Was the West that Wild?

The Trans-Mississippi romanticized by many (U.S. citizens and foreign immigrants alike) as the last adventurous American frontier, hailed for its wealth and independence, could not be more mistaken. The communities that made up the Old West were often unstable, many of its working patrons succumbing to cheap entertainment, such as liqueur, prostitution, and raucous saloons. Also, many of these ranges were home to some of the most prominent cases of U.

S. crime, often fights erupting on the streets, along with assault and robbery. President Hayes had to send in troops to aid in ebbing the violence that occurred in many cattle and mining camps. In many cases, prosperity was not easy to come by, a fact that eluded many migrants thinking of the “mountains of gold and silver. Often, hardly few, if any, captured wealth quickly; the Gold Rush of 1849 being nothing more than a wave of simmering hopes and few successes. An example of Federal support included the Homestead Act, offering incentive to potential white farmers, by granting 160 acres of public land to any settler who lived on the land and improved it, for approximately five years.

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The temptation of rich soil and valuable estate often tempted more settlers into settling in the upper and central Midwest. “The rapid settlement of the West could not have taken place without the railroad” –Out of Many Third Edition. U.S. railroads were the primary reasons why western areas were able to achieve some success, promoting migration, and exchanging crops and cattle to eastern markets.

So while tales of wealth and individuality stimulated the West, it could not have survived without the Federal Government’s land opportunities, railroads, and military assistance.