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Westward Expansion (1807-1912)


The Opening of the Far West

Summary The Opening of the Far West

Mexican policy was partially responsible for the rise of conflict between the Indians and Hispanic settlers. The secularization of the missions had resulted in some ranchers turning Indians into slave laborers. Many Indian villages in California and New Mexico were the targets of frequent raids by settlers seeking domestic servants. Hispanic settlers gave little thought to riding into an Indian village and absconding with Indian women and children. Relations between the two groups grew progressively worse as time went by, and soon the Indians saw the Mexican government as the bastion of evil.

Since the Mexican army refused to aid settlers on the frontier, the territory was under populated. In 1836, New Mexico had 30,000 Hispanic settlers, but California had only 3,200, and Texas, only 4,000. These sparse, unsupported settlements soon were overwhelmed by the arrival of American settlers. To the Americans watching the development of what is now the Midwest, the Far West seemed the next wild frontier. Following stories of adventure and bountiful resources, Americans began to flow into the Southwest.

Popular pages: Westward Expansion (1807-1912)