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America’s Western Frontier

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America’s Western Frontier

The American Old West compromises the history, myths, legends, stories, beliefs, and cultural meanings that collected around the Western United States in the 1800’s. Most often the term refers to the late 19th century, between 1865 to 1900, post-Civil war time period. Terms Old West and Wild West relate to life beyond the western frontier. The Wild West appears as a simple romanticized perception of the actual Old West identity, which forms numerous characters, lifestyles and based idea’s upon its self. Historians over the years have investigated the mythical perception of the Wild West, and it’s relation and difference to the American Old West. Comparing and contrasting the two, gives insight to the actual western genre that appears more factional.

While the Eastern United states was the beginning to experience the Second Industrial Revolution around 1871, the western frontier was beginning to fill with immigrants and American folk. In the early days of the Wild West, a great deal of land was in the public domain, open both to livestock and to homesteading. The idea of the Wild West was thought to be filled with mythical legends along with fictional characters, provoking the perception of the Wild West towards the factional Old West to be a simple misunderstanding. Exaggeration of realistic characters such as Wild Buffalo Bill and Calamity Jane are two villains who venture from town to town stealing and stirring up -mythical relations from the Wild West in which in Old West documentation both Wild Buffalo Bill and Calamity Jane were just a married couple who proposed to live more of vagabond life, opposed to one of crime. Another example from the Wild West romanticized perception leans towards the symbolic heroic character of the cowboy. The stereotype of the heroic white cowboy is far from true, however. The first cowboys were Spanish vaqueros, who had introduced cattle to Mexico centuries earlier. Black cowboys also rode the range. Furthermore, the life of the cowboy was far from glamorous, involving long, hard hours of labor, poor living conditions, and economic hardship. Non-whites of the Wild West were Native American Indians who were often considered a threat to the western society and cause nothing but problems. Indians stood as figures of the Wild West for being apart of the dusty environment and landscaping the West with a constant feeling of western settlers of preparation to stand on guard towards the Native Americans. These romanticized perceptions of the Wild West differ from the Old West, due to the overwhelmed entertainment it provides to society.

The Old West is perhaps the second most written about subject in American History. The exploration and exploitation of that area generally west of the Mississippi, truly makes for great human

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