21H.102 | Spring 2018 | Undergraduate

American History Since 1865

Lecture Notes

Lecture 5 - Conflict and Conquest in the Frontier West

Main questions

  • What are the different dimensions of “incorporation” — spatial, economic, and demographic?
  • What is “the West?” How has the concept changed from 1776 to the mid 19th century?
  • In what ways is “the West” a concept as opposed to space?
  • Was United States policy towards Native Americans genocide?

Key concepts and terms

  • Gilded Age (commentary on authenticity)
  • Exodusters
  • “Indian Wars” (ca. 1860–1890)
    • Solutions to the “Indian problem”: extermination or assimilation
    • Decimation of buffalo herds = destroy people who rely on them for livelihood
    • Near extinction of the American bison
  • Sand Creek Massacre
  • Dawes Act (1887): privatization of land by family rather than tribe
  • Battle of Wounded Knee
  • Carlisle Indian School (Indian boarding schools)
  • “Myth of the Disappearing Indian”
  • Chinese Central Pacific Railroad Workers
  • Transcontinental Railroad
  • Chinese Exclusion Act
  • Land grants for railroad companies, universities, and homesteaders
  • Industrialization of space and time
  • Industrialization of agriculture (e.g. grain elevators, stock yards)
  • Railroads and transformation of locality, time, and space
    • Time zones

Key individuals

  • Frederick Jackson Turner, “Frontier Thesis”
    • Language of development / evolution to describe social process
    • The West as a site of conflict vs. site of unity
    • “Free land”

Course Info

As Taught In
Spring 2018
Learning Resource Types
Written Assignments with Examples
Lecture Notes