Describe the problems of living in a newly set up town in the west
In the 19th century, the Americans west was expanding, there were new towns being established across the frontier. In this essay, I am going to discuss the main problems with these towns in the west.
One of the problems was the layout of towns, the west was a vast area, being settled bit by bit, with no overall plan. This meant that the area where new towns were being built was huge but had little organisation. There were little community bonds, this was also because people didn’t trust one another like others do today, the houses were scattered everywhere and anywhere, this attracted many criminals because they wouldn’t have to be close to, too many people, people felt a greater sense of freedom from this set up, many criminals went there to escape.
Another problem was the lack of communication, where that when people sent messages it would take too long for the message to finally get to the recipient and terrible circumstances could concur, at this time the only way of communicating was to send another person on a horse to send the message but there were many consequences of what could happen to the letters such as they might not get there for ages over their due date and also they might not get there at all but there was no other way of communicating because the telegram or mobile phones were not invented.
There was also a problem with the travel which was very slow and unreliable. The railroads were not built until the 1860s but the main transports towns used were the stage coaches, freight wagons and the mail coaches. There were many reasons why they wanted to build the railroads these were; railroads allow better and faster communication, railroads provided jobs on the plains, railroads allowed quick and easy trade with the east.
No law and order was a big problem in the West during this time because the West was dominated by a primitive code of honour: it was your responsibility to settle things for yourself. Most westerners carried guns, if you shot a man in self-defence then you had not broken the law, as long as the other man was armed. This attitude lay behind the willingness of big business cattle barons and railroad owners to resort to violence. The west was a vast area and transport was very slow. This made it very difficult to enforce law and order, but this was a problem because there were many potential sources of conflict between the different ethnic groups; blacks, Chinese, Europeans, Indians, Mexicans and settlers from the Eastern USA.
A big problem was also government; the US government was based in Washington. Towns in the West became impatient waiting for the government to make decisions so they took the law into their own hands, this is when people in the American West started to abuse the justice system which led to further problems.
The violence of the West was a huge problem because there was no efficient police force in the American West. This meant that when violence broke out there was no one to settle it so people settled it for themselves. Almost every man in the West carried a gun. This meant that petty squabble could become much worse with no one to stop these men from using them, for example the man in the hotel when he was sleeping he was snoring, so the man next door came in and shot him. There were deaths because of little petty things like that. Westerners said
“God didn’t make people equal, colonel colt did.”
The colt 45, invented by the colonel was a favourite in the west. It gave men a sense of confidence and of being in charge however with all these people feeling like this, these arguments were frequent.
Morality was also a problem this was because the American west towns became sleazy places. Salons, gambling houses and brothels were the main business in towns. This added to the violence because there would be people drunk, they had lost money on bets etc which sparked off more and more rows.