The Subjugation Of The American West

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Manifest Destiny! This simple phrase enraptured the United States during the late 1800’s, and came to symbolize an era of westward expansion through numerous powerful entities. The expansion can be inspected though many different contextual lenses, but if examined among the larger histories of the United States, this movement can be classified as one of the most influential developments of the post-Civil War period. While very influential to the larger part of American history, the seemingly barbaric methods that were used conquer the western lands and their peoples took physical and economical forms that proved to be a plague upon the West. The movement westward during the late 1800’s created new tensions among already strained relations with current Native American inhabitants. Their lands, which were guaranteed to them via treaty with the United States, were now beginning to be intruded upon by the massive influx of people migrating from the east. This intrusion was not taken too kindly, as Native American lands had already been significantly reduced due to previous westward conquest. Growing resentment for the federal government’s Reservation movement could be felt among the native population. One Kiowa chief’s thoughts on this matter summarize the general feeling of the native populace. “All the land south of the Arkansas belongs to the Kiowas and Comanches, and I don’t want to give away any of it” (Edwards, 203). His words, “I don’t want to give away any of it”, seemed to a mantra among the Native Americans, and this thought would resound among them as the mounting tensions reached breaking point. By 1870, most of the Native American population had been subdued onto even smaller reservations. Due to the expansion of the ... ... middle of paper ... ...y advances to conquer the West. Through shear physical force, the U.S. Army defeated and suppressed the Native American population, gaining a tremendous amount of land and securing the ability for an easy western migration. Many atrocities, such as the mass murder of entire tribes, were committed to secure the land. The suppression of the natives allowed the migrants to settle in the newly acquired land. The economic investment of Eastern companies into the new agricultural and cattle industry allowed the eastern markets to control production in the West, easily making or breaking the farmers. It comes to question, was the conquering of the West a tragedy or a triumph? It is clear that, although the conquering of the West was beneficial to the larger part of American history, it is a tragedy that it was done through physical suppression and outside economical control.

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