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This essay discusses the impact of the transcontinental railroad on Native American life. It focuses on the role of buffalo hunters in the federal government's policy of Indian removal. This essay, and the related Iron Horse vs. the Buffalo activity, can be used as a companion to the 1877: The Grand Army of Starvationdocumentary.

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Item Type: Article/Essay
Date: 2005

Supported by government funds, railroad building boomed after the Civil War. There were only 2,000 miles of track in 1850; by 1877 there were nearly 80,000 miles in use. Railroad owners controlled tens of thousands of employees and hundreds of millions of dollars in assets. Larger than some state governments, railroad companies were the largest,…

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Item Type: Cartoon
Date: 1873

Entrepreneur George A. Croffut published several tourist guides and manuals encouraging Americans to visit and settle in the West. His guides prominently featured the expanding railroad network as the best way to explore the vast territory beyond the Mississippi River. This text accompanied the original printing of the 1872 print "American…

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Item Type: Article/Essay
Date: 1873

In this activity, students read a series of primary source documents, including the 1872 print "American Progress," that depict the social, political and cultural conflicts between settlers and Native Americans during the 19th century. Then, working in small groups, students will consider the events from the perspective of Native Americans, and…
The "divide-and-conquer" tactics used by bosses pitted different ethnic groups against one another and native-born workers against all immigrants. It often worked out better for white workers than for Asians. Charles Crocker, one of the "Big Four" titans of Northern California industry and railroads (and chief magnate of the Pacific Union…

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Item Type: Government Document
Date: Circa 1876

Native American warriors in the 19th century attacked the various people and institutions that threatened their way of life on the Great Plains. In these speeches to federal agents during the Indian Wars of the 1860s, Indian leaders attempt to explain the sources of conflict.

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Item Type: Speech
Date: 1866

Native American warriors in the 19th century attacked the various people and institutions that threatened their way of life on the Great Plains. As these reports from various federal agents, including the Commissioner of Indian Affairs and General Custer, show, white leaders agreed with Native Americans on two points: the railroads would destroy…

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Item Type: Diary/Letter
Date: 1872

Red Cloud, an Oglala Lakota chief, led a two year war against white settlers and railroad outposts between 1866 and 1868. Red Cloud's War, sometimes called the Powder River War, took place in parts of the Wyoming and Montana territories that were the traditional homelands of Lakota, Arapaho and Cheyenne peoples. Spotted Tail, who refrained from…

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Item Type: Speech
Date: 1867

This booklet is curriculum support for the American Social History Project's 30-minute documentary 1877: The Grand Army of Starvation. The viewer's guide contains background information on issues raised by the documentary as well as additional primary source materials for use in the classroom.

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Item Type: Viewer's Guide
Date: 2007

Having heard about successful braceros, Salvador Esparza Carreño decided to enlist in the bracero program in 1945. He worked as a railroad worker, in the fields cutting asparagus, and as a camp cook. He describes his work and leisure time in and around Chicago in a camp of about 150 bracero railroad workers repairing track. He recalls…

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Item Type: Oral History
Date: 2003