American Stories: Living American History, Volume II: From by Jason Ripper

By Jason Ripper

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People’s intentions were not necessarily the problem. Pressure for land and all that the land held was, as always, the problem. Immigration into the United States swelled an already-expanding population. Most white people fundamentally believed that Native Americans did not either need or deserve so much land. S. economy relied on creating new markets and exploiting new resources, and there was gold throughout the northern plains, especially in the Black Hills of the Dakotas and in Montana. S. citizens or policy makers honored the Fort Laramie Treaty, so it became the task of the military to force Native American peoples to accept every treaty infringement that occurred.

An uncanny knack for path finding and horse riding landed young Bill Cody his first paying job in the saddle as a messenger for a local freight service run by the same men who soon opened the short-lived Pony Express. Though only fourteen when the Pony Express started its first runs in 1860, Cody had already impressed his bosses enough that they gave the lad his own route. The western novelist and historian Larry McMurtry points out that the Pony Express could not have lasted long, even with riders like Cody, who made at least one circuit of more than 300 miles in only a few days.

The popular image of a woman, however, included neither rifles nor farming, but rather demure domesticity: gentle humor, plenty of baking flour, an apron, and an uncomplaining endurance. Phoebe Ann Moses was not born in the far West. However, as Annie Oakley, she became one of the most famous Americans of her day, part of a Western tableau cooked up by William Cody’s imagination and her ability to remain ladylike while enthralling audiences as one of the best rifle shots on the planet. She was born in rural Ohio in 1860.

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