Conquest of the West
At the 19th century, the Conquête of the West indicates the process of appropriation by the force of a gigantic territory, which extends in North America, between the the Mississippi and the Pacific Ocean. This area, which corresponds to the Western savage in American historiography, falls gradually under American sovereignty after many wars.
The concept of conquest of the West was worked out for the general public primarily at the time of John Ford during the Années 1950 using a great number of films of Western S carried out with Hollywood.
The differences between the built myth and the historical facts are emphasized in this article.
The US government forever declared the war with the Amerindians whom it almost exterminated, moreover this historical episode really classified forever officially like a Génocide. The decline of the Amerindian tribes was continuity in North America of the disappearance of the Civilizations précolombiennes of South America, perpetrated by the Spanish under the full power of the Catholic church, which dispatched its missionary S there dedicated.
Main causesThe conquest of the west related to thousands of individuals who moved towards the West of the continent of North America for very diverse reasons: the ones were going to seek fortune, or at least hoped to find better conditions of existence. The booklets of the railway companies praised the fertility and the vastness of the grounds of the West. The rise of the farm prices pushed the young couples to emigrate. The epidemics of the valleys of the east and the Malaria in the south of the United States were opposed to the healthy climate of the west coast.
Chronology of the conquest
The ordinances of 1785 and 1787 envisage a methodical cutting of development of the country. The ordinance of 1785 provides that the North-West is cut out in townships square format of six miles on side.
In 1787, it is expected that once opened with the population and surveyed, an area will become a territory on which a governor, a secretary, and a court of three judges, named by the Congress, will have authority.
War against Mexico
See also: américano-Mexican War
Wars against the Amerindians
See also: Indian Wars
Actors and means of the conquest
The conquest seen of the east coast
See also: Destinée expresses, Politique Indian of the US government
The conquest on the Amerindians does not achieve the unanimity among the Americans: certain partisans of the Destinée proclamation want to impose by the force the American Civilization. For them, the natives who refuse “civilization” must disappear by average violent ones: setting under supervision in reserves, tactic of the burned ground, wars, repressions. Generals such as Philip Sheridan or William Tecumseh Sherman were favorable to the massacre of the Amerindians. But this feeling is not shared by the federal government, the whole of the officers and the public opinion of the East . Others wish indeed that the Acculturation be made without violence, by the negotiation, education and the evangelization. Some philanthropists, journalists and Ethnologue S militate for the respect of the Amerindians and the stop of the massacres, after the American Civil War.
The American armyThe American army takes part in the deportation and the massacre of the Indians, and protects the convoys from carriages crossing the Grandes plains. The “blue tunics” often acted the worst in the ways, massacring, plundering, stealing and burning whole villages of Amerindians, in particular with Wounded Knee in 1890, and with Sand Creek. The principal defeat of the American soldiers took place in 1876 with Little Big Horn, in a confrontation between the seventh of cavalry and a union of tribes Sioux and Cheyennes. The Indians lost 26 men, against more than 200 for the blue tunics. The general George Armstrong Custer, ordering the regiment, also found death there. It was the last victory of the riders of the plain.
White colonizationBetween 1840 and 1860,360 000 people launch out on the tracks of Far West.
- the colonization of the wild West is encouraged by the federal government. During the XIXe century, the American Congress vote of the laws supporting the establishment of the farmers in the west of the Mississippi. In 1790, one counted approximately 100 000 Americans in the west of the the Appalachian Mountains. They are nearly 7 million in 1840.
- the colonists were not of the paupers: they were for the majority American farmers having a starting capital to remake their life in the West.
- the richnesses and the development of the American west also attracted foreigners: the gold rush made come from Europeans, Latin-American and the Chinese to California.
- tracks and the railroad: the revolution of transport accompanied the conquest by the west.
The penetration of the Americans follows the Piste of Santa Fe, which at the beginning of the XIXe century is traversed by regular connections on 1 000 km. With Santa Fe, the Americans sell weapons and shoddy goods; they gain with them skins of Bison S bought with the commancheros and blocks of money of the Arizona. In 1858, the lines of Diligence S ensure of the regular connections between San Francisco and Saint-Louis. The tracks are gradually abandoned with the development of the rail links, especially after the completion of the first transcontinental Railroad on May 10th 1869. The control of the American territory also passes by the installation of the Pony Express, the first postal service which went from Missouri to the west coast (1860-1861). The mail was then conveyed with back of horse. But in 1861, the transcontinental telegraph allows an instantaneous connection between the two ends of the country.
The Myth of the wild West
The Border and the pioneer spiritthe Border indicates a moving limit between the States in structuring of the colonization of the American continent by the indigenous United States and Canada on the one hand, and tribes. This border did not cease being pushed back towards the West, which gave the expression Go West, Young man, Go West! largely taken again by the Americans.
The Far West then represented millers of hectares of grounds and success appropriatenesses. When the war against Mexico finished, the California was added to the States of the Union, and the Border ceased being a limit beyond which the resources Bison S and grounds were supposed to be inexhaustible. California developed then by the means of the peaceful interface, attracting Chinese and Europeans who had made the voyage by boat. It was then the Gold rush, fever which made push certain cities like mushrooms.
It was then crossed by the Cheval of iron, as the tribes Aborigène S (with the clean direction) called it, which removed its aventuresque connotation définivement: the territory passed in the era of modern transport, and the company of Diligence S became an financial institution.
With leaving this time, second half of the 19th century still left spaces be colonized, the Border did not disappear physically: thus the structuring of the State of the Oregon in the north of California, continuing forests of Redwoods whose some with the legendary size, was a required passage for the Trappeur S and adventurers who would complete the adventure of the colonies of North America in Alaska, in particular in the Klondyke. The weather conditions were going to leave this space bought with the Russia tsarist still a long time a sanctuary for Nature.
The Border? Métaphoriquement, it disappeared forever from American mentality; the media men refer to it like Europeans with their medieval past.
example: to circle the coaches when a company has problems, is an invitation for its employees “to tighten the elbows” and to take the storm with arm the body; the expression of course refers to the carriages of the colonists who borrowed the tracks carrying out towards California. Other expressions return to the pioneer spirit which characterizes American mentality.
In the literature-->
With the cinema
See also: Western
PropagandistsJohn Wayne was a large propagandist who joint with the lyricism of films of John Ford to legitimate the conquest of the West to the eyes of an American public for which only two generations had run out since the last loads of the American cavalry on the camps located in the territories given to the Indians by the last treaties.
All work was to be made to wash the collective memory of all Sentiment of Culpabilité.
The first harnesses there in 1961 with the film Comanches ( The Comancheros ) realized by Michael Curtiz; one sees there of the Redskins developing techniques of combat observed at the army vietcong which resists obstinately at the time of the exit of film to the Théorie of the dominos : they plunder a fort of the army and launch raids with the rifles of the American army which they have flights.
Both are joined together, Wayne as actor, and Ford like realizer, in the film éponyme in this article, left in 1962: the Conquest of the West ( How The West Was Won ), corealized with Henry Hathaway and George Marshall. It is remarkable that the selected French translation gives Conquête of the West, whereas the American memory preserves the done everything idea of a “wild West” ( Wild West ).
The production of the western lyric legitimating the myth of the attacked white which protects its small holding allocated by the federal authorities ( three acres and has mule ) is so much river which it occults any form of handing-over in question: it is a bludgeoning of legends blusterers and adventurers violent ones, obsessed by gains, who will leave traces for a long time in the attraction that many inhabitants of the United States for the Firearms cultivate.
The Guerilla carried out by Géronimo to the New Mexico, its rendering, then the spectacle of Magic Circus of transformed the idea of Western Sauvage into field of Foire, hardly more different from a Fun fair in Europe.
The realistic ones
Little Big Man , film of Arthur PEN protagonisant Dustin Hoffman with a scene-key at the time of Battle of Little Big Horn, had not had a success mobilizing the popular masses to recognize the injustice of the perpetrated massacres. And this in spite of a scene of end of an extreme cruelty for the time, showing the brutality of the cavalry, which arrives always just at the good moment to finish some with the orphan and the young mother in the attack of the last camp independent of the Indian nation.
The kind had fallen in disuse, swept by the end of the lyricism of the Sixties that a cynical and disillusioned character played magistralement by Clint Eastwood had completed to bury by the Western spaghetti, the production was directed towards film of Science-fiction trying to reproduce the phenomenon Star Wars; at this point in time on the screens a film saga left, one duration two hours forty in version cinema and more than three hours in long version, which rehabilitated in front of the American public amazed the cause of the Indians of the large plains: Kevin Costner made a paperboard with the Box-office with Danse with the wolves .
the Sioux spoke there in Langue lakota subtitled with the screen, which the critics had prophesied like the assured failure near spectators little accustomed to read the Sous-titer S with the cinema.
the American cavalry was a bunch of hooligans illiterate and filled with commonplaces with respect to the indigenous tribes.
the portrait of the Amerindians, this lyric time on their side, did not fall either into the Hagiographie fascinated (scene of revenge following the free massacre on the herds on bisons by the Trappeur S).
The ideas conveyed in this film made it possible America to be reconciled with the Native Americans and to accommodate them in their crucible.
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