Sunday, 31 January 2016

Presentation- Attitudes towards American Indians in Little House on the Prairie

Chapter 23- Indian War Cry

Analysis of the family's reaction to war cry and the large gathering of Indians and Charles Ingalls reaction to Soldat du Chene

Beginning of chapter:
Family tense about the Indians

The war cry:
Terrifies family- feel safe once the Natives leave

Osage people:
Appearance of the Osage people
How would Laura know these details when writing the book?

Amy Fatzinger's PhD dissertation piece: "Indians in the House": Revisiting American Indians in Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House Books:
Amy Fatzingers PhD dissertation piece
Reasoning for Laura's view on the Osage people
How the narrative progresses throughout the book

Pa and Soldat du Chene "Oak Soldier" (as stated by Fatzinger):
Surprising for the family- Indians willing to help them
Peaceful and friendly relations between natives and settlers
Pa's closing statement

Conclusion and closing questions for the group to discuss

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Diary of Patrick Breen

Patrick Breen was born in Ireland and made the journey to the USA in 1828. In 1846, Patrick and his wife made the decision to move their seven children from Iowa to California.

The diary begins on November 20th 1846 and is describing the snowy conditions the family faced at the start of their travels, with "snow so deep we were unable to find the road". This illustrates the challenges people migrating to the west would have faced on their long journey.

Throughout the diary, Patrick describes various different weathers, the snowy and harsh conditions at the start of the diary extract, but also more pleasant conditions later on in the passage, such as on the 20th February 1847. Although there were some days when the family were able to make good progress due to decent weather, it is clear that the journey was long and often challenging especially with harsh weather in the winter months.

The extract does not end wth Patrick telling the reader that they had arrived in California so we are unsure of exactly how long the journey took, but we do know from the introduction at the start that the whole family survived the journey, a situation that probably was not lemon due to the length of the journey and the weather conditions faced by the travelers.

Journal of William Sturgis

William F. Sturgis
William Sturgis was born in 1782 and was a Boston merchant. At the age of seventeen he sailed to the North West Coast. This is an entry from the Journal of William Sturgis, where he accounts his visit to a North West Coast Indian Village, during the late Eighteenth Century and records his experience whilst being among the Natives. 

Within the first paragraph, there is clear indication that the Indians were not trusted by the American settlers. Sturgis states that when one of his fellow colleagues Mr Brumstead went to the village, a Native, named Altatsee, ‘agreed to stay on board the ship as a hostage’, for Mr Bumstead’s returning ‘safe to the Ship.’ Although Mr Brumstead was safely returned, in order for Sturgis to go visit also, Altatsee, left ‘his oldest son on board as a hostage’ for Sturgis’s ‘safe appearance’. Through the use of the word ‘hostage’, Sturgis implies that there is a threat. By keeping a Native hostage Sturgis suggests that this was the only way in which his safety was guaranteed. However, the Indians voluntary choice to be hostages, demonstrates there nonthreatening nature. In addition to this, there ‘safe’ return suggests that the settlers would have been harmed had they not kept a ‘hostage’. Overall, this demonstrates the settler’s apprehensive nature when they were near Indians. Furthermore, Sturgis’s need to sleep with his ‘cutlass’ on and his ‘pistol’ by his side, indicates his anxiousness of sleeping in a village full of Indians.

Contrary to the Settlers views, the Indians showed hospitality and welcomed the ‘white people’. The Indians did not want the ‘white people’ to be ‘afraid’, but wanted them to trust one another. Sturgis states that, Altatsee assured him that no-harm would have come to him, had Skittlekitts not been left in his room ‘aboard the vessel’. He goes on further to say that no-one would have ‘talked bad’ to him, as the Indians ‘treated all white people as brothers’. Although the Native’s lands were stolen, Sturgi’s visit to a Native American village indicates that they were welcoming people.

Although hospitable, the Indians did not have much and were deprived of necessities which the Americans settlers would have classed as inadequate. This is evident through the ‘astonishment’ Sturgis felt when entering a house which ‘beheld about forty people’. He had expected only ‘six or eight people’, this indicated how small the house must have been, and how little space the Natives had. In relation to this the Indians did not have good living conditions, Sturgis claims that when he went to sleep, they spread him ‘some blue cloth on the floor’ as ‘they didn’t have a lot and had to sleep on the floor’. Deprived of items which most people believe are essential, the Indians made do with what they had. An example of this would be ‘a kind of broth’ they made him, which the Natives thought was a ‘rich composition’, however Sturgis ‘did not relish it quite so well’. The Natives found a richness in the simplest of things. Altatsee showed Sturgis his ‘riches’, which consisted of ‘several garments made of the wool of the Mountain Sheep and marked in spots with Sea Otter's fur… An ornament for the waist made of leather, with several hundred of the small hooves on it that belong to the Deers' feet… a number of beautiful Ermine Skins… and a large silver spoon which he told me was a present from Captain Roberts.’ The Indians did not possess much in terms of gold and silver, however the items they did have, they considered valuable.

The Indians were overall simple people who were not considered smart or well informed on civilisation. Sturgis calls the Indians, ‘utterly ignorant’, as they did not know the nature of the disease, which had claimed one of their own. By labelling them as ‘utterly ignorant’, Sturgis implies that he is superior to them and more knowledgeable, however most diseases that the Indians contracted came from Europe. He then goes onto say that they were ‘very thankful’ for his help. The Indians gratitude towards him, demonstrated their kind nature.

Martha S. Read

Martha Read's journey to the 'west' started in Chicago and culminated in Oregon, even though the destination was intended to be California. This history was selected due to the fact it it looks at how difficult it was for Americans to actually plan where to go and actually get there. The distance from Chicago to Oregon is over 2000 miles, and according to Google Maps; it would take 624 hours to reach Oregon's state border by walking. Which is just over 26 days of continuous walking. It took Read 7 months to reach Oregon from Illinois. Which is a far longer time than Google Maps suggests. During the 1800's however, I would say 7 months is the norm for this period due to the more challenging terrain facing them, not the roads we have today.

Setting off in April 1852, Read claimed that God would guide her to California. Read, like many others during this period found short term accommodation during their journey. Read using an abandoned fort in Wyoming. The previous users of the fort are unknown, however Read mentions that it has been deserted for 3 years, with plenty of facilities to cook food and sleep. This was different to others going westward during this period, who had to build their own accommodation from scratch. Eventually in November 1852, Martha Read got to a destination. Not California as she had intended, but Oregon City. She mentions the rapid development of her new neighbourhood as well. Claiming that schools will be opened in another summer, and that more homes are being built around them. However the rurality of the area is still noticeable, as Read states that she has 3 or 4 neighbours within half a mile, not in a suburb style town. Read says that it is not how she pictured the area to be, perhaps not knowing how far from California she was, she talks about the heavy rains and the unsuitable landscape with mountains and hills surrounding the area.

She finishes the second letter saying that she wants her sister to decide 'immediately' whether or not to move out to Oregon with her. Maybe the fact she was under the impression that more people would take the land surrounding where Martha settled. Again another example of Americans moving westward and finding it not be how it was shown to be, but still staying.

Sunday, 24 January 2016

Diary extract from black pioneer, Alvin Coffey

Alvin Coffey

Alvin Coffey documented his first trip to California in which he played a vital role in an eventful ox-team journey across the Plains in 1849. Coffey was a slave during this trip and saw it as an amazing opportunity to earn enough money to buy freedom for himself and his family back East. Unfortunately his owner took the money that Coffey earned, but he made the trip again in 1854 with a different owner and was able to save seven thousand dollars which he used to buy his freedom as well as his family's.

In his account of his first trip across the Plains with the large amount of cattle, he recalls an ox that became extremely unwell and he was the only one brave enough to kill the animal and put it out of its misery. "I said, 'Let us go out and kill the ox for it is too bad to hear him bawl'. The wolves were eating him alive. None would go with me, so I got two double-barreled shot-guns which were loaded". This shows that Coffey took his job very seriously and cared for the animals he was transporting across the country. Up until this moment, the account of his journey was rather uneventful. He did not state whether or not he experienced segregation and racism from the other men on the trip but it is likely that some form of segregation or racism occurred as it was normal for that time. It's interesting that Alvin is black as it is a known fact that cow boys were mainly African American or Latino and were very different to the Hollywood version of a cowboy we all know from the western movies and TV shows.

Coffey had worked in the Shasta Mines during his sec
ond journey in California, from 1854 to 1857, which is how he earned his freedom money. Because of his huge success in the West, his family prospered in this area and his children married into old Californian families. He is remembered by his relatives today and towards the end of his life in 1902, he became the primer mover in the organisation of the Home for the Aged and Infirm, located near Beulah, California, giving his total income to its establishment and support. He truly was a pioneer during the frontier period and overcame all obstacles, especially those placed on him by society due to the colour of skin.

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

American Architecture

The image I have chosen is an architectural drawing of a theatre in Chicago during the 1930s. Theatres during this period were extremely popular as they were one of the key forms of entertainment for the American people. These theatres were constructed as iconic buildings which brought culture to cities all across nation. America has always been a country where big is seen as better, the buildings that architectures had created were of grand design, this relates to Adams theory of the American Dream where the lives of individuals could be improved through technological advancements. American citizens could live happier and richer lives due to more modern forms of entertainment and more opportunities being created. The theatres and other buildings developed improved infrastructure and allowed American citizens to have a sense of national pride. It would also give America hope as new inventions and new technologies would continue to be introduced.

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

New York World's Fair:'The World of Tomorrow'

Poster image for:
New York World's Fair, 1939
In late April 1939, the New York World’s Fair opened, presenting, ‘The World of Tomorrow’. The 1939 Fair perfectly demonstrates James Truslow Adam’s dream of ‘a better, richer and happier life,’ as it celebrated the ‘technological innovation and advances in science and medicine.’ In addition to this, the Fair was planned to be an ‘Everyman’s Fair’, demonstrating an improvement ‘of all the factors contributing to human welfare.’ Due to the Great Depression in 1929, the later years faced an economic crisis. However, through Adam’s defining the American Dream and other such things as the New York World’s Fair, many citizens were given a glimmer of hope that a better future awaited for them and that America would help them to attain it. This highlights Adam’s and Cullen's American Dream, in which every citizen has a chance to contribute and thrive.Both sources demonstrate how the American Dream can be achieved through progression.

Similarities and differences between primary source material and Adams and Cullen

(Begin page no. 288) Chapter XIX- California As I Saw It: First-Person Narratives of California's Early Years, 1849-1900

In this extract, it mainly focuses on many of the topics Adams and Cullen focused on, such as the "American Dream" and the idea of the US developing into something bigger and better. The first line from states "may look forward to time when litigation and uncertainty on the subject, shall cease, and consequent happiness and thrifty progress of the people of California ensure". Both Cullen and Adams mention when many migrated west for a better start. Adams mentions that the term "bigger and better" became rooted in the nation during the period 1830 to 1850 when "the nation was growing like a weed". Cullen draws on home ownership being an essential element of the American dream and uses the example of the Homestead Act of 1862. Does owning land and prospering in this land determine success? In this extract from the primary source, it is thought so. The author states
"where we had traveled the previous fall without seeing a human habitation, was now the abode of civilized man". To be civilized, is to inhabit land and prosper there, hence the American dream.

The extract draws upon the settlers facing many challenges. It speaks of a constant flux in events, going from good to bad, such as how fast the buildings were being built in the city of Sacramento and then how quickly this declined. It also speaks of floods and natural disasters that occurred that affected the settlers. But then it goes on to say that an "immense business" in mining was flourishing and that"Aladdin could not have been more surprised at the power of his wonderful lamp, than I was at the mighty change". Adams stated that"It was the West that was building up Eastern manufacturing and Eastern fortunes, and it was the West that was dominating the American mind and outlook". Businesses were prospering in the West due to the new abundance of raw materials and land available to the settlers. Adams and Cullen talk of the American dream in a rather cynical way as they discuss whether or not the dream is something that is tangible, something that can be accomplished. Whereas in this extract, the author is commenting on how these individuals have prospered and have achieved something similar to the american dream as they are now considered civilized men.


According to both Adams and Cullen, the future will hold better things for all. Cullen writes "the American dream of a better, richer, and happier life for all our citizens of every rank" implying that even for slaves, the future will be better and brighter. Adams agrees with Cullen by saying everyone shared "hatred of banks, and the steady demand for more democracy". However, we know from our previous experience of the topic of slavery, that this was not the case. Many of the slaves who were liberated would later discover that they were not equipped for the real world. In some cases life outside of slavery was worse for them as they did not have the necessary skills to thrive. Therefore, many slaves would disagree with Cullen and Adams as they may suggest that the future did not hold brighter things for them, in fact it was often worse.

Smoking during the early 1900s

The image I have selected is an advertisement for smoking from 1908. Smoking became a huge fad in the late 19th century in the United States. It became something that the average American had to do to be seen as 'cool'. Adam's insinuates that America grew from inhibiting a culture. As the want for the next, newest, biggest, most popular thing swept American minds ,the values born out of the pioneer culture of the first migrants appeared to whither. This contradicts Adams' view in regard to cigarette's, which history can be traced to when quantity was now growing over the quality and moving into the new era or industrialisation. As well as tobacco being a key example of a product that was cheap to produce due to the slave labour and a cheap workforce. This meant that there was a higher supply to outstretch demand, leading to smoking becoming a nationwide phenomenon. Something which won't be attributed to an inherited culture as Adams advocates.

Saturday, 16 January 2016

This Blog is for Denise's Group in AM1212. We meet on Wednesday at 10.00 in my office.

Post a link to an example of primary source material from the American Memory site at and analyse it with explicit reference to Cullen and Adams. See Week 1's page on the LN for more information.