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After the Civil War, Americans increasingly turned to the western part of what is now the United States. What drew Americans to the west? What role did railroads play in the development of the region? After the Civil War with the destruction and economic deterioration it caused, Americans hoped for economic opportunity, luring immigrants towards the west, especially to the Great Plains and Rocky Mountain region…
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Download file to see previous pages... Although economic prosperity was the main motivation behind the move to the West, Native Americans actually suffered deeply during the process due to the struggle with the settlers. After the Civil War, Native Americans confronted a growing wave of settlers, who represented various social classes, including prospectors, ranchers, and farm families (Lincoln, 1997). One of the main problems at that time was that the newcomers brought with them many new diseases that ravaged the tribes. In addition, settlers damaged the Native American economy in many ways, such as by killing off the buffalo, which was one of the main economic resources of Native Americans. Consequently, Native Americans decided to defend their lands and their ways of life against the oncoming settlers. They were engaged in fierce battles during the 1860s and 1870s (Lincoln, 1997). However, lack of resources and spread of diseases led to sharp decreases of the population and power of the tribes. Hence, new settlers succeeded in stabilizing their existence in Western territories, mainly in Oklahoma, Wyoming, and the Dakotas, challenging the traditional Native American way of life. In this context, it has to be stated that railroads played a major role in the development of the region during that time. Essentially, building of the railroads spurred western settlement, as in 1862, Congress gave permission to the construction of two main railroads to link the Midwest and the West Coast. Those two main railroads are The Union Pacific Railroad, which extended westward from Nebraska; and the Central Pacific Railroad, which went eastward from the Pacific Ocean (Lincoln, 1997). These two railroads met at Promontory Summit, Utah, in 1869, signifying a new era in Western history. Indeed, the expansion of railroads was strongly encouraged by Federal and state governments. This sincere belief in the extreme economic importance of railroads pushed Congress to authorize the building of the transcontinental railroad in 1862, although this authorization let them agree to loan hundreds of millions of dollars to the two corporations to construct it. In addition, Congress agreed also to give the railroad companies millions of acres of Western land, which the railroads sold to repay their loans. In that sense, many historians argue that such major railroad companies, with the federal support they got, were the actual colonizers of the West (Lincoln, 1997). To visualize the role of railroads in encouraging migration to the West, it is important to refer to the fact that railroads provided free trips to the West and offered long-term loans to settlers. Hence, it can be concluded that railroads played significant roles in the process of settlers’ migration to the West after the civil war. American foreign policy prior to World War I led it to acquire overseas territory, build the Panama Canal, and police Latin America. How did these events come about? What justifications did Americans use for these actions? Were these actions justifiable? Prior to World War I, the United States pursued an aggressive policy of expansionism, acquiring overseas territories and extending its political and economic influence around the globe. Historically, the United States ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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