In this Essay, I will be discussing who contributed more to the settling of the American west, the Wagon train migrants or the gold miners. Before the Migrants and Miners went west, the only people to have been in the west were the Mountain men. These men hunted Beavers for there fur, and sold it to big companies such as the rocky fur company.
They would meet once a year at a rendezvous and socialise and trade. Joseph Walker and Jeddah Smith were both originally Mountain men, when the fur trade collapsed they became adventurers and planned many trails for migrants so they reached there destination safely.No one new the west better than the mountain men, news soon travelled back to the east of the good land in the west was.
Migrants flocked to the new land, between 1840 and 1860 the West changed dramatically, in 1840 the population was very low by 1860 the total population of California and Oregon was 432,000. Many families settled and lived there. San Francisco was a major city that was a finical centre rivalling New York. Before 1948, manly Farmers travelling west to Oregon. They became know as the Wagon train Migrants, as they made their journey in wagon trains.
They wanted to get away from the east because in 1837, there was big financial depression, many of the big banks were going bust and people were losing all of their money. People were losing money on everything 20,000 became unemployed in Philadelphia, those who had a job found they were losing up to 40% on their wages. Missouri Valley Farmers were not happy either as they felt it was becoming to overcrowded on the. The wheat prices had dropped dramatically as well. Oregon was appealing because there was plenty of good fertile land, which in 1942 was a Pre emption bill on it, meaning anybody could claim a piece of land.
The Media and Mountain Men were offering only good reports on how wonderful it was. After 1848, when America defeated f Mexico and gained California, most people travelled to California because gold had been discovered. People rushed over there to claim land so they could get the gold underneath it, before anyone else claimed it. Others migrated other there to open business such as salons for the gold miners to spend their money in.
I think that neither group went for better reasons, as they both went out to try to have a better quality of life.The farmers had a harder journey to get west, they travelled in Wagon trains. They took a hard journey across America in wagons pulled by Oxen’s. They had to cross many different land types, the Great Plains; many of the Migrants did not always make the journey alive or healthy. The Donner Party is an example of how dangerous the Wagon Migrant Journey could really be. Forty Adults and forty-one children started the hard journey, and only about 10 of them made it to Oregon. They faced every possible disaster; somewhere put on by them, and some were caused by other factors.They faced problems such as lack of supplies and water, early spring rains, 21 oxen killed by Indians and they were given bad information from a man called Jim Hastings, who caused them to take a longer more dangerous route that made them hit the early snow, meaning they could not cross the sierra Nevada.
Not all Wagon journeys were as eventful as the Donner parties were, but lots went through trouble at some stage of the journey. Many of the Gold Miners took a safer, they would sail round South America, and then back up to California, this was safe and only took a few months.Only a few could afford this, as it was very expensive. An alternative route, as to sail through the Caribbean sea, then travel through Panama in central America, then sail back up to California.
The journey through Panama could be dangerous as there were poisonous mosquitoes, and a hot humid climate. If traveller took along time travelling, and missed their boat up to California, they would be ripped off and forced to pay a lot for a boat. This was a quick way to get to California. Some people could think that this shows that the farmers where prepared to go through much more to get west.However, I that both groups went through equal amounts of hardship, but in different ways to get west. There was a belief, called manifest destiny, which was thought very strongly by politicians in the capital Washington.
Manifest destiny was God, to be occupied and governed by White people, meant the opinion that whole of North American. The belief was first publicised publicly in 1845. I think politicians made up the idea of manifest destiny so the American empire could increase. They wanted to encourage migration settlers with a conscience to travel to the west and take land of the Indians.I feel they also used this belief to justify taking land such as California of Mexico. I feel the wagon train migrants and gold miners genially thought that by migrating to the west they were doing Gods work as they were doing what god wanted them to do, and their thanks would be cheap fertile land for the farmers and gold for the gold miners. There was a great difference between the population of farmers and the population of gold miners. In 1860, sixty thousand people had become farmers in the west.
In 1848, farmers had the choice of migrating to either California or Oregon, as America had won California of Mexico. There was not a lot of difference between the populations of the states, as they were both fertile farming land. The farmers manly came from the east. Places like Philadelphia, New York and Miscopy. After 1848 when gold was discovered 380, 000 people went to California. They did not all come from America; people came from Europe and Asia. Miners went to make their fortune. Over went over there to open restraints and shops for the wealthy miners to spend their money in.
In total, 320,000 more people became miners than farmers did. The life of a miner was very different to the life of a farmer. Many people would say the farmers were a lot more civilised.
I would tend to agree with that statement for the following reasons. Firstly, once all the gold had been exhausted out of the rivers, Big Mining companies took over the control of mining as gold could only be found deep under ground. They employed people work for them. These were manly single men. Therefore, the population of mining towns were manly male.
With no families to think of the men started drinking and gambling for their entertainment, this also lead to lots of violence as fight would occur over money, there was no law and order although vigrant groups were set up. There was also a lot of racism towards people who had come form Asia. The all men population lead to an enormous amount of prostitution, as they had no female company of their own. Prosition also comes with lots of violence involving fees and pimps. The farmers were a lot more civilised as the only arguments that broke out were over who owned land, these were quickly solved, as there was records.Most of the farmers were families; I think this gave them a greater sense of responsibility as they did not want any trouble just to be able to provide for their children. The farmers worked together and would trade their products.
The farmers stayed longer than the gold miners, as the gold eventually got exhausted. Despite the negative things I mentioned about the gold miners, there were a lot of good effects of their settlement. They made the settlement of the West quicker. The gold and silver had to be transported from the west to the East which meant roads and railways had to be built.This made it easier to people to travel from the two sides of the country.
They made San Francisco one of the top finical centres in the world, rivalling New York. This impressed many people back in the east and pursued them to move over to California. Families started to settle in California, as it seemed like a place that was Ecomicly stable, unlike the East, which had suffered an ecomic depression. This might of happened quicker in areas where the wagon train migrants had settled, as the people there were already families who were not gambling and drinking, and it some ways were more concerned about living civillyIn conclusion, I feel that Both California and Oregon contributed the settling of the American west in their own ways. California provided finical and manufactured development of the west, which was needed.
But it is the type of people that maded the area. The miners were greedy, lazy and rough. Where as the farmers were community spirited hard working pleasant people in general. So I feel that the farmers contributed more socially and the miners more materially. Both equally imported factors to the development of the west.