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The American West

The American West

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The American West

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  1. The American West

  2. Westward Expansion • Tejas • U.S.-Mexico War • Gold Rush • Conclusions • Reasons • Plains Indians • Trails • Mormons

  3. Why go West? • Population growth • Land • Inheritance • Slavery • “Democracy”

  4. Manifest Destiny • Divine sanction • “Superiority” • Race • Christianity • Civilization • Indians & Mexicans • John O’Sullivan, @ 1845

  5. Explorers, Traders, Mountain Men • Lewis & Clark, 1804 • Zebulon Pike, 1806-15 • Stephen Long • George Bent • Hudson’s Bay Company • Santa Fe Trail

  6. Plains Indians

  7. Plains Indians, 1820s-1850s • Pawnee, Omaha • Western Sioux (Lakota) • Comanches  • Horse • Expansion • Disease • Treaties

  8. The Borderlands

  9. The Mexican Borderlands • 1821 Independence • All citizens • Weak economy • Native peoples, criollos, mestizos • Colonization Laws

  10. Tejas y Coahuila • “Tejanos” • Liberal immigration • No property taxes • Stephen Austin • Empresario & citizen • American immigrants • Brought slaves illegally • Violated Constitution

  11. Growing tensions • 1830 closed border • Penalties for slave holders • Americans immigrated illegally • Wanted more autonomy • Austin advised cooperation • 1833-5 Santa Anna • Centralize control

  12. Independent Republic of Texas • Slaveholders, poor whites, adventure seekers, criminals illegally entered Tejas • 1835 Texas constitution & STATEHOOD INSIDE MEXICO • Santa Ana refused, and sent military • Rhetoric of American Revolution • “Freedom and Liberty”

  13. The Standard Narrative • March 2, 1836 declared independence • March 6, 187 Americans & Tejanos defeated at Alamo (San Antonio) by 7,000 military • April 1836 Sam Houston captured Santa Ana at San Jacinto • Santa Ana signed treaty

  14. The Alamo Myth • Davy Crocket, Jim Bowie, William Travis • “Last stand” and “sacrifice” • A few good men vs a “well trained military machine” • War for independence & liberty • “Birth” of Texas

  15. Myth-Busting • Internal dispute over states’ rights • Multi-ethnic coalitions and divisions • Invaded Mexico and caused an insurrection • Defending rights of white slave holders • “Army” of Indians & campesinos • Race war & religious fear

  16. Continued • Colonel Travis ignored orders of Houston, the Texas general • 12 tribes agreed to neutrality • Juan Seguin • Roughly 7,000 Texans fled into Louisiana afterwards • The men who died • 13 native born Texans, 11 were Mexican • 41 born in Europe, 2 Jews, 2 blacks • 133 U.S. born • Convicts, broken marriages, debt

  17. History and Mythology • Simplifies the past • Socialize & brainwash • Patriotism, not “truth” • Blind pride and fear • Silences Mexican views • Serves contemporary needs

  18. Mythology

  19. Purposes and function • “Individualism” • Heroes and villains • Sacrifice/martyrdom • Pride and politics • Americans as victims, only defending themselves

  20. Alamo Myth as Commodity • If it is “Alamo” it must be good • Buying the myth and image • Consumption and identity • Nationalisms

  21. Legacy and Impact • Mexican Congress rejected Treaty • Refused recognition of Texas • Santa Ana re-invaded • Americans discriminated against Tejanos, took land, erased them from history • Disputed southern border • Slavery expanded into Texas • Texans invaded New Mexico several times • Border emerged in violence and racism

  22. The Politics of Conquest • Election of 1840 • William Harrison (Whig) • Died in office • V.P. John Tyler (to 1844) • Expansionist • Whigs kicked him out

  23. President James K. Polk • Elected 1844 • Annexed Texas, 1845 • Wanted California • Annexed Oregon • Access to China • Cuba, Canada, Alaska

  24. Border Dispute • 1836 Treaty rejected by Mexico • Rio Nueces or the Rio Grande? • Mexico refused $ • Polk decided on war due to debt, land, refusal of $

  25. Provoking a War • Zachary Taylor to Rio Grande • Blocked the international port at river • Violated disputed area • Mexican troops defended themselves • U.S. troops died • “U.S. attacked on U.S. soil” • Secret War in California

  26. U.S.-Mexican War, 1846-8 • Stephen Kearny-NM • Winfield Scott into Mexico City • Annex Mexico? • “Journalism” • U.S. Marines & Navy

  27. Colonel Hitchcock, com. 3rd Inf. • “The United States are the aggressors…. We have not one particle of right to be here....It looks as if the government sent a small force on purpose to bring on a war, so as to have a pretext for taking California and as much of this country as it chooses....My heart is not in this business." 

  28. Abraham Lincoln • "...the president unnecessarily and unconstitutionally commenced a war with Mexico....The marching an army into the midst of a peaceful Mexican settlement, frightening the inhabitants away, leaving their growing crops and other property to destruction, to you this may appear a perfectly amiable, peaceful, un- provoking procedure; but it does not appear so to us." 

  29. General Ulysses S. Grant • “I do not think there ever was a more wicked war than that waged by the United States in Mexico. I thought so at the time, when I was a youngster, only I had not the moral courage enough to resign.” • -Memoirs

  30. February 11, 1847 The Congressional Globe "We must march from ocean to ocean....We must march from Texas straight to the Pacific ocean....It is the destiny of the white race, it is the destiny of the Anglo-Saxon Race."  • American Review [writes of Mexicans]: "yielding to a superior population, insensibly oozing into her territories, changing her customs, and out-living, exterminating her weaker blood." 

  31. The New York Herald • "The universal Yankee Nation can regenerate . . . the people of Mexico in a few years; and we believe it is a part of our destiny to civilize that beautiful country." 

  32. Significance of War • 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo • Rio Grande = Border • 500,000 sq. miles = CA, NM, NV, AZ, CO • 13,000 U.S. & 20,000 Mexicans died • Cost $100 million for U.S. • Mexicans can choose U.S. citizenship • Allowed expansion of slavery • Poisoned relations with Mexico

  33. Mormons • Joseph Smith, NY 1820s • Communal work • Patriarchy • Persecution • Utah, 1846 • Brigham Young

  34. Oregon Trail, 1842-54 • Families & Missionaries • Whitman Family was most well known • Walked 6 months, tried converting Cayuse Indians

  35. Oregon Territory • U.S.-Britain jointly controlled territory • Oregon Trail • U.S. Pop. grew • Polk pressured U.K. • Bought territory in 1840s

  36. California and the Gold Rush • Sutter’s Mill • Gold, 1848/9 • Massive Migration and growth of the region

  37. “The World Rushed In” • Native People • 300,000 – 30,000 • 1850 law enslaved Indians for labor • No free blacks • Californios • Anti-Mexican laws

  38. Gadsden Purchase, 1853/4

  39. Conclusions • Manifest Destiny as policy • “Democracy” dependent on expansion • Made conquest seem acceptable and natural • Legacy of hostility with Mexico & Dispossessed Mexicans • Depopulation of California Indians & more wars with Indians • Land and resources • Conflict over slavery moved westward