After Appomattox, survivors of the Civil War began the long process of recovery and reconciliation. The federal government turned its built-up military might westward to subdue Native American opposition to white settlement. Farmers, ranchers, and miners from the East and Europe converged with migrants from the West Coast and Asia to occupy Indian lands between the Rockies and the Mississippi.

The 1890 massacre at Wounded Knee marked the end of four hundred years of continuous Native American armed resistance in North America. The West became safe for settlement; buffalo hunting became the sport of gentlemen; and writers, from Buntline to Harte to Twain, popularized archetypal images of a western frontier, fast disappearing.

view large image

Map on which Walt Whitman traced his travels. Enclosed in a letter to John Burroughs, [Washington, D.C.], 23 November 1879. Woodward, Tiernan & Hale, Map Engineers. Map of the Missouri Pacific Through Line and Connections. St. Louis: [Missouri Pacific Railroad?], ca. 1879.

Clifton Waller Barrett Library of American Literature (MSS 3829)