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History of the Western Frontier

The western frontier was a newly acquired asset with unlimited potential for the United States. Rich with mineral resources, fertile land, and overall open space, the frontier was to be prosperous indefinitely, but it was first necessary to determine which action would be initiated. Agriculture was the only true necessity for survival, and with the land, large farms could be created to produce food for the nation. For this reason, farmers and their agricultural agenda should have had the precedence in setting up the western frontier.

During the time period between 1840-1890, immigrants were crowding into our nation, causing a population boom, especially in urban areas. Our nation was growing, the industry was improving, and transportation, especially through railroads, was progressing rapidly. Following the Civil War, many settlers, including immigrants and freedmen, were moving west to begin a new life farming. But, the United States was wastefully granting the railroad companies fertile lands that were more suitable for agriculture.

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With the arrival of thousands of immigrants each year into the United States, food was obviously a necessity for the nation. With all the land for which to cultivate in the west, farming was a sensible way to begin setting up the frontier. The government should have allowed farmers to choose their land on which to farm, and then support the nation with a steady food supply. The government could have still given out free land, like they did, as long as the farmers would supply the nation with a partial amount of their crops. In this way, if the farmers were allowed to choose their land first, the production of food would have been more efficient and prosperous, and the nation would have gained more profit.

With the profit gained from such a prosperous agricultural region, the government could have then funded other areas of westward expansion, such as railroad construction. Once the boundaries were created and farms were stable, the railroads could have then been built through the less fertile lands, such as the deserts in the Southwest.

This method would have been logical, and in this way, it would have also been easy to transport the goods to the East for consumption. The railroads would run around and between the farms, instead of the farms being created around a railroad. With a railroad built around the already established farmlands, the nation would have experienced more profit.

By allowing farmers the initial opportunity to set up the frontier, it would have given more people a chance to establish a new lifestyle. In the South, the freedmen had their freedom but had nothing to do with it. Many moved north to work in factories, and some stayed in the South and farmed, but allowing them to begin our agricultural integration of the west would have been the most constructive way of giving them work. If freedmen were given land in the west, they could have started a successful life farming while providing our country with the supplies they needed. Some form of an act or agreement would have done this idea justice, and granted the freedmen land in the west, as long as they cultivated it. This method would have solved an economic as well as a social dilemma in the nation.

Some may believe that other methods should have been enacted in setting up the western frontier, but by further examination, they appear inferior to agriculture. Mining did not inhabit the same areas as farming, so essentially it could have been initiated before it, but it would not have provided the nation with the food that was needed.

Ranching and allowing cattle to roam free across the fertile lands would have been wasting the resources and, overall, prosperous harvesting. Allowing the Native Americans to spread themselves out across the expansive land also would be a waste, because of the potential for minerals and farming that the Natives did not have the technology to take advantage of. Ultimately, farming was the best way to begin to settle the western frontier.

The western frontier had the potential to become something beneficial and prosperous to the United States. If managed more carefully and logically, the west could have produced even more than it did during that time period. By giving railroads the initial opportunity, the U.S. failed to take advantage of the raw power it had, in the form of the West. Farmers and their agricultural agenda should have had the precedence in setting up the western frontier.

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History of the Western Frontier. (2021, Feb 14). Retrieved June 14, 2021, from