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1870-1900: Closing of the Frontier

Chinese Butcher and Grocery Shop, Chinatown, S.F. During the final decades of 19th century, a transcontinental railroad was built. For the first time, the east and west coasts of the United States were connected. This opened the West to the rest of the country and, in the words of Frederick Turner, effectively "closed the frontier": the vast continent no longer seemed limitless. Native Americans felt the impact of the increasing numbers of European Americans, who attempted to remove them from their tribal lands and assimilate them into Western culture. Chinese citizens also faced daily prejudice, resulting in The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, which closed the United States to further Chinese immigration. The new railroad made travel faster and safer, and westward expansion brought more and more people. As open range became settled, the emerging conservation movement advocated for laws and restrictions to protect the natural wonders and beauty that remained.


Topics:

Chinese Exclusion Act
The Transcontinental Railroad
Native Americans and Contact
Preservation of the West
The Letters of John MuirNew!
Everyday Life and People