What was the Wild West? The Wild West is a very special time in the history of the United States of America. Even today, when people in other countries think of the United States, they often think of this special twenty-year period of time from 1865 to1885. It is known around the world as the Wild West. It was during this time that two groups of people became legends in American history: the American cowboy and the American Indian. Hundreds of motion pictures and thousands of books have been made and written about their lives. They will always hold a special place in the history of America and the history of Arizona. The story of the Wild West began at the end of the American Civil War in 1865. Many Union and Confederate soldiers had no jobs and no homes to which they could return. They needed a chance to start a new life in a new place. During the Civil War, the people of America had learned to like and enjoy the taste of cooked beef. The closest place where thousands of wild cattle roamed was in the American West. Who were the American cowboys? Many men came West to gather these wild cattle for the meat markets of the large eastern cities. They had been soldiers in the Civil War. They became the American cowboys. The map shows the Union and Confederate States during the American Civil War. It also shows those states that were still territories. 84  Chapter 8 • Territorial Growth