Frontiers, South and West
The New South: Southerners had a tendency
to look back on the "good old days" of the Ante-bellum South; but
others understood that the South must get away from agriculture. The day of
"King Cotton" was over. The South must follow the North's lead, and
The first industry to really flower in the South was Textiles. Textile mills
developed quickly in the South, increasing the consumption of cotton in the
region. Many mill workers were women and children. This was primarily the result
of Southern Capital and Southern labor, an attempt to rebuild.
Tobacco production increased with
production of Burley and Brightleaf tobacco. The Brightleaf was first cured in
Durham, N.C., in a package with a bull on the label; hence the term "Bull
Durham." The Duke family of North Carolina also made a fortune in Tobacco,
founding the American Tobacco Company.
Sharecropping and Tenant Farming became prevalent in Agriculture.
The Redeemers: South still had leading people, the former gentry and elite, who
seemed to preserve or "redeem" the old Southern way of life. They
presumably "saved" the South from Yankee domination. They were almost
all Democrats. Actually, they were entrepreneurs who promoted diversifying the
Southern economy, and at the same time promote white supremacy.
The opponents of the Redeemers called them "Bourbons," after the
French Bourbons, whom Napoleon said had learned nothing and forgotten nothing in
the French Revolution. They said this of the Redeemers, they forgot nothing or
learned nothing from the Civil War. Redeemers pushed for cutting back the size
of government, including education. They also leased out convicts to work, a
"chain gang" operation. This was a direct throwback to slavery; as
most of the convicts were black.
They scaled back the public debt by simply repudiating a majority of it.
Despite the Fifteenth Amendment, Southern states went to great lengths to keep
Blacks from voting. (disenfranchisement):
1. lengthy residence requirements that would be difficult for Blacks to meet;
since most of them were tenant farmers, and moved frequently.
South Carolina practiced this one; and
the list of "crimes" was interesting. Wife beating was a
1. Poll taxes which had to be paid early in election year.
2. Disqualification for certain crimes.
3. Literacy. One had to be able to read and "understand" the
Constitution to the satisfaction of the Registrar. This one was obvious.
Blacks might be asked to interpret a difficult provision; and the Clerk was
The Southern states devised a number of statutes and ways to keep the races
segregated. All public places were segregated; restaurants, railroad cars,
hospitals, stadiums, etc. These laws took the name of a character from the old
Minstrel shows. "Jim Crow laws." The law was challenged when Homer
Plessy, an Octoroon (a person of 1/8 black blood) was convicted of refusing to
leave a White railroad car when ordered to do so. The case reached the Supreme
Court in the decision of Plessy vs. Ferguson: There the Court held the
separate facilities were legal, as long as they were equal. Hence
"separate but equal."
Two Black spokesmen worked for advancement of the race:
Booker T. Washington: argued for economic advancement without
resisting the law. He ad-vocated to work where you are and improve your
station in life. He founded the Tuskegee In-stitute which specialized in
diverse uses of the peanut.
W.E.B. DuBois: highly educated, Harvard Graduate, opposed
Washington's position. He said that the key was education and enfranchisement.
He also demanded that legalized segregation cease.
The New West : Immediately after the Civil War, the West
was sparsely populated. The people who lived there were mostly Mexicans, with
a few Asians, trappers, miners, and of course Mormons. The Great Plains of the
U.S. were still considered the "Great American Desert," there was
little water, little timber for building, and it was thus perfect for Indians,
but for no one else.
Several events created new interest in development in the Great Plains:
1. New discoveries of Gold and Silver. The first discovery had been in
California, and had led to the California Gold Rush. Miners had been followed
by peddlers, saloonkeepers, prostitutes, card sharps, etc. all out to
"mine the miners."
1858 * Gold was found at Pike's Peak. A rush developed there also. Many wag-ons
were seen with "Pike's Peak or Bust" written on the side. They often
passed wagons going the other way which read "Busted, by God." In
1859, the Comstock Lode was discovered in Nevada. It proved to be the larg-est
Gold Strike in the U.S. Over 20 years, it produced over $300, million in gold
and silver. The last major Gold discovery in the U.S. was at Deadwood, South
Wild Bill Hickock was murdered at
Deadwood. He was shot in the back while playing poker. He had two aces and two
eights in his hand, which has henceforth been called a "dead man's
2. Completion of the Transcontinental Railroad also
helped develop the West. It made Eastern Markets and cities more accessible
and reachable in a shorter time.
4. The destruction of the Buffalo
5. Collapse of Indian Resistance.
6. Rise of range cattle Industry.
Most of the people who settled in the West were prosperous white families;
but many were from Western Europe, primarily Ireland, Scandinavia, and Germany.
Whites often resisted Black immigration. Southerners worried about the loss of
cheap labor, and attempted to stop their immigration. Also, the continuing
prejudice that existed before the war was still present.Once in 1879, a group of Whites closed the
Mississippi River, and threatened to sink any boat carrying Blacks. Also, one
Black man went to Kansas and went back via the Mississippi to get his family. On
the way he was stopped, and had his hands cut off.
Life on the Prairies was hard for Blacks, and many of them returned; many moved
to Northern and Eastern cities to settle. However, 25% of "Cowboys"
were black. Indians referred to Black Cowboys as "Buffalo soldiers."
The Indian Wars: Indians had lived on the Great Plains for
many years. They depended heavily on the Buffalo for their survival. They made
clothes from buffalo hides, burned the dung for fuel, used bones for support for
their teepees; boiled the hooves for glue, etc.
A number of agreements were made between the U.S. Government and the Indians,
reserving specific lands for the Indians; but the Government consistently broke
promises made to the Indians, and tried to take Indian lands. Understandably,
the Indians resisted, not only at broken promises, but at the demise of their
way of life.
They had several legitimate gripes: They were forced to live on the worst land
with the poorest soil; and Buffalo were killed with abandon; often from railroad
cars; sometimes for buffalo robes, sometimes simply for sport.
One result of White treatment of Indians was the Great Sioux War of 1874 - 76.
The Indian leader was Crazy Horse; the Indian's spiritual leader was Sitting
Bull, who had counted Coup so many times that he had a war bonnet that trailed
behind him, and had four staffs, all with numerous rows of feathers. Sitting
Bull had had a vision in which he said he had seen blue coats (Indian term for
soldiers) falling head first from the sky. This seemed an omen of a great
Indian victory. He told them it would be the "final victory" over the
The Army regiment they met was commanded by Col. George Armstrong Custer. It was
a total defeat for the Army, now known as Custer's last stand.
Custer had been the youngest Brigadier in
the history of the army. He had graduated last in his class at West Point, and
was known to be proud and vain. The Indians called him "yellow hair"
because of his blond hair which we wore long. He fancied himself as dashing, and
often wore bright colored sashes with his uniform. He married money, and took
advantage of the fact. His family called him Armstrong; but his wife called him
"Audie." He had been at Appomattox with Grant, where he had been
Grant's flag bearer.
Later, he had been court martialed, for dereliction of duty. A group of men had
deserted a fort where Custer was commander. He had strict orders to protect the
fort because of the danger of Indian attack. He was so furious over the
desertion of the men, that he went after them and left the fort unprotected in
direct violation of his orders. He returned and was disciplined by loss of rank,
and removal from active duty for several months.
He disliked Grant, whom he called a
drunken fool, and had all ideas that if he became a hero in the Indian Wars, he
himself could become President. When he attacked the Sioux at Little Bighorn
Creek, he again acted contrary to orders. He was to wait for reinforcements, but
did not want to share the glory with anyone else. The result was 210 men
completely wiped out in minutes by over 2,500 Indians from several different
There is some evidence that other officers heard the battle and realized Custer's
predicament; but their dislike of him was so great that they let him deal with
it himself; thereby letting him get killed. Custer never admitted he made a
mistake. Indians who were there later testified that his last words were
"Aha, Boys, we've got 'em."
After his death, Custer's wife tried to create a hero image for him, which is
the only reason he has made it into the History books. He was in fact a total
Shortly thereafter, at Wounded Knee, South Dakota, 200
Indians who were attempting to reach Canada were slaughtered by the Army. As a
result, Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce Indians made his famous pronouncement that
"I will fight no more forever."
Treatment of the Indians was a story of repeated broken
promises and abuse. Helen Hunt Jackson wrote a book, A Century of Dishonor,
which is generally considered the Indian Uncle Tom's Cabin.
In 1924, the Indians were made American Citizens.
Cattle and Cowboys: Cattle grazed free-range on the plains;
they were annually herded up in cattle drives by cowboys and herded to
""cow towns" where they were loaded on to railroad cars and
shipped back East for slaughter. There was a tremendous market for Western Beef
in the East. They were typically shipped to Sedalia and Abilene Kansas, or Omaha
Nebraska where they met the Railroad. Again, the advantages of the
Cattle drives were not sound, economically. Later the invention of barbed wire
made en-closure of cattle more profitable. That plus the extension of the
Railroads deeper into the west ended the era of the cattle drive and the cowboy.