Go West ... and grow up with the country

In 1854 Horace Greeley, a New York newspaper editor, gave Josiah B. Grinnell a famous piece of advice. "Go West, young man, and grow up with the country," said Greeley. Grinnell took Greeley's advice, moved west, and later founded Grinnell, Iowa.

Before 1830 Iowa was Indian land, occupied by the Sauk, Fox, Missouri, Pottowatomi, and other Indian tribes. The defeat of the Sauk and Fox Indians in the Black Hawk War in 1832 opened the first strip of Iowa to settlement. By 1840 Iowa's population of settlers had risen to 40,000.

Because no government land office was established in Iowa until 1838, many early settlers were squatters who set up farms on land that they did not own. Because they had cleared the land and built houses, they believed that the federal government would give them the right to purchase the land at minimum prices when it came up for sale. Unfortunately, later settlers, known as "claim-jumpers," tried to take the squatters land away by outbidding them at public auctions or taking over their land when a family went to town for supplies. Squatters formed more than 100 land-claims associations - extra-legal associations of local settlers - to eliminate competitive bidding and protect their holdings when the lands were offered for sale.

In 1841 Congress passed the recognized squatter's rights. The Preemption Bill provided that squatters who lived on and made improvements on surveyed government land could have the first option to buy up to 160 acres for $1.25 an acre.

At the same time that settlers poured into Iowa, other pioneers migrated to Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. Lumberjacks and miners were the first to arrive. Soon they were followed by farmers and traders. Even before this northern tier of states was filled, people in the Mississippi Valley leapfrogged treeless prairies, deserts, and mountains for the west coast.

It was not until the 1870s and 1880s that pioneers settled on the prairies of Nebraska, Montana, and the Dakotas, because these areas were much drier and settlers preferred well-watered regions near rivers and streams. Only when this land was no longer available did pioneers edge onto the more difficult prairies, using windmills to pump water and unplowed land or sod for their houses. Most of this settlement would occur after the Civil War.

Make Gilder Lehrman your Home for History


Already have an account?

Please click here to login and access this page.

How to subscribe

Click here to get a free subscription if you are a K-12 educator or student, and here for more information on the Affiliate School Program, which provides even more benefits.

Otherwise, click here for information on a paid subscription for those who are not K-12 educators or students.

Make Gilder Lehrman your Home for History


Become an Affiliate School to have free access to the Gilder Lehrman site and all its features.

Click here to start your Affiliate School application today! You will have free access while your application is being processed.

Individual K-12 educators and students can also get a free subscription to the site by making a site account with a school-affiliated email address. Click here to do so now!

Make Gilder Lehrman your Home for History


Why Gilder Lehrman?

Your subscription grants you access to archives of rare historical documents, lectures by top historians, and a wealth of original historical material, while also helping to support history education in schools nationwide. Click here to see the kinds of historical resources to which you'll have access and here to read more about the Institute's educational programs.

Individual subscription: $25

Click here to sign up for an individual subscription to the Gilder Lehrman site.

Make Gilder Lehrman your Home for History


Upgrade your Account

We're sorry, but it looks as though you do not have access to the full Gilder Lehrman site.

All K-12 educators receive free subscriptions to the Gilder Lehrman site, and our Affiliate School members gain even more benefits!

How to Subscribe

K-12 educator or student? Click here to edit your profile and indicate this, giving you free access, and here for more information on the Affiliate School Program.

Not a educator or student? Click here for more information on purchasing a subscription to the Gilder Lehrman site.

Discussion

Interesting background, but when I saw it tagged to Geography, I thought I'd see a map :(


Add comment

Login or register to post comments