How Did Pioneer Settlements Affect Land in the West.
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SHIRLEY GRIFFITH: Welcome to THE MAKING OF A NATION — American history in VOA Special English language.
In the tardily eighteen hundreds, white Americans expanded their settlements in the western role of the state. They claimed country traditionally used past American Indians. The Indians were hunters, and they struggled to go along command of their hunting lands.
The federal government supported the settlers’ claims. It fought, and won, several wars with Indian tribes. Information technology forced the Indians to live on regime-controlled reservations.
This calendar week in our series, Larry West and Steve Ember tell near the people who settled on the erstwhile Indian lands subsequently the wars.
LARRY WEST: After the Indians were defeated, thousands of settlers hurried west. Some hoped to find new, rich farmland. The soil they left behind was sparse and overworked. Their crops were poor. Some only hoped to purchase whatsoever kind of farmland. They did not accept enough money to buy farmland in the east.
Others came from other countries and hoped to build new lives in the U.s.a..
All the settlers found it easy to get land in the W. In eighteen sixty-two, Congress had passed the Homestead Human activity. This constabulary gave every citizen, and every foreigner who asked for citizenship, the correct to claim government state. The law said each man could accept sixty-5 hectares. If he built a home on the land, and farmed it for five years, it would be his. He paid simply ten dollars to record the deal.
STEVE EMBER: Claiming country on the Peachy Plains was easy. Building a farm there and working it was not so easy. The broad flat grasslands seemed strange to men who had lived among the hills and forests of the east.
Here there were few hills or trees. Without trees, settlers had no woods to build houses. Some built houses partly underground. Others built houses from blocks of earth cutting out of the grassland. These houses were dark and muddied. They leaked and became dingy when it rained.
There were no fences on the Great Plains. So it was hard to keep animals away from crops.
LARRY WEST: Settlers in the American west also had a trouble faced by many people in the earth today. They had little fuel for heating and cooking. With few copse to cutting for fuel, they collected whatever they could observe. Pocket-size woody plants. Dried grass. Cattle and buffalo wastes.
Water was hard to find, too. And although the state seemed rich, it was difficult to ready for planting. The grass roots were thick and strong. They did non interruption apart easily. The weather also was a problem. Sometimes months would pass without rain, and the crops would die. Winters were bitterly cold.
STEVE EMBER: About of the settlers, however, were strong people. They did not expect an like shooting fish in a barrel life. And as time passed, they plant solutions to most of the bug of farming on the Nifty Plains. Railroads were built across the w. They brought woods for homes. Wood and coal for fuel.
Engineering solved many of the problems. New equipment was invented for digging deep wells. Improve pumps were congenital to heighten the water to the surface. Some of the pumps used windmills for power.
LARRY WEST: The argue trouble was solved in xviii seventy-four. That was the year “barbed wire” was invented. The precipitous metallic barbs tore the skin of the men who stretched it along fence tops. But they prevented cattle from pushing over the fences and destroying crops.
New subcontract equipment was invented. This included a turn that could break up the grassland of the plains. And farmers learned techniques for farming in dry out conditions.
STEVE EMBER: About of the issues on the plains could be solved. But solving them toll money.
A farmer could go wood to build his business firm. Just he had to buy the woods and pay the railroad to bring it due west. To farm the plains, he needed barbed wire for fences, and plows and other new equipment. All these things price money. So a plains farmer had to grow crops that were in big demand. He usually put all his efforts into producing just i or two crops.
LARRY W: The farmers of the plains did well at first. There was enough pelting. Huge crops of wheat and corn were produced. Much of the grain was sold in Europe and farmers got good prices.
The farmers, however, were not satisfied. They were angry about several things. One was the high cost of sending their crops to market. The just way to transport their grain was by railroad. And railroad prices were very loftier for subcontract products–higher than for anything else.
The railroads also endemic the big buildings where grain was stored. Farmers had to pay to continue their grain in that location until it was sold. They said storage costs were too high.
STEVE EMBER: The farmers were aroused well-nigh the high cost of borrowing money, likewise. They opposed the import taxes — tariffs — they had to pay on foreign products. Some of the tariffs were as high equally threescore percentage. Congress had set the levels high to protect American manufacture from foreign competition. Just farmers said they were the victims of this policy, considering it increased their costs.
Farmers equally individuals could do nothing to change the situation. But if they united in a group, they thought, perhaps they could influence government policy.
LARRY WEST: Farmers began to unite in local social and cultural groups called “granges.” Every bit more than and more farmers joined granges, the groups began to act on economic bug.
Farmers organized cooperatives to purchase equipment and supplies in large amounts straight from factories. The cost of goods was lower when bought in big amounts. The granges also began to organize for political action. Local granges became office of the national grange move.
Grange supporters won control of state legislatures in a number of middle western states. They passed laws to limit the price of railroad transportation and crop storage.
Railroads refused to obey these laws. They fought the measures in the courts. They did not win. Finally, they appealed to the United States Supreme Court.
STEVE EMBER: The railroads said the laws were not constitutional, considering they interfered with the right of Congress to control trade betwixt the states. The railroads said states could not control transportation costs. To do so would reduce profits for the railroad. And that would be the same as taking property from the railroad without legal approving.
The Supreme Courtroom rejected this statement. In a decision in eighteen seventy-6, the Supreme Court said states had a legal correct to control costs of railroad transportation. Information technology said owners of property in which the public has an interest must accept public control for the mutual practiced.
The farmers seemed to accept won. But the powerful railroad companies connected to struggle against controls. They reduced some transportation costs, only only after long court fights.
LARRY Westward: The granges tried to get Congress to laissez passer laws giving the federal government power to control the railroads. Congress refused to act.
Many farmers lost hope that the granges could strength the railroads to make any existent cuts in their costs. They began to leave the organization. Others left because the economy had improved. They no longer felt a demand to protest. Within a few years, the national grange had lost near of its members. Some local groups continued to come across. But they took no part in politics.
New protests groups would be formed in a few years when farmers once over again faced hard times. But for now — in the belatedly eighteen seventies — times were good. Most people were satisfied.
We will go on this story side by side week.
SHIRLEY GRIFFITH: Our program was written by Frank Beardsley. The narrators were Larry West and Steve Ember. You can find our series online with transcripts, MP3s, podcasts and images at voaspecialenglish.com. Join united states of america again next calendar week for THE MAKING OF A NATION — an American history serial in VOA Special English.
This is program #132
How Did Pioneer Settlements Affect Land in the West