New Perspectives on THE WEST
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To 1500

Events of the West (1830 - 1840)

1830 Congress passes a Pre-emption Act which grants settlers the right to purchase at $1.25 per acre 160 acres of public land which they have cultivated for at least 12 months, thereby offering "squatters" some protection against speculators who purchase lands they have already improved.
1830 Jedediah Smith and William Sublette, now partners in the successor to William Ashley's trading company, lead the first wagon train across the Rocky Mountains at South Pass and on to the Upper Wind River. The 500-mile journey through Indian country takes about six weeks, proving that even heavily loaded wagons and livestock -- the prerequisites for settlement -- can travel overland to the Pacific.
1830 Joseph Smith publishes the Book of Mormon and establishes the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
1830 The Indian Removal Act, passed with strong support from President Andrew Jackson, authorizes the federal government to negotiate treaties with eastern tribes exchanging their lands for land in the West. All costs of migration and financial aid to assist resettlement are provided by the government. Jackson forces through a treaty for removal of the Choctaw from Mississippi within the year.
1830 Alarmed at the growing number of Americans in Tejas, Mexico imposes sharp limits on further immigration.

Joseph Smith, suffering persecution in his native New York, leads his followers to Kirtland, Ohio, where they can build a new Zion.

Indian PortraitThe Nez PercÚ send a delegation to St. Louis requesting white teachers for their people, sparking a missionary movement to the Northwest.

1831 In Cherokee Nation v. State of Georgia, a dispute over Georgia's attempt to extend its jurisdiction over Cherokee territory, Chief Justice John Marshall denies Indians the right to court protection because they are not subject to the laws of the Constitution. He describes Indian tribes as "domestic dependent nations," saying that each is "a distinct political entity...capable of managing its own affairs."
1832 In Worcester v. State of Georgia, the Supreme Court rules that the federal government, not the states, has jurisdiction over Indian territories. The case concerns a missionary living among the Cherokees, Samuel A. Worcester, who was jailed for refusing to comply with a Georgia law requiring all whites residing on Indian land to swear an oath of allegiance to the state. In ruling against Georgia's actions, Chief Justice John Marshall writes that Indian tribes must be treated "as nations" by the national government and that state laws "can have no force" on their territories. Defying the court, Georgia keeps Worcester in jail, and President Andrew Jackson, when asked to correct the situation, says, "The Chief Justice has made his ruling; now let him enforce it."
1832 George Catlin begins his voyage up the Missouri, traveling more than 2,000 miles with trappers from the American Fur Company to their outpost at Fort Union, painting hundreds of portraits of Indians and Indian life along the way.
1833 At the San Felipe Convention, held in San Felipe de Austin, American settlers led by Stephen Austin vote to make Tejas a Mexican state, rather than a dependent territory, and draft a state constitution based on that of the United States. Austin himself carries the proposal to Mexico City, where President Santa Anna agrees to repeal the 1830 law limiting American immigration but refuses to grant statehood.
1833 Samuel Colt develops his revolver.
1833 The German naturalist, Prince Maximillian, and the Swiss painter, Karl Bodmer, travel up the Missouri in Catlin's footsteps, to observe and record Indian life.
1833 The Choctaw complete their forced removal to the West under army guard.
1834 Congress restructures the Bureau of Indian Affairs as the Department of Indian Affairs, expanding the agency's responsibilities to include both regulating trade with the tribes, as before, and administering the Indian lands of the West.
1834 William Sublette and Robert Campbell establish Fort Laramie on the North Platte River in Wyoming, the first permanent trading post in the region and soon to be an important stopping point for pioneers traveling the Oregon Trail.
1835 The Florida Seminoles reject forced removal to the West and begin a seven-year war of resistance under Chief Osceola.
1835 The Cherokee finally sign a treaty of removal, giving up their lands in Georgia for territory in present-day Oklahoma.

Mexican president Santa AnnaTHE TEXAS WAR FOR INDEPENDENCE (1835-1836)
Mexican President Santa Anna proclaims himself dictator and attempts to disarm the Americans in Tejas, sending troops to reclaim a cannon that had been given to the settlers for protection against Indian attacks. When the Americans resist at an engagement near Gonzales on the Guadalupe River, the Texas War for Independence begins.

1835 At a Consultation held in San Felipe de Austin, members of Stephen Austin's American colony issue a "Declaration of the People of Texas," proclaiming their independence of Santa Anna's government on the grounds that he has violated the Mexican constitution by proclaiming himself dictator.
1835 Mexican troops sent to put down the Texas rebellion are defeated at San Antonio by a tejano force led by Juan Seguin and sent home in humiliation after promising an end to the hostilities.
1836 Sam HoustonMeeting at Washington-on-the-Brazos, Texans vote a Declaration of Independence, appoint an interim government and elect Sam Houston, former governor of Tennessee, commander-in-chief of the army. Houston orders his troops to withdraw from the fortress-like Alamo in San Antonio and the fortified town of Goliad, convinced that he can defeat Santa Anna's superior numbers only by drawing his army into a chase. The headstrong defenders of the Alamo and Goliad ignore Houston's commands.
1836 Santa Anna leads a force of 5,000 troops into San Antonio to put down the Texas rebellion. On March 6, in a brutal show of force, the Mexicans overwhelm 187 Texans at the Alamo. Colonels William B. Travis, James Bowie and Davie Crockett perish in the massacre, which costs as many as 1,600 Mexican lives. A few weeks later, to the south, some 300 Texans, commanded by James W. Fannin, are defeated and captured near Goliad. Continuing his brutal policies, Santa Anna orders them all executed.
1836 Santa Anna's surrender at San JacintoSetting out in pursuit of Houston's army, Santa Anna crosses the Brazos in hopes of capturing the newly formed Texas government at Harrisburg, where it has been urging Houston to stand and fight. When the government eludes him, Santa Anna turns back to intercept Houston's forces along the San Jacinto River. But Houston, aware of his enemy's movements, launches a surprise attack along the San Jacinto in which the Mexicans are routed and Santa Anna taken captive. Negotiating from a field cot with a bullet-shattered leg, Houston secures Santa Anna's agreement to withdraw all his forces from Texas and to recognize Texan independence.
1836 On his return to Mexico, Santa Anna is driven into retirement and his agreement to recognize Texas independence is denounced. For the next ten years, Mexican troops and Texans continue to war against one another in a series of intermittent clashes along the border.
1836 In the fall, Sam Houston is elected the first President of the Republic of Texas, outpolling Stephen Austin 4-to-1, and Texans vote to seek annexation by the United States.
1836 Responding to the 1831 Nez Perce request for teachers, the Whitman party -- Dr. Marcus Whitman and his wife, Narcissa, accompanied by Narcissa's former suitor, Rev. H. H. Spalding, and his wife, Eliza -- travel what will soon be known as the Oregon Trail to arrive at the junction of the Columbia and Snake Rivers, where they establish a mission to bring Christianity to the Indians of the northwest. Narcissa and Eliza are the first white women to cross the Rocky Mountains, and their group is perhaps the first party of settlers to travel overland to the West.
1837 Congress refuses to annex Texas, bowing to abolitionist opponents who call it a "slavocracy." But President Andrew Jackson recognizes the Republic of Texas on his last day in office.
1838 Mormon founder Joseph Smith leads his persecuted followers to Missouri, to settle at a site he calls the Garden of Eden, but local opponents force the settlers to flee into Illinois where they establish Nauvoo.
1838 General Winfield Scott oversees the forced removal of the Cherokee from Georgia to the Indian Territory of the West along the "Trail of Tears."

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