Latin American Contributions

Mexican Mining Contributions

In 1849 the Americans rushed to California in search of gold yet the Americans had no idea to mine this gold. The part the Mexicans played was in the Gold Rush was that they showed the Americans their bateau or later named the gold pan. The Mexicans also showed them were the how to dig quartz out of the mountains, the Mexicans also had showed them how to use a simple machine called the arrastra or a grinding mill. Back then you could find a grinding mill just about anywhere because the Mexicans had showed them. In the 1800s the Mexicans had discovered copper in Arizona. A man Henry Comstock was Mexican miner that had the first big silver strike in about 1859.

Mexican Cowboys


The first vaqueros were mestizos. They improved their skills, such as roping, branding, and rounding, in the New Mexican enterprise after the Spanish conquistadors introduced horses and cattle. The mixing of the two cultures created Mexican cowboys.

A charreade today is the competitive proving ground of a Mexican cowboy. These cowboys are the brave charros. Charros originally had contests to show off their ranching skills, like bronco riding and roping. Now these rodeo showmen restrained their act to provide high quality entertainment in rodeos. A charreada is basically the same as a rodeo. In Mexico it is a sport with strict rules that need to be followed. Men and Women are allowed to compete while wearing colorful costumes.

Charros who competed at charreadas would travel miles for the competition. They generally started training as young children, as well as learning to perform rope tricks and good horsemanship on well trained steeds. The charros claim that their sport is living history, an art form.

The Mexican cowboys also invented the western saddle with its useful horn. European saddles did not have the horn. This made it easier when trying to rope a steer. It also made it easier for the horses. They also gave us the poncho and the idea of ten-gallon hats came from their sombreros.

African Contributions

Sojourner Truth
Sojourner Truth’s original name was Isabella Baumfree who was born into slavery in 1797. Over the course of her slavery, she was traded from household to household many times. Her owners treated her very cruelly. In 1827, New York decided to free all slaves, so she was freed. At the time she had a baby, so she took her and went on a mission to find the rest of her children. She found most of her children, but some were illegally sold into slavery in the southern states, where slavery was still legal. She then became rather religious and started to preach in an evangelical church. She then moved to New York and changed her name to what it is known as now: Sojourner Truth. She spoke a lot about abolition, women’s rights, and nonviolence. During the Civil War, she met with Abraham Lincoln, the president at that time. She wanted to enlist African American troops to help stop slavery. She wanted the federal government to let former slaves settle in the free land in the west. During her life, she continued to preach throughout the country until she died in 1833.
external image 423px-Sojourner_Truth_01.jpg

Harriet Tubman

Around 1820 Harriet Tubman was born in Dorchester County, Maryland. At the age six Harriet started to be a house servant. Eventually, seven years later she worked in the fields. Harriet suffered from multiple injuries in her teens. She always wanted to stand up for people so she stopped an overseer from attacking another slave. After that, an overseer threw a 2 IB weight hitting Harriet in the head. She got married to a man named John Tubman in 1844 taking his last name.

In 1849, Harriet was frightened that she and other slaves would be sold, so she ran away. She started at night, following the North Star all the way to Pennsylvania. The next year she took her sister and her sisters children away to be free. Harriet made a risky journey back to the south to get her brother and a couple other men. She went back on her third trip to free her husband, who married another woman, so she took other slaves to freedom.

Harriet went back to the south many times. She created many intelligent methods that were very successful. She even used the master’s horse and buggy to help slaves escape. They leave on Saturday nights because newspapers couldn’t be printed until Monday. If babies were crying she would give them a drug because it would put the fugitives in danger. Harriet also took a gun with her to threaten the runaways if they wanted to go back. Tubman would say, “You’ll be free or die.”

By 1856 came around the reward for Harriet Tubman’s capture was $40,000. The wanted poster said she was illiterate but she wasn’t. If someone asked her to read, she did and they didn’t think she was Harriet Tubman. It fooled them.

Harriet Tubman made a total of 19 trips in 1860 traveling to the south to get the slaves. “Moses” became Harriet’s code name. Harriet Tubman was a cook, nurse, and a spy for the Union during the Civil War. Following the war, Harriet settled down in Auburn, New York staying there for the rest of her life, dying in 1913.

Ben York

York and the rest of his family were slaves of William Clark, one of the people who led the expedition to the west coast on the Lewis and Clark Expedition. He was born in Caroline County, which is close to Ladysmith, Virginia. He was Clark’s servant since a very young age. York was one of the 40 people who went with Lewis and Clark on their expedition in 1803-1806 but was the only African American with them. He kept a journal of the trip and his assignments to keep track of what they did. He hunted for them and scouted and did field medicine. York’s hair and skin interested the Indians because they never saw any African Americans. After the expedition, everyone received money or other gifts but York didn’t receive anything because he was a slave. He apparently asked Clark to be freed because of his good behavior. Blacks or whites don’t know him very well because people don’t think of slaves as much. But his journals that were found down by Mexico reminded us about him and what he did. We don’t know his first name for sure but they think it is Ben, but nothing says it.

Frederick Douglas

Frederick Douglas was born sometime in February of the year 1818 in Talbot County, Maryland. He was born as a slave and his mother died when he was seven years old. You can tell that he will have a pretty hard life.

During his time in slavery, he taught the other slaves how to read the New Testament. Many slaves loved these new lessons, but the owners didn’t like it very much. They came with clubs and forcefully stopped the lessons themselves. He was later sent to a plantation owner named Edward Covey. Covey attacked him many times, but Douglas retaliated and won. Covey never tried him again. He escaped by ferry and train to get out of slavery.

Douglas was a very good author. He wrote many books including: “Narrative of the Life Of Frederick Douglas, an American Slave” and others. He was known best for being an abolitionist. He was overjoyed when the Emancipation Proclamation was announced and helped slaves get to the north.

He was elected many different positions such as the marshal of the District of Columbia and was even the first black person to receive a vote for the Vice President. He then moved to a home in Washington DC where he would live with his family and children. He later died on February 20th, 1895.


Asian Contributions

Chinese on the Railroads

The Central Pacific Railroad faced many problems. The workers at this time were doing a good job until there were new silver mines discovered in Nevada. Most of the workers went off to Nevada in search of silver, which left Charles Crocker, who was the head of the construction, without any workers.

Charles decided to hire 50 Chinese workers. Chinese at this time were known as "coolies". He didn’t think that these new workers would do a good job. But he was surprised, the Chinese did such a great job that Charles had to hire more. When he sent agents to gather more of the workers, it seemed as if every man wanted the job. Because of the war, it forced most Chinese people into debt and then into poverty.

More than 12,000 Chinese people worked for Central Pacific. Even though 1,000 lost their lives because of snow slides, and explosions, they managed to lie up to ten tracks in about a day.


Women Contributions

Elizabeth Blackwell

Elizabeth Blackwell was born in Bristol, England on 1821. When she turned 11 she and her family moved to America to support woman’s rights and anti- slavery. When Blackwell was young she never liked the human body. She was more interested in history and metaphysics. The thing that inspirer her to get into the medical field was her friend, who was dying, had said to her, “I would have been spared my worst suffering if my physician had been a woman.”

Blackwell had no idea how to become a physician, but she talked to some friends of the family who were physicians. They had said it was a great idea, but it was expensive and no school offered any courses for women. This never stopped Blackwell from getting into the field though. She read a few books on physicians and a piled for all the medical college in New York and Philadelphia. Elizabeth was accepted in 1847 to a college in western, New York. The college was called Geneva Medical College. The reason why she was accepted was because the men who voted only voted for her because they thought it would be a good laugh to watch her fail. When she was there, the student body was mostly boys who didn’t treat her with much respect or kindness. With in two years of being in at the college she was the first woman to receive her M.D. degree from an American college. She began to working in Paris, then when she lost sight in one of her eyes she came back to America to become a surgeon. Then she applied for a job at a women’s department, but she was refused. After that she and some of her friends opened a clinic. They saw patients three afternoons a week. Later in her life she and her sister moved into a house in the country. Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell gave up her medical practice in 1870’s.

Abigail Smith Adams

Abigail was born in 1744 in Weymouth, Massachusetts. Abigail was a descendant of the Quincy family, which had a very high social status in the community. She had a very strong interest in education, but was never fully taught in a formal school. So she read what ever she could get her hands on, and reading is what led Abigail to meet her husband John Adams, who was a Harvard graduate, who dedicated his life to law. Both Abigail and her husband loved their country, and when Adam left for war she was even more brought to want freedom. Woman’s rights was a topic you didn’t want to fight Abigail on, for she was very drawn to fight for the right to vote and equality for all genders. Abigail was a wife to one president and a mother to another, she will always be loved and remembered for all the progress she helped our country achieve.

Abigail Adams
Abigail Adams

Narscissa Whitman

On March 15, 1808, Narscissa Prentiss Whitman was born to Stephen and Clarissa Prentiss in Prattsburg, Steuben County, New York. They had nine children and she was the third. As one of their oldest daughters, she helped with the raising of her younger siblings. Her first ancestor in America was Henry Prentice. He came from England and settled in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It was predictable that Narcissa's grandfather was the person who changed it from Prentice to Prentiss. Narcissa Prentiss Whitman became one of the most well known people of the 19th century just like her husband. Many people knew her more personally than Marcus Whitman due to the letters and diaries she sent to her family and her friends in the east while she was living in the Oregon Country.

Prattsburg was about 25 miles south of Rushville, New York, That was where Marcus Whitman was born. The conditions of Prattsburg were as early as those in Rushville. Her family had moved to Prattsburg in 1805. Early on before, Stephen Prentiss backed up his family by the use of farming, even though his jobs were a carpenter and a joiner. He started using a gristmill, distillery, and sawmill, which provided him with lumber or wood to build houses in the enlarging community.

Narcissa took part of the same religious re-awakening as her fiancé Marcus. At a revival in 1819, Narcissa Prentiss, only 11 years old, had a conversion experience and was let in as a member of the Congregational Church. Narcissa read about the life of Harriet Boardman and was inspired by it, an American Board of Commissioners of Foreign Missions (ABCFM) missionary to India. At age 16, she made up her mind that she wanted to become a missionary. Later on, she wrote a letter to apply to the ABCFM:

"I frequently desired to go to the heathen but only half-heartedly and it was not till the first Monday of Jan. 1824 that I felt to consecrate myself without reserve to the Missionary work waiting the leadings of Providence concerning me."

That was her application to the American Board of Commissioners of Foreign Missions.
Another important, interesting fact is that she was one of the two white women to take a huge part in and cross the Oregon Trail.
Narscissa Whitman