Pacific Northwest History Essay
Pacific Northwest History
This paper will present, and ultimately prove that the Pacific Northwest of the United States has undergone economic, racial, environmental, and political changes due to events such as World War II, the emigration of people from the Midwestern U. S. , etc. The Pacific Northwest of the United States has for generations been a land that provided the substances that the rest of the country needed in order to survive and thrive.
From the times of the earliest explorers to the region, throughout the 1800s, the economy of this region relied on the production of raw materials and natural products, such as lumber, produce, fresh fish, and the like, leading experts on the area to refer to the Northwest as “the hinterland” of the U. S. (Schwantes). This economic model changed drastically with the outbreak of World War II, which led to the Northwest becoming a center of aircraft production, shipbuilding, and other industries related to the war effort, but different from the traditional products that came from the region.
Forces at work in the Region to Cause or Fuel a Changing Economy Having the luxury of viewing the history of the Pacific Northwest in retrospect over the past century or so, speaking in general terms, there were several major forces at work which ultimately caused, or fueled a changing economy. While these forces are explained in greater detail in subsequent sections of this paper, they warrant identification and a brief explanation at this point to set the stage for the research that follows. In no particular order, the forces that facilitated the changing economy of the Pacific Northwest are as follows:
ENVIRONMENTAL- The eventual industrial development of the Northwest changed the environment, depleting many natural resources, such as the timber, precious metals, and fish that helped the people of the Northwest to provide for them and export these natural products worldwide. However, once these resources were exhausted, the region was forced to turn to manufacturing of durable goods to sustain themselves, such as the many products the region turned out in support of the campaigns of World War II.
ETHNIC- Events that transpired during the World War II area changed the racial composition of the Pacific Northwest, with its effects being felt even today. To be more specific, when the United States was forced into World War II as a result of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the fighting was focused mostly on the Pacific Ocean area, which made the Northwest highly important logistically for the American troops, and launched a massive war industry, including aircrafts, ships, and soldier supplies.
What this industrialization did for the region was to draw people from the rural areas to live in cities, making the region more urban than rural, and likewise attracting minorities from other parts of the nation, changing the ethnic composition of the region as a whole. Additionally, the movement of Americans from the “dustbowl” of the Midwest to the lush and fertile lands of the Northwest brought new cultures, traditions and hard working people to the region.
POLITICAL- Because of the move of many people from a rural to an urban environment, and the increased presence of minorities and the Americans who came from the Midwest, the attitudes and value systems of the region changed, as reflected in voting patterns and political attitudes which now focused on urban issues such as poverty, crime, and social programs, whereas the previous rural way of life focused more on environmental concerns and the like.
ECONOMIC- The proliferation of industry in the Pacific Northwest, beginning in the era of World War II, changed the economy from a natural/agricultural one to a largely industrial one. These changes were not all generated from within; rather, they often took place as a result of forces beyond the Northwest. Those forces are identified and discussed in the next portion of the research.
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