Essay about The Myth of the Old West

2019 Words 9 Pages
Over the years, the idea of the western frontier of American history has been unjustly and falsely romanticized by the movie, novel, and television industries. People now believe the west to have been populated by gun-slinging cowboys wearing ten gallon hats who rode off on capricious, idealistic adventures. Not only is this perception of the west far from the truth, but no mention of the atrocities of Indian massacre, avarice, and ill-advised, often deceptive, government programs is even present in the average citizen’s understanding of the frontier. This misunderstanding of the west is epitomized by the statement, “Frederick Jackson Turner’s frontier thesis was as real as the myth of the west. The development of the west was, in …show more content…
The origins of the ranging business as we know it began in 1848, when Texas cattle drovers began to herd their livestock north towards Missouri, where the drovers would sell them to make a profit. (Terrell 187). According to a Dallas newspaper in 1850, “[The cattle] are to be sold for beef , or to furnish teams for California emigrants” (Terrell 187). Major markets for cattle in the North during this time period included Independence and Kansas City, Missouri.
Although the cattle ranging which was occurring in the west during the mid-eighteen hundreds was known by the government to be taking place, a large part of the business was, in fact, illegal. In fact, John Upton Terrell declares that cattle herders’, “historical significance is not to be found in beneficial contributions to the nation welfare, for they made none. Quite to the contrary, they are worthy of note for the political corruption they engendered” (Terrell 181) This stems originally from the disease which the cattle carried with them, which the state of Missouri suffered from as a result of the cattle drives. Thus, Missouri attempted to regulate the flow of livestock into its borders by passing legislation. This “cattle act” which was enacted in 1855, could not be reasonably enforced and therefore failed. The reason that it could not be enforced was because the cattle herders often bribed the justices of the peace, who were given the authority to impound
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