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The West

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1. R. McNamara in his article “Exploration of the West in the 19th Century” (n. d.) states that up until the beginning of the 19th century, almost no one could say for sure what was located beyond the Mississippi river. Lewis and Clark were the first travelers, who described the landscape of the Western areas. Their reports included information about vast territories of prairies, high mountains, and big rivers. Due to that report, the desire to discover the wealth of the West became the obsession of the American nation.

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According to R. McNamara (n. d.), John Jacob Astor, the richest man in America, decided to establish a settlement on the Western coasts. He had the intention to expand his business all over the Northern continent. However, his plan failed due to the War in 1812. His settlement of Fort Astoria was captured by the British soldiers. Nevertheless, that step paved the way for thousands of American settlers from the East. Even though the business plan of Fort Astoria establishment failed, it helped to find the new ways towards the West, which were later called the Oregon Trail.

2. The article “The American West” (n. d.) states that the symbol of a cowboy in the 19th century became one of the most prominent symbols of the whole American culture. Usuall, a cowboy was depicted as a glamorous hero. However, this stereotype differs from the real situation. In fact, cowboys were living in unsatisfactory conditions and their life consisted of long hours of hard toil.

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The other stereotype describes the Wild West as a violent territory. However, it is not more violent than the modern United States is. According to T. J. DiLorenzo (2010), the West was the place of chaos, but the property right and other civil rights were well protected. There were established special private agencies, which provided the protection of the rights in the Western society. Those agencies were non-governmental organizations established by the settlers themselves. They helped to solve the majority of disputes in a peaceful legal way.

The economy of the West rapidly changed due to the arrival of whites, who forced the Indians to leave the fruitful territories and intensified the development of agriculture in America. T. J. DiLorenzo (2010) claims that in 1848, mining became an important sector of the economy. Thousands of people rushed to the West in search of gold and silver. The settlers opened factories, which promoted the development of heavy industry in America. The miners were the first Americans, who founded labor units. Nowadays, they are one of the most influential unionists in the United Stattes. The development of infrastructure helped to join the Atlantic and Pacific coasts and united the territory of North America.

3. R. McNamara (n. d.) states that before the beginning of the 19th century, the high mountains within the territory of the Northern continent were a natural obstacle for the settlers’ movement towards the Pacific coast. At the end of the 18th century, few people knew that behind those mountains there is a prosperous land with vast natural resources. Only with the development of infrastructure people learned about the Western territory.

According to the article “The American West” (n. d.), the appearance of railway roads and the canals in the West in the 19th century caused a rapid increase in the American economy in general. It also opened vast areas for the settlers from the East. In most cases, they were engaged in the mining industry, farming, and ranching. The development of railroads allowed to transport the produced cattle to the East and South. However, the production of cattle and the usage of large areas for growing wheat caused a shortage in the number of bisons. The increasing number of new settlers also led to a conflict with the local Indian population. The indigenous population was forced to move to the areas where the whites did not want to live.

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