Students have read about how Americans pushed out onto the western frontier
after the Civil War. In this activity students will examine the different factors
that encouraged settlement of the West.
Students will use information from the New Perspectives of the West Web site
to learn about the factors that encouraged western settlement. Students will
read about the people who headed west and the impacts of the transcontinental
railroad, the Homestead Act, and the cattle industry. Students will also view
images, documents, and profiles of the settlers. Students will then answer four
questions and apply this information by creating a class bulletin board of job
notices that advertise for cowhands.
- Students will identify the factors that influenced western settlement and
characterize the people who settled the west.
- Students will be able to use this knowledge to create a class bulletin board
of job notices that advertise for cowhands.
Student Web Activity Answers
- Among those who headed west after the Civil War were Civil War veterans,
farmers from the East, landless peasants from Europe, Mexicans, formerly enslaved
persons, Chinese railroad workers, and Mormons.
- Answers may include the fact that the railroad made it easier to cross the
Great Plains and the mountains. The construction of the railroad itself brought
thousands of settlers, many of whom stayed in the West. The race between the
railroads brought thousands of workers to the West quickly, speeding up the
natural and slower migration pattern. Settlers and soldiers headed west to
support the construction crews.
- To participate in the Homestead Act, prospective settlers had to meet the
following conditions: be the head of a family or 21 years old, be a U.S. citizen
or intend to become one, have never fought in a war against the United States,
and not claim more than 160 acres. The Homestead Act encouraged settlement
because it offered land to anyone who made a claim, paid a $10 fee, and farmed
the land for five years or more.
- The cattle industry gave the railroads transport business, and the railroads
provided the cattle industry with access to the eastern markets.
- Students' job notices will vary.
Go To Student Web Activity