DBQ: Settlement of the Western Frontier
During the years between 1840 and 1890, the land west of the Mississippi River experienced a wild and sporadic growth. The natural environment contributed greatly to this growth spurt and helped shape the development of the trans-Mississippi west. The natural environment dictated and facilitated the development of the west by way of determining who settled where, how the people survived, why people wanted to settle, and whether they were successful or not. Many Americans packed few belongings and headed west during the middle to the late nineteenth century. It was during this time period that the idea of manifest destiny became rooted in American customs and ideals. Manifest Destiny is the
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As a result of this picking and choosing of lands, families were often isolated, where the nearest family was often miles away. The natural environment determined what type of people settled in which places. Families looking to settle permanently and plant roots settled on the land best fit for farming. Young and adventurous emigrants looking to make a quick profit from speculating the land or mining it settled and developed quick cities. The west was rich in natural minerals such as gold, silver, and coal. These natural resources and the prospect of making a quick profit brought many young men to the west. These emigrants were not looking to settle, but to make a quick profit and return home. Cities like Portland, San Antonio, and Denver practically grew overnight as people flocked to get their share of the gold, as seen in Document D and G. News of riches in California facilitated the California gold rush and literally transformed the state overnight. Cattle herding became popular during this time. The lush and abundant grass of the prairie was ideal for grazing cattle, and that became a profit making profession, as seen in Document I.
The pioneers of the west were faced with many obstacles. Climate changes caused the devastation of crops and many families' livelihood, as seen in Document C. The families also had to face the angry Native Americans, who did not want them imposing on their land. Death from battles