An essay about migrating westward during the 1800's.
| The mass migration to the western part of the United States during the 1800s was a prime example of a nasty little repeat in history, a repeat that deserves the title of a full on glitch, since it is a duplicate of the colonization of America which occurred during the 1500s and 1600s. (And, at some points, the post-Revolutionary Jackson period is repeated) We see the same type of mass migration of settlers, which in this timeframe are called pioneers, into an area that is foreign to them in order to have a new life or get rich quick; some were in search of gold and other profit making natural resources, while others were in a rush to avoid religious persecution, and some wanted to start farms from scratch and live a new life, three themes that had been popular in the early American Colonization period. And, of course, just like in the beginning of early American colonization, the land which outsiders were trying to inhabit was filled to the brim with several Indian tribes. These groups once again are labeled as a bunch of 'barbarians' or 'savages' who share one brain cell, and due to that the invaders try to change their lifestyle to fit into 'white standards'. Others went through the repeat of Jackson's infamous Trail of Tears- many had been massacred and scalped, and the ones who survived were pushed off their territory onto a new one which was just a measly sliver of American land.... The Indian Question, or the decision of what to do with the native inhabitants of newly invaded land, was what caused the demolition and extermination of Indian tribes along with the relocation of the ones who had survived. These issues, of course, made natives miss the time when territories within the western areas of the United States were left uninhabited, left 'unpurified', by the civilized individuals. During this glorious time, western soils were still being dirtied by the feet of the 'savage' ones and their 'unworthy' ways. On this virgin land, Indians who had not yet had to put up with Manifest Destiny or the Indian Question were secluded from the white ideals. They could live a peaceful and natural life that was baron of modern difficulties.
Nothing was under the pressure of being changed into a more American perspective, nothing was being taken without warning, customs could be taught and songs could be sung in the name of the gods and not God. Land could be shared among brethren and could go without a price attached. Women and men could be equal in rank, the jobs of both staying just as equal to each other, two factors which killed the need for social classes and diminished the creation of sex related discrimination issues which plagued the modern world. Men could grow their hair and did not need to dress in trousers, bowler hats, or overcoats. Children were not forced to read from a bible or speak English. As a whole, tribes could be tribes and everyone was content. But, this era of greatness sadly had to come to an end. During the eighteen hundreds, Indians began endure a repeated harassment which had been practiced during the early days of North American colonization from various types of outsiders as they moved in for various social and economic reasons, like the Mormons who moved in for religious freedom or the Americans and Chinese immigrants who moved into California for the gold rush. Also, we cannot leave out the many others who wanted to start a new life and use their land which had been handed out to them by the government through the Homestead Act. This harassment undoubtedly was designed to water down native culture and purify their civilization so that insiders matched the outsiders who refused to adapt and accept other cultural preferences. The invaders, many bringing with them European influence in their culture, tended to practice the oldest tactic in the book, which had been passed down from the sleazy explorer of the 1600s to bustling pioneer of the 1800s. It was this obnoxious, pushy, dominating, and 'holier than thou' attitude which held a common thought amongst many that the white man was the Supreme Being. And, naturally, accompanying this egotistic mindset was the idea that all who were different from this magnificent giant of conquest needed to change over to his ways or face serious consequences in the long run. These consequences matched up to the ones of the early settlers, meaning that if anyone stood in expansion's way, the pests would be destroyed completely. Others, like the Nez Perc would be forced to secede their land and were relocated to small, inadequate reservations, most notably in Oklahoma and other areas which were rich with deadly diseases.
The worst thought about this subject was that apparently God had given these invaders the full right to ruin the lives of others so that their lives could get better- oh, how charming! How heartwarming! How lemon scented! It was a disgusting showcase filled all of the way to the top with Social Darwinism and Manifest Destiny at its best, ladies and gentlemen. Many had to succumb to this thought process in order to at least attempt to survive. Western natives soon began to learn English, attended Christian schools, cut their hair, etc, just like in the time frame of colonization before the Revolutionary war. They could no longer practice Indian customs or speak native languages. No one could have tribal names, either. The hunter-gatherer system became just a boring farming system, causing many communities to switch over to the white agrarian homestead. Women and men fell into the more 'civilized' statuses; men were above women, were the breadwinners, and trumped their wives in every situation except for homemaking and child bearing. Social inequality became the new forced norm within the society which now could not recognize itself as the Indian society. Everyone, in the eyes the 'insensitive' and 'cutthroat' foes, had to be Billy Madison and Marry Hopkins instead of Wild Eagle and Black Cat. Generally, tribes now no longer could be tribes. It was now the era of brutal identity stripping within the west, and a lot of natives thought that a cruel Armageddon had finally come to the mortal world, causing them to lose all hope. But, some Indian tribes, just like in the early colonization storyline, refused to let their people become trampled upon by the invader's hooves and stabbed by their sharp horns. These brave, strong, optimistic, blood thirsty and independent individuals believed that they had to fight the fire and not bite the bullet in order to survive. Many were letting the preservation of honored customs and traditions become their fuel for the fight and food for survival. The problem with this constantly used ideology is that rebellion always causes more harm than good within American history. As the Indians began to fight back harder and harder, and their resistance became more constant, the invaders who were enforcing the Western Blitzkrieg always managed to pulverize attackers with military actions, some rather planned out and strategic at times. Americans cut off sources of food and other important supplies, persistently pushed back rebels with modern artillery which the natives lacked knowledge and experience of, and quite frequently our textbooks show us times when soldiers burned down villages and massacred villagers. Troops cornered their enemy to force out a weak cry of exasperated and half dead surrender. Harshness was not held back, friendly slaps on the wrist were nonexistent, and all out war was taken with great pleasure at some points. Some rather enjoyed watching the extermination of the enemy because they knew that when all of those 'savages' were gone, expansion would be able to move on. The war machine could spread like a disease, and the soldiers knew it could kill like a disease.
But, this was not the only group which fought the natives. A lot of times, before pioneers started to keep their wagons parked in a circle at night to help prevent Indians from attacking, migrates within a wagon train would face night raids filled with rebels. Many would have to fight them off using civilian weaponry, such as your handy-dandy shot gun and rifle. Sometimes the attackers would be killed off, but other times.... Rebels came back to camp with a bunch of white man's scalps tied upon their belts.
It seemed as though the United States Calvary and Infantry, along with the civilians who had to fight the Indians in order to survive and did in fact survive, had been led by Heinrich Himmler, had been armored with several layers of metal like a Panzer but was designed to be quick like a Japanese Zero, and had the same frightening, whining cough of a Nebelwerfer. As a unit, civilians and the United States military were the Wunderwaffen of the Western Blitz, a weapon that was undoubtedly admirable on many unbiased levels, a war machine which could plow through the toughest and roughest of the Indian Ristance. This factor of military and civilian superiority is questioned and shot down by the ones who are taught bias thinking. But, one can shoot back with the information that most of the tribes who tried to rebel ended up surrendering to their enemy, a statement which blows biased information out of the water and out of this universe. Once again, I shall stress the fact that this was a repeat of the colonization of the original colonies, since this sort of superiority was present within the luck and tactics of the explorers. It is quite evident that they had a gruesome success in the department of wiping out mass amounts of rebelling Indians who were fighting change. But, this superiority, sadly, did not affect the Western Blitz which I speak of so heavily the same way it did in the modern Blitz. The acquisition of the 'wild' territories was stretched out between several years instead of one week. The timeframe of this 'get in and stay in' mission lasted from the 1840's to the 1870s. Honestly, there is not just one reason for why this expansion postponed until the 1840's. Throughout the beginning of the early years of the United States, there were several things that caused the delay. But, there are a few barriers which hindered citizens from moving into the western territories which stand out to be the three most important factors and each one of them are vastly different from one another. As the years went by, the barriers came from different situations within different years.
First, during the time before the Revolutionary War, the British passed the Proclamation of 1763. This act prohibited Americans from settling into the land which Britain acquired from France after the Seven Years' War, and the border line which separated the colonists from the west was the Appalachian Mountains. Second, the lack of modern technology before and, of course, a little bit after the Revolutionary war had also helped keep people grounded. Before invention of the steam engine, Erie Canal, train system, etc, Americans had no way of easy and safe transportation across the country. Mainly, if someone wanted to go somewhere, they had to get up and walk the whole way or take a rickety wagon which was pulled by oxen or horses that could easily croak while on the job, since there was no other travel option. Along with this, people on the move had to endure a trip on the most dangerous pathways one could imagine. Trails which had been carved into the side of a MOUNTAIN spelt out 'prepare to plummet to your death' right in front of your face, and trails in the middle of the desert just screamed 'you will dehydrate and die out here'. If you quickly assumed that this all caused people to want to stay home and stay unhappy with their surroundings, you were right. For the longest time, fear of exploration due to the umpteen hazards of travel and the desire to avoid long or strenuous migration kept people grounded. Their horizons were at first never broadened and people stayed to themselves, keeping the outside world out of sight and out of mind. Third, areas in the west previously were occupied by other nations. Mexico, Spain and Britain were countries who were not particularly fans of dealing with America's lust for land or their consistent childish temper tantrums, and refused to put up with it. None of them wanted to give up their land as easily as Americans hoped. This prompted the United States to fight for most of the land that they wanted to acquire. With Britain and Mexico there had been months, or a few years, of combat in wars that could have clearly been avoided before the land was ripped away from the enemy through forced secession. On the other hand, the Spanish had sold Florida in 1810 though the Adams-Onis treaty to make the nagging America happy, and then later experienced the pushiness of land lust outside the west in 1854 while dealing with the Ostend Manifesto. This contract threatened the Spaniards that if they did not cooperate and hand over Cuba, the United States would start an all out war....... Okay, it is now way too obvious that I have pointed out numerous times that the United States can be a rather obnoxious character in this little horror story. Even with that, pushiness is an important factor to mention while writing an essay which states continuity and change over time.
In the thick of all this, as the land was occupied by the Americans and immigrants who moved in, there were slight changes to how everything looked. Instead of tribal villages filled with tepees, there were now makeshift mud houses present with windows and doors made by pioneers. Buffalo which had previously had roamed the plains were killed off by overhunting and were replaced by cattle. Mountains were being blown to bits by workers, who were usually from china and Ireland, to create more space for railroad tracks. Telegraph poles were being set up for quick messaging. Towns started to be built, factories were being set up, the works. Profit began to start up as people found gold and started new businesses in the west. Individuals could be left alone to do what they wanted. Well, in the case of the Mormoms, for a little while, until polygamy- that's a something we should save for another rainy day. Anyway, the population was able to spread out and not be as cramped. More natural resources were unlocked and ready to use in the factories. People could access so many different things and places now, and so many different businesses could be made....Everything was becoming the holy land of the new and the hell of the natives. Expansion was truly a necessary evil, to tell the truth, because America would have never been able to become the fifty states without it. Our whole history, our whole country, would be smaller in size and lacking its pa-zaz. If we accept the things that went sour, and we think of all of the great things that came out of the expansion, all of this can be understood much more than it already is.