts finally ended after the events of the Bluff War.
The end of the Indian wars came at the Wounded Knee massacre on December 29, 1890 where the 7th Cavalry attempted to disarm a Sioux man and precipitated an engagement in which about 150 Sioux men, women, and children were killed. Only thirteen days before, Sitting Bull had been killed with his son Crow Foot in a gun battle with a group of Indian police that had been sent by the American government to arrest him.
As the frontier moved westward, the establishment of U.S. military forts moved with it, representing and maintaining federal sovereignty over new territories. The military garrisons usually lacked defensible walls but were seldom attacked. They served as bases for troops at or near strategic areas, particularly for counteracting the Indian presence. For example, Fort Bowie protected Apache Pass in southern Arizona along the mail route between Tucson and El Paso and was used to launch attacks against Cochise and Geronimo. Fort Laramie and Fort Kearny helped protect immigrants crossing the Great Plains and a series of posts in California protected miners. Forts were constructed to launch attacks against the Sioux. As Indian reservations sprang up, the military set up forts to protect them. Forts also guarded the Union Pacific and other rail lines. Other important forts were Fort Sill, Oklahoma, Fort Smith, Arkansas, Fort Snelling, Minnesota, Fort Union, New Mexico, Fort Worth, Texas, and Fort Walla Walla in Washington. Fort Omaha, Nebraska was home to the Department of the Platte, and was responsible for outfitting most Western posts for more than 20 years after its founding in the late 1870s. Fort Huachuca in Arizona was also originally a frontier post and is still in use by the United States Army.
Settlers on their way overland to Oregon and California became targets of Indian threats. Robert L. Munkres read 66 diaries of parties traveling the Oregon Trail between 1834 and 1860 to estimate the actual dangers they faced from Indian attacks in Nebraska and Wyoming. The vast majority of diarists reported no armed attacks at all. However many did report harassment by Indians who begged or demanded tolls, and stole horses and cattle. Madsen reports that the Shoshoni and Bannock tribes north and west of Utah were more aggressive toward wagon trains. The federal government attempted to reduce tensions and create new tribal boundaries in the Great Plains with two new treaties in the early 1850, The Treaty of Fort Laramie established tribal zones for the Sioux, Cheyennes, Arapahos, Crows, and others, and allowed for the building of roads and posts across the tribal lands. A second treaty secured safe passage along the Santa Fe Trail for wagon trains. In return, the tribes would receive, for ten years, annual compensation for damages caused by migrants. The Kansas and Nebraska territories also became contentious areas as the federal government sought those lands for the future transcontinental railroad. In the Far West settlers began to occupy land in Oregon and California before the federal government secured title from the native tribes, causing considerable friction. In Utah, the Mormons also moved in before federal ownership was obtained.
A new policy of establishing reservations came gradually into shape after the boundaries of the "Indian Territory" began to be ignored. In providing for Indian reservations, Congress and the Office of Indian Affairs hoped to de-tribalize Native Americans and prepare them for integration with the rest of American society, the "ultimate incorporation into the great body of our citizen population". This allowed for the development of dozens of riverfront towns along the Missouri River in the new Nebraska Territory, which was carved from the remainder of the Louisiana Purchase after the Kansas–Nebraska Act. Influential pioneer towns included Omaha, Nebraska City and St. Joseph.
American attitudes towards Indians during this period ranged from malevolence ("the only good Indian is a dead Indian") to misdirected humanitarianism (Indians live in "inferior" societies and by assimilation into white society they can be redeemed) to somewhat realistic (Native Americans and settlers could co-exist in separate but equal societies, dividing up the remaining western land). Dealing with nomadic tribes complicated the reservation strategy and decentralized tribal power made treaty making difficult among the Plains Indians. Conflicts erupted in the 1850s, resulting in various Indian wars. In these times of conflict, Indians become more stringent about white men entering their territory. Such as in the case of Oliver Loving, they would sometimes attack cowboys and their cattle if ever caught crossing in the borders of their land. They would also prey upon livestock if food was scarce during hard times. However, relationship between cowboys and Native Americans were more mutual than they are portrayed, and the former would occasionally pay a fine of 10 cents per cow for the latter to allow them to travel through their land. Indians also preyed upon stagecoaches traveling in the frontier for its horses and valuables.
After the Civil War, as the volunteer armies disbanded, the regular army cavalry regiments increased in number from six to ten, among them Custer's U.S. 7th Cavalry Regiment of Little Bighorn fame, and the African-American U.S. 9th Cavalry Regiment and U.S. 10th Cavalry Regiment. The black units, along with others (both cavalry and infantry), collectively became known as the Buffalo Soldiers. According to Robert M. Utley:
The frontier army was a conventional military force trying to control, by conventional military methods, a people that did not behave like conventional enemies and, indeed, quite often were not enemies at all. This is the most difficult of all military assignments, whether in Africa, Asia, or the American West.
American Frontier in Popular Culture
The exploration, settlement, exploitation, and conflicts of the "American Old West" form a unique tapestry of events, which has been celebrated by Americans and foreigners alike—in art, music, dance, novels, magazines, short stories, poetry, theater, video games, movies, radio, television, song, and oral tradition—which continues in the modern era. Levy argues that the physical and mythological West inspired composers Aaron Copland, Roy Harris, Virgil Thomson, Charles Wakefield Cadman, and Arthur Farwell.
Religious themes have inspired many environmentalists as they contemplate the pristine West before the frontiersmen violated its spirituality. Actually, as historian William Cronon has demonstrated, the concept of "wilderness" was highly negative and the antithesis of religiosity before the romantic movement of the 19th century.
The Frontier Thesis of historian Frederick Jackson Turner, proclaimed in 1893, established the main lines of historiography which fashioned scholarship for three or four generations and appeared in the textbooks used by practically all American students.
Popularizing Western lore
The mythologizing of the West began with minstrel shows and popular music in the 1840s. During the same period, P. T. Barnum presented Indian chiefs, dances, and other Wild West exhibits in his museums. However, large scale awareness really took off when the dime novel appeared in 1859, the first being Malaeska, the Indian Wife of the White Hunter. By simplifying reality and grossly exaggerating the truth, the novels captured the public's attention with sensational tales of violence and heroism, and fixed in the public's mind stereotypical images of heroes and villains—courageous cowboys and savage Indians, virtuous lawmen and ruthless outlaws, brave settlers and predatory cattlemen. Millions of copies and thousands of titles were sold. The novels relied on a series of predictable literary formulas appealing to mass tastes and were often written in as little as a few days. The most successful of all dime novels was Edward S. Ellis' Seth Jones (1860). Ned Buntline's stories glamorized Buffalo Bill Cody and Edward L. Wheeler created "Deadwood Dick", "Hurricane Nell", and "Calamity Jane".
Buffalo Bill Cody was the most effective popularizer of the Old West in the U.S. and Europe. He presented the first "Wild West" show in 1883, featuring a recreation of famous battles (especially Custer's Last Stand), expert marksmanship, and dramatic demonstrations of horsemanship by cowboys and Indians, as well as sure-shooting Annie Oakley.
Elite Eastern writers and artists of the late 19th century promoted and celebrated western lore. Theodore Roosevelt, wearing his hats as historian, explorer, hunter, rancher and naturalist, was especially productive. Their work appeared in upscale national magazines such as Harper's Weekly featured illustrations by artists Frederic Remington, Charles M. Russell, and others. Readers bought action-filled stories by writers like Owen Wister, conveying vivid images of the Old West. Remington lamented the passing of an era he helped to chronicle when he wrote:
I knew the wild riders and the vacant land were about to vanish forever...I saw the living, breathing end of three American centuries of smoke and dust and sweat.
20th century imagery
In the 20th century, both tourists to the West and avid readers enjoyed the visual imagery of the frontier. The Western movies provided the most famous examples, as in the numerous films of John Ford. He was especially enamored of Monument Valley. Critic Keith Phipps says, "its five square miles [13 square kilometers] have defined what decades of moviegoers think of when they imagine the American West." The heroic stories coming out of the building of the transcontinental railroad in the mid-1860s enlivened many dime novels, and illustrated many newspapers and magazines with the juxtaposition of traditional environment with the iron horse of modernity.
The cowboy has for over a century been an iconic American image both in the country and abroad; recognized worldwide and revered by Americans. The most famous popularizers of the image include part-time cowboy and "Rough Rider" President Theodore Roosevelt (1858–1919), who made "cowboy" internationally synonymous with the brash aggressive American, and Indian Territory-born trick roper Will Rogers (1879–1935), the leading humorist of the 1920s.
Roosevelt conceptualized the herder (cowboy) as a stage of civilization distinct from the sedentary farmer—a theme well expressed in the 1944 Hollywood hit Oklahoma! that highlights the enduring conflict between cowboys and farmers. Roosevelt argued that the manhood typified by the cowboy—and outdoor activity and sports generally—was essential if American men were to avoid the softness and rot produced by an easy life in the city.
Will Rogers, the son of a Cherokee judge in Oklahoma, started with rope tricks and fancy riding, but by 1919 discovered his audiences were even more enchanted with his wit in his representation of the wisdom of the common man.
Others who contributed to enhancing the romantic image of the American cowboy include Charles Siringo (1855–1928) and Andy Adams (1859–1935). Cowboy, Pinkerton detective, and western author, Siringo was the first authentic cowboy autobiographer. Adams spent the 1880s in the cattle industry in Texas and 1890s mining in the Rockies. When an 1898 play's portrayal of Texans outraged Adams, he started writing plays, short stories, and novels drawn from his own experiences. His The Log of a Cowboy (1903) became a classic novel about the cattle business, especially the cattle drive. It described a fictional drive of the Circle Dot herd from Texas to Montana in 1882, and became a leading source on cowboy life; historians retraced its path in the 1960s, confirming its basic accuracy. His writings are acclaimed and criticized for realistic fidelity to detail on the one hand and thin literary qualities on the other. Many regard Red River (1948), directed by Howard Hawks, and starring John Wayne and Montgomery Clift, as an authentic cattle drive depiction.
The unique skills of the cowboys are highlighted in the rodeo. It began in organized fashion in the West in the 1880s, when several Western cities followed up on touring Wild West shows and organized celebrations that included rodeo activities. The establishment of major cowboy competitions in the East in the 1920s led to the growth of rodeo sports. Trail cowboys who were also known as gunfighters like John Wesley Hardin, Luke Short and others, were known for their prowess, speed and skill with their pistols and other firearms. Their violent escapades and reputations morphed over time into the stereotypical image of violence endured by the "cowboy hero".
Black Elk Speaks -- Being the Life Story of a Holy Man of The Oglala Sioux -- Nicholas Black Elk, as told through John G. Neihardt (Flaming Rainbow) -- Black Elk Speaks, the story of the Oglala Lakota visionary and healer Nicholas Black Elk (1863–1950) and his people during momentous twilight years of the nineteenth century, offers readers much more than a precious glimpse of a vanished time. Black Elk’s searing visions of the unity of humanity and Earth, conveyed by John G. Neihardt, have made this book a classic that crosses multiple genres. Whether appreciated as the poignant tale of a Lakota life, as a history of a Native nation, or as an enduring spiritual testament, Black Elk Speaks is unforgettable.(from the book jacket)