Other Free Encyclopedias » 21st Century Webster's Family Encyclopedia » 21st Century Webster's Family Encyclopedia - Pimento to Popcorn

Pioneer life in America

settlers land settlement american

Pioneer life in America, way of life characteristic of the people who first settled the western reaches of the continental United States. Pioneer life in America has two aspects. It is the story of migration and settlement. It is also an important part of American identity, one of the fundamental images Americans have of themselves, and an important part of the development of the country's values and customs.

In one sense, the pioneering life was characteristic of America from the beginning. The country's original settlers faced the same challenges, risks, and opportunities the pioneers later faced. But there are at least two important differences. America's original settlers were colonists and, to one degree or another, most came to America seeking refuge from Europe. By contrast, the pioneers were Americans or inspired by the optimism of a new nation. They were taking possession of a continent driven by the desire to own their own land, to make real the American promises of individual liberty and unlimited opportunity.

Pioneer life developed in two great migrations between 1760 and 1850. The first extended American settlement to the Mississippi Valley. It lasted from the late 1700s to the early 1800s and took in areas of what are now the states of Kentucky, Tennessee, Ohio, and Illinois. The second migration, which continued into the 1850s, settled California, the Northwest, the Southwest and, eventually, the Great Plains. These migrations coincided with and were often triggered by political events, among them, the Louisiana Purchase, the Mexican-American War, and the acquisition of Oregon. The Gold Rush of 1848 was a powerful motivating force in the settlement of California. Settlement was also encouraged by generous federal land grant programs.

The focus of the first migration was the land beyond the Appalachian Mountains. The Appalachian barrier was breached by settlers using the Cumberland Gap and by trappers and frontiersmen who opened the Wilderness Road. In New York State, settlers followed the Mohawk Trail west and, as settlement progressed, steamboats carried settlers on the Ohio and Mississippi rivers beginning in 1811. The Erie Canal, opened in 1825, also made it easier for settlers to get to new lands.

The usual patterns of these migrations began with the trailblazing of frontiersmen, fur trappers, or explorers, men like Daniel Boone or Lewis and Clark. They were followed by the first wave of settlers, principally small farmers, who cleared the land. These settlers would often move on to virgin land and their places were taken by a second wave of settlers who established more permanent communities and, eventually, towns. The process was completed when towns were connected by roads, the post, and, above all, by the railroads. Upon arrival in a particular area, settlers might take possession of the land by purchase from a private company or from a federal land agent, or else by squatting.

The second great migration was undertaken by wagon trains called prairie schooners, larger versions of the older Conestoga wagons. A wagon train heading west would start in the spring in time to pass the Rocky Mountains before winter set in. Several known trails were followed, among them the Oregon Trail across the Great Plains, the South Pass across the Rockies to California, the Santa Fe Trail to the Southwest, and the Old Spanish Trail to Los Angeles. It was a difficult and dangerous journey, hard on animals and people alike. Indians were a constant threat, especially as settlers began to clear and farm the Great Plains. Both migrations were marked by frequent bloody episodes between settlers and Native Americans and by warfare that eventually decimated the latter. Blacks also participated in the settlement of the west. Freed or escaped slaves helped settle the Northwest Territories comprising the states of Ohio, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, parts of Minnesota, and later Oregon. Slavery was forbidden in the Northwest Territory and black pioneers had an opportunity to begin new lives in those frontier regions.

The pioneers lived a rough, dangerous, and demanding life. The men had to be farmers, hunters, trappers, skilled carpenters, and skillful with weapons, especially the rifle. The women did much heavy farm work, raised and cared for the children, cooked, spun yarn, and wove cloth. There were no doctors and medical care had to be improvised. A serious illness or injury often meant death and epidemics were devastating. The pioneer diet was simple, consisting primarily of corn and game. Corn was preferred because it could be easily preserved and salt was used to preserve meat. Eventually, as conditions improved, so did diet, clothing, and the availability of other essentials. Pioneers built their own homes (often helping one another in the hard work), grew and hunted their own food, made their own yarn and cloth, bullets, candles, medicines, shoes, and other necessities. Their way of life fostered values of independence and self-reliance that were reinforced by religion and a strong sense of community. The struggles, hardships, and experiences of the first settlers continued to influence the later community. Values and attitudes were transmitted through stories that have become an essential part of American self awareness from the Leatherstocking novels of James Fennimore Cooper to the movies of John Ford.

Pipal [next] [back] Pion

User Comments

Your email address will be altered so spam harvesting bots can't read it easily.
Hide my email completely instead?

Cancel or

Vote down Vote up

over 3 years ago

It was cool. it helped me with my report. (:

Vote down Vote up

6 months ago

Really helpful

Vote down Vote up

over 1 year ago

Very helpful for my paragraph about the difference of life in the east and west for pioneers!

Vote down Vote up

over 1 year ago

thanks for the facts

Vote down Vote up

7 months ago

wow great site

Vote down Vote up

almost 2 years ago

hey

Vote down Vote up

over 1 year ago

This is a bugged website that gave my laptop a virus so i'm not coming back for any information, but this has good facts

Vote down Vote up

over 3 years ago

This tucking website fucks for information

Vote down Vote up

7 months ago

thanks for info

Vote down Vote up

over 1 year ago

love this

Vote down Vote up

almost 2 years ago

can you list some more info on pioneers who also specialized in traveling medicine? It'd be more helpful to readers trying to find specific info on how they handled sickness and injuries.

Vote down Vote up

over 1 year ago

has lots of good facts about pioneers to tell my class

Vote down Vote up

over 1 year ago

hi i like chicken

Vote down Vote up

over 4 years ago

what GROUPS moved west?

Vote down Vote up

over 1 year ago

i got a filling

Vote down Vote up

over 3 years ago

Meow

Vote down Vote up

almost 2 years ago

where is all the infomation

Vote down Vote up

over 3 years ago

what is the name of a famous pioneer? tell me now i need it for school

Vote down Vote up

over 3 years ago

Wdjhdhierhufeirfierutijirufirufihrieggirufirhtiruuiifihievhieiefhviefhvieqrhfierhfierhfierhfifiifhr

Vote down Vote up

4 months ago

this helped me a lot and i passed my state book this is a great website but why do yous want to know about my body creeps.

Vote down Vote up

5 months ago

I liked it, but there was no headings. Or like, titles. So, I died.

Vote down Vote up

over 2 years ago

website sucks

Vote down Vote up

9 months ago

Oh man this website stopped me from cutting, I love memes

Vote down Vote up

about 3 years ago

used this on a paper and got a zero for wrong info.. then got grounded for two weeks for bad grades!! fucks this website and its creators!!!!

Vote down Vote up

10 months ago

hey boo

Vote down Vote up

over 3 years ago

hi my name is bob i love chicken

Vote down Vote up

over 1 year ago

i like big butts and I cant denie cuz the other boys don't fly when a girl walks in with an ittie bitie waste and a round thang in your face you get pooped on

Vote down Vote up

over 1 year ago

i got an f

Vote down Vote up

almost 3 years ago

kk

Vote down Vote up

7 months ago

I am doing a project on pioneers.

Vote down Vote up

7 months ago

How are Scientists related to the pioneers of 1800s.

Vote down Vote up

8 months ago

nice work but it could have you know info and stuff like totaly man, JUST CRUSING









Vote down Vote up

over 1 year ago

faaart

Vote down Vote up

over 1 year ago

I LIKE CHICKEN!!!! i really want to become a blob because I graduated from being a pizza. I also want to be butter. Please help me make my wishes come true and i might give money! Oops I wet myself... I don`t care! Eat chicken PEOPLE!!My name is BOP, by the way.

Vote down Vote up

11 months ago

I hate myself for saying this but i dont care that you broke your elbow

Vote down Vote up

almost 2 years ago

this go me bad grade on my report bad

Vote down Vote up

almost 2 years ago

i got an f from this website no my grades went down and i am in big trouble

Vote down Vote up

over 1 year ago

hello you people drive me cray-cray. you are all weird os. fart people in the house

Vote down Vote up

almost 2 years ago

I got grounded so i couldn't update HappyWheels.

Vote down Vote up

over 1 year ago

jahspdihpHFPHU[h[hgpoahpdojhfsdhfpohsdnajnahfohf[oihwpiu

Vote down Vote up

over 1 year ago

urifhwipeurqfhcpiweurhfiuwqbfvhb w ufhoeirfglkedghiweu rgfi

Vote down Vote up

over 1 year ago

i cant get call of duty 3 ad

Vote down Vote up

7 months ago

WAKE ME UP! (WAKE ME UP INSIIIIDE) I CAN'T WAKE UP (WAKE ME UP INSIIIDE) ((SAVVVEE MEEE!!)))

Vote down Vote up

4 months ago

This sucks

;)

Vote down Vote up

4 months ago

This Page is the worst to get info

Vote down Vote up

5 months ago

welcome to wedys

Vote down Vote up

6 months ago

qgweuwgbefuyegwyuFIHBD ˚÷GHCD]EGJKHFNMKDLESPDOUFNKML, 68/VCXRFTGHYJK';.,;LKJHGFDSASWDERTYUIOLP;LKJHGFSAazsdui/hgfdsaASDKERI';LKUYTR1`2890- ]P[OIYTRESDFKIL;LKJHGFDSQSDFILO;'/L.KGFRDSASDFGHJKL;ASDFGHJKLKRESWAdfghj/;lkjhgfdsadtyuip;;ouytazsxjmk,ladsaazdfgyuiklop;laASXDCKJTEWSKLKJHSXDNJMKLASDFGHKKJHGDSAasdf,ldfglKJFG;AT;IUEGH.