North American Frontier: Beginning and End.

Essay by wetoddUniversity, Bachelor'sA+, August 2003

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In the early 1800's, a vast amount of unexplored land and untouched natural resources drove American pioneers towards the West. Ranchers, traders, farmers, and miners led the movement with business men not far behind. Wealth, adventure and political power were the main course of motivations. The settlers by the thousands moved over the Appalachian Mountains into new states and territories. They flocked into Texas, California, and other western lands belonging to Mexico.

The free-homestead policy of 1862 did it's job at defeating land monopolies. Many farmers, however, lacked the economic means to move West and manage a farm. But it was covered in corruption my speculators adn corporate investments. The Homestead Act's biggest weakness however, was not taking into account conditions on the frontier. The 160 acre lots were too large for irrigation and too small for dry-farming. At a later date, a revision of the policy was made and also failed.

The Timber and Desert Land Acts, served only to attract lumber tycoons and cattlemen. In the end, homesteaders were often forced to settle on less bountiful paths, or pay the higher price to speculators.

With the railroads. under the Pacific Railroad Act, Union Pacific, Central Pacific, Northern Pacific, Santa Fe, and Southern Pacific railroads farmers finally recieved a much needed break. Led by railroad promoters to believe in a bountiful West that had yet to be exploited, mass amounts of European immigrants were caught up in the movement West. The railroads provided exactly what the Homestead Acts did not: credit terms, good quality advertisement, larger land tracts, special passenger rates, and farming support for future Western settlers. The Northern Pacific Railway even promoted a method of wheat growing that could create a 100 percent profit. Lands sold by the railroads also hastened settlement because they provided the cheapest...