The “Pioneering spirit” is the drive Americans in the mid-1800s had to move their lives out West. At the time, the West was an unknown land. Some people had moved there, but most of this new American territory was unsettled upon (not counting of course the Natives that had been there for decades, who the new settlers always seemed to skip over). Americans had many reasons to move out to the West, and many did. Whether they were looking for a new start, more freedom, or simply for economic reasons, many took the journey to the West, most bringing their families along with them. The other major economic push towards the West came with the promise of gold in California. For this, many men and families packed up their belongings and pushed West.
The Homestead Act was an act of government to persuade Americans to settle on the Western land. It gave free public land to anyone who was willing to settle on it for at least five years and “improve the land,” as the act stated. With this, Republicans sought to attract families to the West, and did. Other lands in the West were owned by the newly built Railroad. In an effort to sell this land, the companies campaigned the large grassland (known by many as the Great American Desert) as the “garden spot of the world.” In these cases, Americans willing to take up settlement in the West were persuaded by the promise of land that was their own, land they could settle, work, and harvest on. Because of this, farming became a business in the West. It gave promise not only in profit from product sales on the worldwide market, but also from the selling of land.
Other Western settlers were drawn to the land for more freedom. In these territories where not many lived, there were less restrictions placed on people, and more of a chance for them to live the way they wanted. The Mormons are a group of people who took this concept to Utah. There, they practiced their faith in their community – with such practices as polygamy and giving women rights that became controversial topics in the nation. African Americans were another group of people who migrated to the West. They saw leaving the South as leaving poverty and white vengeance. Many moved from Louisiana and Mississippi to states such as Kansas and Texas. The Western lands were a promise of hope and freedom where new standards could be set.
The push West was no always easy – many, many people died before even reaching their destination. But it was the promise of reaching something greater than what their steady lives had been that instilled the “pioneer spirit” in the hearts of Americans.