Conflict and Conquest in the American West

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Duration 01:08:54

College of the Holy Cross

Edward O’Donnell is a professor of history at College of the Holy Cross. He is the author of several books, including Henry George and the Crisis of Inequality: Progress and Poverty in the Gilded Age. He frequently contributes op-eds to publications like Newsweek and The Huffington Post, and has been featured on PBS, the History Channel, the Discovery Channel, and C-SPAN. O’Donnell also has curated several major museum exhibits on American history and appeared in several historical documentaries. He currently hosts a history podcast, “In the Past Lane.”




Beginning in the 1840s, settlers spurred on by enthusiastic reports of open land and the Homestead Act began pouring into the trans-Mississippi West. They established millions of farms and created thriving railroad, ranching and mining industries. However, these achievements came at the expense of the hundreds of thousands of Native Americans who resisted for a time, but eventually succumbed to the Army and life on reservations. This presentation examines the ideas, policies and events that shaped the conquest of the West. Professor O’Donnell will also look at the ways in which our image of the West shaped, and continues to shape, the American imagination and self-image.



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Annice Gregerson

Conflict and Conquest

In brief, this presentation was very informative, had good slides and data. But it could benefit from a better balance away from so much on popular culture, to more on the historical policy of the U.S. to Remove Indigenous from their homeland to give early European settlers and North Easterners the chance to settle the West. Manifest Destiny did play a big role. But, there was also something known as the Doctrine of Discovery (from the 15th Century Vatican) which seems to have been an influence on Chief Justice John Marshall rulings in the U.S. Supreme Court to elevate European explorers as “Discoverers” while regarding Indigenous, as “Occupiers” of the land. This weakened the status of Indigenous and gave the U.S. Government policy-makers even more leeway to be less tolerant of Native tribal interests.
All together, I appreciated what was incorporated in this class, thanks to Ed T. O’Donnell.

1 year ago
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