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Double Edge Sword Essay, Research Paper

Double Edge Sword

After the civil war, we had thousands upon thousands of people looking for the “American Dream”, and Horace Greeley, who stated the famous words “Go west young man”, helped to start the great migration westward. There was plenty of cheap land west of the Mississippi, and gold was foud in the West, just waiting for those who could get there. The migration ultimately interfered with the Native Americans, which changed their way of life forever. Many poor souls tried to make it in the west at raising cattle, farming, and mining, but failed. Ther was also those who made it big with new inventions, hard work and lots of luck.

The Native Americans were living on a valuable asset called land, and the government was looking to expand their territoty to the west. However, the U.S. had to do something with the Native Americans, so they strated to create reservation in hope to avoid land wars between the Native Americans and the new settlers. Tribes were congregated on small reservations; each tribes had their own culture and this caused friction among each other. Not to mention, there was already conflicts going on with their government caregivers. Futhermore, there were church-run boarding schools, which took the children away from theirr parents, so they could learnn the White man’s way of life and that only added to their stress. Ultimately, many of the Native Americans died due to battles, disease, and the mistreatment on the reservations. For example, the Sand Creek massacre where 450 peaceful Indains were slaughtered. For those who survived, their lives changed forever. In the name of progress, we took their land and shattered their culture by trying to bring them into American’s way of life.

The farmers, who migrated westward, found themsevles in a strange land it was nothing that they were used to. The land was flat, dry praisie grass, and for the most part treeless. They had to learn how to biuld sod homes, and use buffalo chips for fuel. Planting their crops was also difficult; thhe plow they hhad would snap in the hard dry ground, and the prairie grass roots were imbedded deeply into the soil. They had other problems. like money, most of them were deeply in debt due to the high prices of goods, and their tracts of land were not large enough to be self-sufficient. In addition, Mother Nature was very hard on them with droughts, locus, and grass fires that led to crop failures. Many of them had to work for other ranchers to make ends meet or move back to the city and try to find a job. There come a time when things strated to look up for the farmers. New machines and the railroad were heading their way. A man name James Oliver invented a plow called the “sodbuster” that could plow through the tough soil of the Greaat Plains and break up the stubborn prairie grass roots. Others new inventions that helped the farmer were the planters and threshingg machines, yet this put many farmers deeper in debt, and the small farmers could afford them. The railroad help the farmers by bring them lumber and other goods, which in many cases they could not get otherwise.

When the civil war had ended, there was a shortage of cattle, and there were millions of Texas Longhorns roaming free in the west. Many people saw this as a great opportunity to make big money. Cowboys set out too round-up the cattle. Then they would drive them to the Missouri-Pacific railroad and send the cattle east. On the cattle drives there were some difficulties due to cattle rustlers waiting to attack and having to go around farmlands. Cowtowns started popping up across the west as far as Montana as the railroad expanded. The first cowtown was in Kansas and the man who started it was J. McCory. He bought 250 acres and then he built a stockyard, barn, office building, hotel, and bank. Things were looking up for the cattle industry, but thhey still had cattle that were died or sick by the time they reach the East Coast. To fix the problem the railroad came up with the refrigerated car, so the cattlemen could slaughter the cattle before shipping, and ship the beef to the East Coast without spoilage. The cattle were kept on open range for sometime, until the “barbed wire wars” started. Ffarmers were intudung on the range to make their homesteads, as time went on the cattlemen started associations to keep people off their already overstock lands. Then the sheep came on the scene and started to destroy the grazing land. This started the range wars between the farmers, sheepherders, and cattlemen.

The new about finding gold rang out across the U.S. and people from all walks of life made a mad dash to the west to stake their claims. Mostly men lived in these camps and it was a rough place to live. They had inadequate shelter, food and it was often violent. Many of them died or they tried to make their stake and return home to the east as fast as they could. Hawhers had moved into the camps such as, saloonkeepers, ladies of the night, outlaws, and other indecorous characters, which is way the lynch law justice was away of life for the time being. After awhile, law and order came into play and mining became a corporate businenss, so the independent miner eitherstarted to work for the corporation or they moved on to something else. These small mining camps soon became flourishing towns.

After the gold rush in 1849, people started to demand for the transcontinental railroad connections, and influential people were feeling the presser. The Union Pacific railroad was started during the civil war, and the Federal government gave land grants to the railroads companies to help them along. As the rails move westward the farmers and cattlemen prosper and the transcontinental railroad was join in May 10, 1869, to complete the coast-to-coast connection. Now people and goods could travel faster from east to west and they could travel safer. However, by the 1870’s people had gotten worried about the amount of power and certain practices of the railroad companies. Ther came a time when railroad commissions with regulatory powers started and the U.S. Supreme Court started the Interstate Commerce Commission to govern rules upon the railroads.

Great Progress was made during the nineteenth century. If not for the discovert of gold, it probably would have taken longer to complete the transcontinental railroad. The territories would not have become States as quick as they were, and Native Americans would have been left alone for the time being. If not for the farmers homesteading in the Great Plains, some inventions may have been invented, like the “sodbuster”. The need for cattle in the east made it possible for the refrigerated cars, and the cowtowns. However, if not for the railraods would any of these things be possible? Progress is like a double edge sword, and it will cut both ways. We have to be careful not to be cut to deeply by greed.

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