In 1849, two galvanic forces drove settlers through America’s western frontier in unprecedented numbers: Mormon and Mammon. Brigham Young, the leader of the Church of Latter Day Saints, briefly established the theocratic state of Deseret with thousands of his followers in the deserts of Utah. In California, tens of thousands combed the earth not the heavens for their inspiration: gold. Until this point, American settlement of the continent had been largely incremental, east to west. However, the process had two powerful accelerants: population growth (from 4 million to 23 million 1790–1850); and territorial acquisition – Texas was annexed in 1845, Oregon acquired (1846) and the Southwest (including California and its gold) in 1848. The legal mechanism for disposing of the impedimenta to settlement posed by sitting tenants was resolved by the Indian Removal Act (1830). The cycle of Indian deportation and broken promises would be repeated, again and again.
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