Native Americans in the United States and Hardy Individualism

Prompt: Although the development of the Trans-Mississippi West is popularly associated with hardy individualism, it was in fact largely dependent on the federal government. Assess the validity of this statement with specific reference to western economic activities in the 19th century.

In the late 1800s and early 1900s, the idea of the far west captivated many. The chance to begin life anew attracted thousands of individuals and families alike to move out west and escape their current life, which was usually full of poverty and for some, full of discrimination. As the west expanded and grew into an important part of the United States, westerners found it somewhat difficult to survive with important resources going scarce. Although the development of the Trans-Mississippi west is mainly associated with hardy individualism, the west’s development as a whole was largely the result of the aid of the federal government by constructing railroads, promoting and protecting the land, and removing the Indian tribes.

Railroads were an integral part of the west; without them the West would not be successful. The distance of the west from the rest of the country was large and the only way to reach the west was through a long, tiresome journey by wagon. The Pacific Railroad Act of 1862 paved the way for the expansion of the railroads. The Act gave companies land to build railroads. The faster the company built the railroad, the faster they could get more land, which they usually sold for profit later on. The construction of the railroad benefitted many who were not living in the west, namely Chinese immigrants. With thousands of workers, railroad companies had to ensure their safety to prevent being sued and frowned upon by the public.