Plan asking: what opportunities did the American

Plan of Investigation:This is an interesting topic because as a woman in the 21st century learning about female history is key for the development of every woman’s self as well as the key to history in the United States. In 2017 after the President of America was inaugurated, a women’s march took place the following day. Because of those events in 2017 women’s history has become important to every woman, and to every girl. As a result that brings American women back to the beginning of the westward expansion, leaving them asking: what opportunities did the American West offer women that they may not have had back East? In order to answer this question, one has to understand what drove Americans to the west, what women did during the gold rush and how women contributed to the westward expansion. To find this information a variety of resources will be used; diaries (Mollie: the journal of Mollie Dorsey Sanford in Nebraska and Colorado Territories, 1857-1866.), letters (from women during the time), articles, historians, and interviews. In order to fully understand the woman’s role during the westward expansion one must examine the events in different perspectives eg; men, women of color and women from the east. This investigation will only cover the women’s role during the westward expansion from the years 1803 to the years 1865. However it will exclude women history past the end of the westward expansion, this will also exclude women such as Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and more women that came after 1840’s. Summary of Investigation:President Thomas Jefferson purchased region from Louisiana in 1803 for $15 million (History). Thereupon Americans began to move westward, by 1840, 7 million moved towards the west, nearly 40% of the nation’s population lived in the trans-Appalachian west (History). What drove these pioneers and their families to the west was the opportunity to be landowners (CampSIlos). Despite conventional chores; cleaning dishes, clothes, sewing, taking care of children; women often owned inns, wrote novels and during the California gold rush women made as much or more money than miners (The Role of Women in Westward Expansion). Women often utilized the legal system to their advantage to become landowners. Most women migrated towards the west to escape English common law. In British common law, when women married they became dead in the eyes of the legal system (feme covert). However, in what is now known as Texas, Spanish-Mexican women remained in control of their land after marriage furthermore held a one-half interest in property they shared with their husband (Time). Maria Rita Valdez Villa was given land in 1838 after her late husband passed away. Since she was under Spanish law she owned her land which she turned into Rancho Rodeo de la Aguas, now known as Beverly Hills (Beverly Hills). Women understood the western frontier was male-dominated for it was mostly men who wanted to journey west. Since the ratio between women and men was 1 to 10, women often recorded their thoughts in diaries, letters, and spare pieces of paper (The University of Arizona Press). Considering women often didn’t have other women to consolidate in they expressed ideas about; sex, sickness, travel, pains, dreams, and death (Women’s Diaries on The Western Frontier). Mrs. Cecilia Mcmillen Adams kept the journal of her family from Illinois to Oregon in 1852, traced the journey as ¬†“We passed 7 new-made graves. A man died this morning with cholera in the company ahead of us. . .We have passed 21 new-made graves.”(Sanford) Lodisa Frizzell traveling to California in 1852 wrote: “the heart has a thousand misgivings, and the mind is tortured with anxiety, and often as I passed the fresh-made graves, I have glanced at the side boards of the wagons, not knowing how soon it would serve as a coffin for someone of us.” (Sanford)The Westwards expansion wasn’t as prosperous for Women of color as it was for White Women. Native American women had been living in the western lands before it became known as “the west”. White Americans when arriving at the west would often destroy Native American food sources and lifeways for the tribes of the west. Many Native American women endured famine and cultural genocide as more White Americans migrated towards the west (Time). Chinese Women were forced to work in laundries, taverns, and inns of mining camp across in what is now known as California. Some poverty-stricken families in China were urged to sell their daughters, who were shipped to San Francisco, later were taken to mining compounds (KhanAcademy). ¬† Evaluation of Significant Source:A significant source that was used in this research paper was the: “Mollie: the journal of Mollie Dorsey Sanford in Nebraska and Colorado Territories, 1857-1866.” This book is a primary source, due to the time period, it was written in 1857-1866 during the westward expansion. This book was published in the University of Nebraska in 1977 after it was written in 1857-1866 by Mollie Dorsey Sanford. The purpose of this source was to use exerts of the diary to show how women during the westward expansion became writers in order to answer the research question. The value of this source is immense because it is proof that women recorded history, themes most settlers felt, ¬†complications in journeys, common diseases, mortality rate, reasons why settlers would die, the way of life of the settlers and how women set a platform for women’s rights later on. Some of the possible constraints of this source are that it is written towards the end of the westward expansion, Colorado is no longer considered the “west”, and how the author elaborates on death rather than specifics of the journey which could be a limited amount of information for historians who seek concise data about the time period.