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HIstory American West

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History Coursework - Describe the problems of living in a newly set up town in the West. When the white people first came to America, they all needed towns, there were several different groups of people like Miners, Mormons, Cattlemen, Cowboys and Homesteaders. The Miners needed towns where they could sell their gold, buy supplies and enjoy themselves. Mormons needed a community to support their unique beliefs and lifestyle. Cattlemen, Cowboys and Homesteaders all found that railhead towns fulfilled their needs. The towns were built with haste and were unplanned. The people did not think about education, public health, religion, doctors, dentists, etc. They mainly thought about building saloons, hotels, gambling halls and so on. They saw social life as more important than civil society. The white people never stayed in towns very long, they moved on to look for a new job, better life, or just because the town was losing its edge. This caused lack of trust and friendship because the people could not stay friends when you are constantly moving. Living in the frontier had a very free feeling, but after a while people started to take advantage of this and the frontiers became lawless. The people living in the frontiers took law in their own hands and accepted the violence. It became a part of their life, to see gunfights daily. It became so violent that people started shooting each other for no reasons. ...read more.


In this way cowboys could start as small ranchers. But this was one of the factors leading to the Johnson County war. Because of these factors there were a lot of crimes committed, like Bank robbery, Cattle rustling, Claim jumping, Fence cutting, Horse stealing, Racial attacks, Stagecoach robberies, Shootings and Train robberies. Bank robberies were caused by poor law enforcement; therefore the robbers could easily get away with the crime. One of the most famous bank robbers were the James-Younger band. They robbed banks from 1866-1882, but in 1876 a robbery in a bank in Northfield, Minnesota went wrong. The townspeople fought back and killed two of the gang members, the rest were wounded. This is an example of someone taking law into their own hands with a negative result. Claim jumping was mainly a problem in gold or silver mines. People would claim the land, which had already been claimed by someone else. There was nothing to do about this because the law enforcement was so far away. Another crime was fence cutting; Cattle barons put up fences to enclose vast areas but did not know they were cutting off homesteaders and small ranchers from their food and water sources. The homesteaders and small ranchers would cut the fences because they did not want to be cut off from their water and food sources. ...read more.


The young unmarried women were certain to find a rich husband very soon, but most of them drifted into the entertainment world as fancy girls at dance halls, saloons or gambling halls. Most of the miners were not interested in women or wives; they were just interested in digging up heaps of gold. Some women put their cooking skills to good use. The miners would come back from work and would be exhausted, the women would them get them to taste and the miners would be convinced. If he would come home he would be welcomed by the smell of a good meal. Some women would be such successful cooks that they would set up their own restaurants. Women would also wash men's shirts for one dollar apiece and sometimes made more than her husband with what he came home with from his diggings. When children arrived, more schools were developed. This meant teachers had to be hired which meant more jobs for the women. Churches were developed to get rid of lawless Sundays. Then there were even temperance league's were added to saloons, so men would not get so drunk and out of hand. All these factors helped the towns by giving them more education, health, etc. The women dealt with the problems well and found solutions to most of them. These factors also helped controlling lawlessness in the west. Mitchell Routledge March 2007 History Law And Order In The American West Mitchell Routledge British School of Houston Mr. Craggs ...read more.

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