The American West was viewed as a land of opportunity and success for many people of different racial and financial backgrounds during the time between 1865 to 1890. However, the extent of success from the opportunity varied on multiple factors. For the homesteader, opportunity was based upon good weather conditions and hard work but mostly only large scale corporations succeeded. Mining provided little for the average miner; large mining industries profited instead.. At some point West was the land of opportunity and at the same time it was not a land of opportunity for Native American Indians and Minorities.
The Homestead Act of 1862 was one of the most significant and enduring events in the westward expansion of the United States. It gave 160 acres of western land to anyone who promised to work the land for five years. This encouraged many immigrants to come to the United States and help settle the West. But the land was too arid for a homesteader to manage 160 acres. Life was hard in the west because of the harsh environment. They had sand storm and droughts, made impossible for farmers to farm. Very few actually made it work and managed to keep their homesteads.
Opportunity was unpredictable for the average person, corporations benefited largely from the West (i. e. railroads). When the Transcontinental Railroad was finished in 1869, railroad tycoons realized the opportunity for railroad exploitation and then a railroad boom followed the economic recovery in 1878. Expansion of the railroads brought trade, settlers, and towns. Mining also played a major role during that time period. Gold, Silver, Lead, Copper, Zinc were traded with other countries which helped our nation’s economy.
Ethnocentrism was the root of the problem for Native Americans and contributed their downfall and their loss of land and livelihood. Indians were pushed off their native lands onto reservations. Immigrants struggled to reach equal work standards and pay as whites. In conclusion, at some point American West land helped build up United States economy. Railroad made it easier for people to travel and to trade with other countries easily. But Homestead Act made it impossible for people to farm because of the the bad soil.
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