John G. Clark



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The story of the westward expansion of this country does not stop with the hardships encountered by travelers on the Mormon Trail, the discomforts endured by early settlers in sod houses, the bravery of the Pony Express riders, the romantic solitude of the cowboys, or the sufferings of the Indians forced to abandon their homes bleak and alien country. Much has been written about these colorful episodes and, through the courtesy of Hollywood and TV, has been brought into millions of homes in living color. But what happened to the people, including the Indians, who survived the great raid on Fort X, the bitter winters and scorching summers spent in primitive housing, the terrible loneliness and lack of communication with eastern kin? What did migrants do when they reached the end of the Mormon Trail? And did the Cherokees Trail of tears become a never-ending journey from one relocation to another? How did people develop and accommodate themselves to an environment which was itself constantly altered by an ever-changing society? In these essays we find that tragedy and joy, victory and defeat, human fulfillment and human degradation are visible in roughly equal proportions in the story of the Americanization of the West: that the goals, both realistic and unrealistic, of one group, society, or culture are frequently pursued only at the expense of other groups; and that the skeletons in the closet of American history abound to a greater extent than a nation convinced of its own virtue is willing to admit. Racism has plagued the nation since its inception, and exploitation of one group by another was sadly a part of the Western frontier. However, there was a freshness and vigor in the history of the West. Young railroads continued to grow, linking productive farms with brawling cities. New businesses and new political parties emerged, all contributing to the growth of the region that Stephen A. Douglas called the adhesive of the Union. This is a fascinating collection that serves to illuminate both the tragedies and accomplishments of the westward movement. Description John G. Clark (1932-2000) was professor of environmental studies and history at the University of Kansas for 34 years until his retirement in 1997. His publications include The Political Economy of World Energy: A Twentieth Century Perspective. April Petillo is assistant professor of American ethnic studies and an affiliated faculty member in the Department of Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies at Kansas State University. She specializes in Native American and Indigenous studies, settler and slavery logics, and comparative ethnic studies. With a New Foreword by April Petillo. This Kansas Open Books title is funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Humanities Open Book Program.



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University Press of Kansas


x, 308 pp.


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© 1971, 2021 by the University Press of Kansas All rights reserved The text of this book is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution- NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Public License.

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Open Access

The Frontier Challenge: Responses to the Trans-Mississippi West