Chapter 17: Go West Young Man! Westward Expansion, 1840-1900

Key Terms

the process by which an Indian was “redeemed” and assimilated into the American way of life by changing his clothing to western clothing and renouncing his tribal customs in exchange for a parcel of land
Battle of Wounded Knee
an attempt to disarm a group of Lakota Sioux Indians near Wounded Knee, South Dakota, which resulted in members of the Seventh Cavalry of the U.S. Army opening fire and killing over 150 Indians
bonanza farms
large farms owned by speculators who hired laborers to work the land; these large farms allowed their owners to benefit from economies of scale and prosper, but they did nothing to help small family farms, which continued to struggle
California Gold Rush
the period between 1848 and 1849 when prospectors found large strikes of gold in California, leading others to rush in and follow suit; this period led to a cycle of boom and bust through the area, as gold was discovered, mined, and stripped
Comstock Lode
the first significant silver find in the country, discovered by Henry T. P. Comstock in 1859 in Nevada
a term used to describe African Americans who moved to Kansas from the Old South to escape the racism there
Fence Cutting War
this armed conflict between cowboys moving cattle along the trail and ranchers who wished to keep the best grazing lands for themselves occurred in Clay County, Texas, between 1883 and 1884
las Gorras Blancas
the Spanish name for White Caps, the rebel group of Hispanic Americans who fought back against the appropriation of Hispanic land by whites; for a period in 1889–1890, they burned farms, homes, and crops to express their growing anger at the injustice of the situation
Manifest Destiny
the phrase, coined by journalist John O’Sullivan, which came to stand for the idea that white Americans had a calling and a duty to seize and settle the American West with Protestant democratic values
Sand Creek Massacre
a militia raid led by Colonel Chivington on an Indian camp in Colorado, flying both the American flag and the white flag of surrender; over one hundred men, women, and children were killed
sod house
a frontier home constructed of dirt held together by thick-rooted prairie grass that was prevalent in the Midwest; sod, cut into large rectangles, was stacked to make the walls of the structure, providing an inexpensive, yet damp, house for western settlers


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