Western expansion across the united states took full swing after the civil war. The US government could use the full brunt of the army to fight the native tribes that were the only thing stopping civilians from settling the land in the west. Native tribes were really no match for the modern US military. Especially since they were not unified nor had formal military training with firearms. They also had a lot of civilians they had to look out for, which the US military was not very concerned with keeping safe. It is really one of the worst things the US government had done to any people as a whole. It would be considered today to be a genocide. They native tribes were given smaller and smaller reservations to live on and their way of life was completely taken from them, there were also schools set up to teach young native children about western culture and language. The schools were only successful in stripping them of their native language and customs. They no longer fit in with their own people and were not accepted by white people either.
Cowboys are also a big part of the wild west. After the wild buffalo was almost made extinct by over hunting with modern weapons it opened up the plains for domesticated cows to feed and be transported across the plains. The modern cowboy was born. These rough and tough men would ride in the open plains and take these herds across wide expanses of land.
The cowboy was made extinct by the small invention of barbed wire. This allowed a cheap way for farmers to keep cows in an enclosed area very easily.
The gold rush in California was also a reason many people decided to travel west and make their lives there. The people who made the most money during the gold rush weren’t gold miners, but men who sold gold miners equipment. These merchants made a fortune selling food, and tools to these men who wanted to mine for gold. A lot of gold mining towns popped up all over the state, some turned into huge cities that still exist today, some turned into ghost towns when no one found gold there anymore.
The federal government established the US marshals a federal law enforcement agency to help deal with the lawlessness of the wild west. Many towns had their own law enforcement as well, but some of these actually got into altercations with the federal marshals. The federal marshals did a lot to try and stopped outlaws in the west. Outlaws became famous with the wild west. It was easy in those days to be an outlaw one day and a lawman the next. One of the most famous lawmen in the wild west was actually a horse thief before he became a lawman.
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