Blog

Calculate Price

Total

Sample Questions

Sample questions

Get a 10%  discount on order above $ 10
Use the following coupon code :

MASTERPIECE2020

The West plays a major role in American mythology: Historical Response Essay

 

 

The West plays a major role in American mythology: Historical Response Essay

Name:

Instructor:

Course:

Date:


 

Introduction

Frederick Jason Turner describes the expansion of the US Western Frontier during the 19th Century; a period also referred to as the American Gilded Age[1]. The US government rode on the backs of brave Americans who sought to realize their manifest destiny and as such played a significant role in the Westward expansion of the US territories. These territories were home to the native Indian tribes, though the American government at the time preferred to regard these regions as free land.

Expansion of the US’ Western frontier was further advanced through the construction of railway lines to these remote areas further opening up the region to trade and other economic venture. Mining companies also played an important role in the opening up of the frontier regions as was the case with the California gold rush. This paper seeks to discuss the historical events that changed the Western frontier leading to the opening up of the US western territories, the subjugation of native Indian tribes up until what Turner describes as the closing of the frontier.

Definition of Terms

Frederick Jason Turner is considered as one of the most influential historians with regard to the Westward expansion of the US territories. In 1893, during the celebration of 400 years after Christopher Columbus discovered America, he presented a paper to a group of renowned historians. Titled The Significance of the Frontier in American History, Turner provided his definition for the frontier thesis[2]. The “frontier thesis”, as postulated by Turner described as the US’ westward expansion as the most significant milestone in the country’s history. The frontier thesis in his view American development was realized as a result of the ‘free land’ available in the west, its consistent recession and the progressive of settlements by Americans in the Western frontiers[3]. This was advocated by the then US government’s fundamental philosophy referred to as Manifest Destiny.

The phrase was initially employed by John L. O’Sullivan, an editor and leader within the US Democratic Party in 1845[4]. Manifest Destiny was employed in an attempt to spur a movement among the American people to drive the government’s drive towards expansion into the entire Americas continent. The term defined the right of the American people to possess lands in the West with the sole aim of realizing liberty, as well as federal development of the US government.

The American Gilded Age

This historically represents the American society during the Grant administration and describes the most criticized period of American history[5]. The period is commonly described as the transitional period between the Reconstruction movement and the Progressive era. This was during the final 25 years of the 1800’s. During this time, the US rose to become the most industrialized nations in the world. It had succeeded in creating an expansive navy, surpassed Britain as the superpower and realized a huge international empire[6]. During this time, corruption and mass acquisition were the norms such that cultural depth was minimal. Irresponsibility, political indifferences as well as hypocrisy saw the development of corporations that controlled the operations of the nation’s industries. These corporations gobbled up or led to the collapse of smaller indigenous businesses and factories upon which the US economy had been established[7]. Owners of these vast corporations had the ability to influence the government to buy into their strategic plans such that they benefited greatly from government favors and aid packages. As such, social welfare was grossly neglected and the wealthy amassed vast fortunes by exploiting the country’s natural resources and the working class populations.

It was during this time that the famous Statue of Liberty was erected in the State of New York and the poem by Emma Lazarus entitled The New Colossus described the thirst of the American industrialists to source for cheap labor from foreign immigrants[8]. This wonderful poem presented a heartwarming welcome message to immigrants who sought better living standards in the US from socio-economically and politically oppressive European countries. However, immigrants were soon to learn of the corruption, immorality and disregard for social welfare that defined the Gilded Age of American History. The Gilded Age saw the development of the US economy as described in the frontier thesis where the land claimed from native Indian tribes had been converted into expansive farms which saw the developments of towns which attracted factories and bloomed into industrialized cities[9]. This brought about the closure of the western frontier.

The Role of the Railway Construction and Mining Companies in the Development of the West

Prior to the Gilded Age of American History, the Manifest Destiny doctrine had played a fundamental role in advocating the brave and daring of the American society to venture into the Wild West[10]. This was the US government’s strategy to realize greater and faster economic prosperity, as well as greater federal development.

American settlements began as primitive communities who had to contend continuously with fighting against the Native American Indians from whom they had snatched away the so called ‘free land[11].’ These settlements depended mainly on agriculture and vast ranches. The availability of food and common communal objectives saw the development of towns and later, the development of factories which culminated with the growth of cities. This proceeded to such a point that there was no more land to hive off from the American West.

The growth of these cities led the government to look for means with which to further bolster national trade[12]. Railway companies presented the most innovative means with which economic development and prosperity could be realized through improved transport and communication. The railway opened up cities in the West connecting them with cities in the east which had prospered enormously from international trade. The railway companies brought about further growth of towns along railway lines that quickly grew into cities. The railway lines enhanced the movement of people as well as trade.

Mining companies also led to the development of the American West as numerous mineral deposits were discovered in the West. These brought about the gold rush, the development of oil fields as well as the mining of many other commercially viable minerals[13]. This not only led to the rapid industrialization of the West but also led to the growth of mining towns. These mining companies are however still in protracted court battles with descendants of the Native American Indians whom they grossly took advantage of at the time[14].

Impact on the native populations and other groups

The brave American men and women who sought to venture into the Wild West in pursuit of the “Manifest Destiny” had to adapt to living in harsh environmental conditions. The so called ‘free land’ belonged to hostile Native American Indian tribes that sought to keep their ancestral lands to themselves[15]. Through persistent fighting, the Indian tribes were subjugated by the new settlers and saw the established of American Indian Reserves.

Vast tracts of land allowed for commercial ranching as well as large scale farming of crops such as corn and wheat. Commercial ranching brought about cowboys while large scale farming developed farming communities. The industrialization of these lands brought about the end of the cowboy era, and more so saw large farms developed for real estate enterprises and the establishment of factories[16].

 

Conclusion

The age of American industrialization brought about an end to the agrarian economy that evolved from the onset of the Manifest Destiny, which propelled Frederick Jason Turner to pen the frontier thesis. The economic development of the Western frontiers of the US was tactfully engaged by the federal government at a time when savagery was overpowered through the civilization of generations of frontier settlers. However, as Stone and Kuznick provide, the economic, political and military dominance of the US on the entire world has come as a result of some eerily negative policies[17]. It is important to point out that this also involved the positive endeavors of men and women of the greater American society. Therefore, the events that are discussed in this paper provide that the manner with which the federal government was able to have control over the development of the West has been applied in the international arena. The traits of the Gilded Age are therefore prevailing in the current American policies, both on a national and international perspective. It is, therefore, sensible to wind up by quipping that the American history is best described by the traits projected through the Gilded Age.

 

 

 

End Notes

[1] Turner, Frederick Jackson. The frontier in American history (Massachusetts: Courier Corporation, 2010.)

 

[2] Turner, The frontier in American history, 2.

[3] Turner, The frontier in American history, 3

[4] May, Robert E. “Manifest Destiny.” March 14, 2006, accessed February 11, 2015, http://www.pbs.org/kera/usmexicanwar/prelude/md_manifest_destiny2.html

 

[5] DeSantis, Vincent P. “The Gilded Age in American History.” Hayes Historical Journal 7 (1988): 38-41. http://www.rbhayes.org/hayes/content/files/Hayes_Historical_Journal/gildedageamericanhist.html

 

[6] DeSantis, “The Gilded Age in American History.” http://www.rbhayes.org/hayes/content/files/Hayes_Historical_Journal/gildedageamericanhist.html, (1988).

[7] DeSantis, “The Gilded Age in American History.” http://www.rbhayes.org/hayes/content/files/Hayes_Historical_Journal/gildedageamericanhist.html, (1988).

 

[8] Lazarus, Emma. “The Poems of Emma Lazarus, Volume I: Narrative, Lyric, and Dramatic. Vol 1. Massachusetts: Courier Corporation. http://www.libertystatepark.com/emma.htm

 

[9] Foner, Eric. Give me liberty!: an American history. New York: WW Norton, 2005.

 

[10] Turner, The frontier in American history, 6

[11] Maas, Peter. “The Broken Promise: The Story of How the US Government Stole $40 Billion from Native Americans.” Parade Magazine, September 9, 2001, accessed February 11, 2015, http://www.mindfully.org/Reform/Broken-Blackfeet-Promise.htm

 

[12] Zinn, Howard. The twentieth century: A people’s history. New York: Harper & Row, 1984.

[13] Zinn, The twentieth century: A people’s history, 3.

[14] Younge, Gary. In The US, Class War Still Means Just One Thing: The Rich Attacking The Poor. The Guardian, September 3, 2007, http://www.commondreams.org/views/2007/09/03/us-class-war-still-means-just-one-thing-rich-attacking-poor

[15] Wilber, Del Q. “What Is Owed to Native Americans?” The Washington Post, June 11, 2008, accessed February 11, 2015, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/06/10/AR2008061002739.html

 

[16] Turner, The frontier in American history, 2.

 

[17] Stone, Oliver and Kuznick Peter. The Untold History of the United States.         New York: Simon and Schuster, 2012

 

 

Bibliography

DeSantis, Vincent P. “The Gilded Age in American History.” Hayes Historical Journal 7 (1988): 38-41. Accessed February 11, 2015. http://www.rbhayes.org/hayes/content/files/Hayes_Historical_Journal/gildedageamericanhist.html

Foner, Eric. Give Me Liberty! An American History. New York: WW Norton, 2005.

Francis, David R. “What a New ‘Gilded Age’ May Bring.” CS Monitor, March 6, 2006, accessed February 11, 2015, http://www.csmonitor.com/2006/0306/p16s01-coop.html

Lazarus, Emma. “The Poems of Emma Lazarus, Volume I: Narrative, Lyric, and Dramatic. Vol 1. Massachusetts: Courier Corporation. Accessed February 11, 2015, http://www.libertystatepark.com/emma.htm

Maas, Peter. “The Broken Promise: The Story of How the US Government Stole $40 Billion from Native Americans.” Parade Magazine, September 9, 2001, accessed February 11, 2015, http://www.mindfully.org/Reform/Broken-Blackfeet-Promise.htm

May, Robert E. “Manifest Destiny.” Published March 14, 2006, accessed February 11, 2015, http://www.pbs.org/kera/usmexicanwar/prelude/md_manifest_destiny2.html

Stone, Oliver and Kuznick Peter. The Untold History of the United States.   New York: Simon and Schuster, 2012.

Turner, Frederick Jackson. The Frontier in American History. Massachusetts: Courier Corporation, 2010.

Wilber, Del Q. “What Is Owed to Native Americans?” The Washington Post, June 11, 2008, accessed February 11, 2015, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/06/10/AR2008061002739.html

Younge, Gary. In The US, Class War Still Means Just One Thing: The Rich Attacking The Poor. The Guardian, September 3, 2007, accessed February 11, 2015, http://www.commondreams.org/views/2007/09/03/us-class-war-still-means-just-one-thing-rich-attacking-poor

Zinn, Howard. The Twentieth Century: A People’s History. New York: Harper & Row, 1984.