Regions of the U.S. Series: West
Date: June 2006
Duration: 2 hours 0 minutes
The Early Settlers. Native Americans. The earliest migrants to the western hemisphere come from Asian Siberia across a land bridge eventually moving and settling throughout the Western Hemisphere (3.10.00) = In the West. The coastal tribes have a fishing culture. Inland are hunting and agricultural tribes, all adapting to the climate and lay of the land. Against the tendency to romanticize the life of the Indians, they are in reality complex humans, some peaceful, some warlike. Women are dominant in some tribes. There are economic connections between some tribes. Others are migratory. French influence spreads by fur trading. English influence is in Canada. (11.57.00) = The Spanish. The Spanish establish New Spain in Louisiana and migrate northward from Mexico, clash with Indian tribes already here. The power of the Spanish noble class. Spanish Catholicism and the conversion of Indian tribes. Spain makes major inroads from the 1500s to the 1700s. (18.17.00) = The 19th Century-1st Half. Transition. The Lewis and Clark expedition in 1803 and the Louisiana Purchase beyond to the Northwest are incentives for future Western migration. South America, Central America and Mexico are breaking away from harsh Spanish rule. Mexico includes the entire Southwest including California. (21.21.00) = The Slave-Holding South. King Cotton wears out the soil so the South needs more land, spreading slavery. Texas, a province of Mexico, is conducive to Southern crops. Mexico sanctions slavery and welcomes Southern whites as an aid to the development of this Mexican region. (24.04.00) = Texas Becomes Independent. In the 1830s the transplanted Southerners want Texas to be independent from Mexico. After their defeat at the Alamo the Texans win their war with Mexico and form an independent nation of Texas in 1836. (29.10.00) = Annexation of Texas. Under President James Polk Texas is annexed to the U.S. as a slave state. The North approves of the expansion but not the expansion of slavery. (30.57.00) = The Mexican War. Border disputes with Mexico continue, and President Polk declares war on Mexico after provoking a military incident. This is a dirty war which is opposed by Henry Clay and Abraham Lincoln for adding a slave state. The U.S. wins and acquires 1/3 of Mexico including California. The discovery of gold in California in 1849, the Gold Rush, and rapid population of California by small farmers looking for a better life, small business people, and later, blacks fleeing the South. (32.57.00) = Role of Legislation in the West. The 1820 Missouri Compromise creates the dividing line between the North and South for slavery. The Compromise of 1850. California enters as a free state, allows slavery in New Mexico and Arizona but not north of that. Slavery abolished in D.C. The Fugitive Slave Act is passed. (36.44.00) = The 19th Century-2nd Half. The Question of Slavery in the West region not yet states is the key issue. The Republican Party, formed in 1854, opposes expansion of slavery. Homestead farmers going west resist expansion of slavery. They do not want competition from the slave owners, and also for racist reasons. The Dred Scott Decision opens the entire West to slavery. The Kansas-Nebraska Act allows the people of the territories decide to be free or slave. (37.12.00) = The Civil War. The North wins. Slavery is abolished by the 13th Amendment. (37.40.00) = The trek West. Wagon trains, routes laid out. Indian attacks now rare, more likely white outlaws blaming Indians. The most danger is now from disease, especially cholera. Some Indians are helpful, challenging the mythology of the hostility of Indians. The world of nature is hospitable for Indians. Settlers see nature to be used, made into a commodity for extractable industries of oil and mining. (45.44.00) = The Rise of Unions. Mining is the key industry in the Rocky Mountain states, with immigrants from from the East, Far East, and Canada the main labor force. Improved technology, drills versus picks, increases danger. Miners respond with violence. Their attempts to organize unions in the early 20th century is met with violence. (50.01.00) = Role of the Railroads. The western edge of the railroads are built by Chinese laborers who are a despised minority and suffer extreme exploitation. The railroads are initially welcomed by the farmers in the late 19th century. They are granted free land by the federal government, as much as 7-10% of the U.S. land mass, to benefit the national economy, but exploit this to the disadvantage of the small farmers. There is monumental corruption by the merchants. (58.00.00) = Land Use and Violence. The millions of bison in the Great Plains are systematically destroyed. The rise of the cattle ranchers, their need for water, the clash over water rights and land use with farmers. (1.04.50.00) = The Folklore of Violence. The Eastern public romanticizes the history of violence in the West, treating outlaws in the post-Civil War era as folklore. There is racial violence against Chinese laborers, personal violence in the absence of strong public authority. Violence against strikers. In Ludlow, Colorado, strikers are fired upon by vigilantes hired by John D. Rockefeller, resulting in a massacre. (1.08.00) = Women in the West. National suffrage does not come until the 1920s but in the Rocky Mountain states women get the right to vote in state and local elections. (1.11.44.00) = Regional Upheavals. Farmers clash with railroad magnets. Nature is seen as an extractable quantity. Preservation of national parks versus harvesting of valuable timber? Preservation of Yosemite or flooded over by water interests for reservoir? The Colorado River is tapped by various business interest leaving finally just a trickle. (1.12.22.00) = Enforcement of Legislation. The Timber Act prohibits wanton cutting of forests, but owners find ways around it, and smaller loggers are pushed out. The uses and misuses of water continues as an issue today. (1.18.22.00) = The Populist Movement. Movement arises from the Farmers Alliances in 1890s. The farmers thrive during the Civil War, but after demobilization produce sales are reduced. Mining states find silver, call for "free silver," for silver to be combined with gold in currency in a ratio of 15 to 1. Farmers face an increasing urbanized society.
Race in the Far West. The Chinese and Mexican-Americans. They are the original settlers, but become virtual slaves in the South as sharecroppers. (1.22.00) = The Japanese. influx to the far West brings capitalist mentality, are successful farmers and business people. There is much hostility against them. The San Francisco Board of Education's attempt to segregate Japanese students is protested by the Japanese government. President Theodore Roosevelt shares this racism but respects Japan's emergence as a world power and treats the case with more care, causing the Board of Education to back off. (3.50.00) = The American Indians. Continually pushed westward. The Indians Wars after the Civil War attempt to finish them off. The Wounded Knee massacre. The issue of co-existing or fighting back. The fate of the Western Indians is put in the hands of the Bureau of Indian Affairs and suffer its corruption. The attempt of missionaries to Americanize the Indians. In the 20th century Indians encounter enormous prejudice against them. (12.35.00) = The Role of the KKK. National revival of the KKK in the 1920s, they are also powerful in the West, directing racism against blacks, labor, Indians, Catholics, Jews. They see themselves as moral arbiters of the country. (13.49.00) = The 20th Century-1st Half. Great Economic Leaps. Oil and timber industries thrive. The San Joaquin Valley becomes the breadbasket of the West. (14.28.00) = The 1930s Great Depression hits the West hard. Unemployment is high and workers lose their role as consumers. New Deal legislation affects the West but with mixed results. Public projects include Boulder Dam, Hoover Dam, Grand Coolie Dam which provide electricity and employment. The WPA creates everyday kinds of jobs, and the CCC employs teenagers to work in national forests, addressing the psychological aspect of self worth following work. (17.53.00) = Small Farmers & the Depression. Small farmers suffer from 1921 when they lose the Army market following demobilization after World War I ends, and because of increased foreign competition. The Great Depression makes their plight worse. There is further tragedy in the Great Plain States when drought combines with erosion from over-farming to create dust storms which blow away top soil. Farmers are forced to leave, become displaced to California along with blue collar workers, business people. The New Deal aid. They suffer from 1921 when they lose the Army market following demobilization after World War I ends, and because of increased foreign competition. The Great Depression makes their plight worse. There is further tragedy in the Great Plain States when drought combines with erosion from over-farming to create dust storms which blow away top soil. Farmers are forced to leave, become displaced to California along with blue collar workers, business people. . (24.50.00) = World War II Ends the Depression. Agriculture booms, industries needed for war greatly expand. The dark side is the internment of Japanese-Americans who are forcefully displaced from their homes, farms, and businesses by the government who knows at that time they are not a national security threat. Motivation is economic at times and the element of prejudice. (28.36.00) = The 20th Century-2nd Half. The Cold War. The wartime boom continues with the beginning of the Cold War. Farming evolves into large scale corporation farms as agribusiness requiring cheap labor, sounding the death knell of the old time family farm. The Oakies are now in military industries. Instead the Chicanos and Mexicans are the low cost labor force working under degrading conditions. The United Farm Workers union under Caesar Chavez tries to relieve the worst conditions. (32.32.00) = Organized Labor. Dave Beck is head of the Teamsters which us somewhat corrupt. Harry Bridges the Longshoremen's effective leader in the West, is sympathetic to the Communist Party, is incorruptible. Clashes between Bridge's and Beck's unions. Cold War hysteria against Bridges (35.30.00) = The American Indians. Problems continue with Reservation life even after development of casinos whose profits are not shared or exploited by outsiders. In the 1960s the American Indian Movement attempts to revive and understand its remarkable history going back centuries. There is the belief that to deny a people's history is to control them (38.27.00) = Migration. In the 1950s migration to the West and Northwest heightens. California becomes the most populated state, with more political clout because of its electoral vote. (39.31.00) = The New Right. The far right emerges in the West with Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan, with anti-government attitude, argues that government should not interfere in business but should in personal behavior and morals. Retirees move to Oregon. The Pacific rim is now a crucial economic factor for the world. (42.41.00) = The Myth of the West. is deeply ingrained in the U.S. The cowboy image is a selective image, the John Wayne myth. One quarter to one third of cowboys are African-Americans. The mythology is extended by Hollywood, literature, detective stories, which use a Los Angeles or San Francisco theme. Politically, economically, and racially, the West is a crucial part of our history and future. (45.15.00) = African-Americans. They are ghettoized in Oakland, California. The civil rights movement of the 1960s and the rise of the Black Panther Party of black militants. The Watts riots in the 1960s are caused by rising expectations of LBJ's Great Society thwarted by the Vietnam War. (50.48.00) = The Mormons. They are despised as religious outsiders practicing polygamy and as an entity to themselves not loyal to the U.S. Under the leadership of Brigham Young they settle in Utah by the Great Salt Lake. Mormons come to dominate the area after Utah becomes a state.