Homesteaders - American west

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  • Created by: Katie
  • Created on: 18-02-14 15:00
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  • Homesteaders
    • Why did they want to settle on the Great Plains?
      • Government action
        • They realised that the West needed populated so the Homestead Act was introduced in 1862.
        • It encouraged people to go as each family was allowed 160 acres of land, free of charge as long as they lived and farmed on it for five years.
        • The Timber Culture Act of 1876. Families were allowed a further 160 acres of land as long as 40 acres was used for trees.
        • The Desert Land Act of 1877. Gave settlers the right to buy 640 acres of land cheaply in areas that lacked much rainfall.
        • This made thousands of men and women grasp the opportunity and become homesteaders.
      • The end of the American Civil War
        • The American Civil War lasted four years (between 1861 and 1865) between the slave-owning southern states and the anti-slavery nothern states.
        • At the end of the war, thousands of men were left injured, and along with their families they were looking to rebuild their lives.
        • Thousands of newly freed black slaves were also looking to start life again.
        • They looked at moving West as the East didn't seem suitable, therefore, they became the homesteaders, cowboys and miners that transformed the West.
      • The building of the Transcontinental Railroad
        • In the 1860s two companies started building a raliroad, one starting in the East and the other starting in the West, they finally meet in Utah.
        • This made it easier for homesteaders to get to the West, as there were no wagon trains to cause problems.
        • Land was also being sold cheaply as the Railroad companies were selling the land from either side off cheaply.
    • Push and Pull Factors
      • Push
        • In Europe good farming land was wanted but there was none available.
        • People wanted to escape from poverty and unemployment
        • People wanted to escape from religious persecution.
        • There were little opportunities after the Civil War.
        • Ecoomic Problems
      • Pull
        • The offer of free land
        • The chance of a new life
        • Advertising by the railroad companies
        • Letters home from those who had already gone West.
        • The Railroad companies later on made the journey quicker
        • The Indians had been moved on to reservations
    • The Problems and solutions faced on the Great Plains
      • Water was scarce making it difficult to sometimes keep both people and clothing clean.
        • This could lead to the total failure of crops, leading to bankruptcy and starvation.
          • The second solution was dry farming. The farmers would plough their land when there had been heavy rain or snow. This left a thin layer of dust over the surface which trapped and preserved the moisture in the soil.
            • In 1874, Daniel Halliday developed the windmill would could be used to pump water from underground.
              • Water was scarce making it difficult to sometimes keep both people and clothing clean.
                • This could lead to the total failure of crops, leading to bankruptcy and starvation.
                  • The second solution was dry farming. The farmers would plough their land when there had been heavy rain or snow. This left a thin layer of dust over the surface which trapped and preserved the moisture in the soil.
                    • In 1874, Daniel Halliday developed the windmill would could be used to pump water from underground.
                      • By using a high-powered drill to get down to the water then the wind pump would be fitted.
              • By using a high-powered drill to get down to the water then the wind pump would be fitted.
      • There was no wood to protect the crops by creating fences. Making it easy for buffalo and stray cattle to eat the crops.
        • This would sometimes also lead to land disputes as they couldn't clearly mark out their land.
          • In 1874, Joseph glidden invented barbed wire.
      • Extreme weather made life on the Plains difficult. The Indians would move around each season, whereas, the homesteaders stayed rooted in one spot.
        • The drought in summers and cold in winter could damage and destroy the crops
          • The climatic conditions on the Plains were similar to those of the Russian steppes, so introduced hard winter wheat from Russia proved effective.
      • There was no wood to burn for heating or cooking so buffalo 'chips' had to be used.
      • The grass of the Plains had dense, tangled roots and the early cast-iron ploughs needed constant repairs. Making ploughing the crops hard.
        • John Deere invented a strong plough which could deal with the tough grass roots. This was known as the 'sod-buster'.
      • Dirt and disease was common as the houses had earth floors, roofs and walls which were hard to keep clean.
      • As there was no wood it was also difficult to build homes, therefore, houses had to be built out of earth.
      • Natural Hazards were also a problem as prairie fires could easy start after a dry summer. Grass hoppers could also easily eat the crops.
      • Many pieces of machinery had been developed including reapers, binders and threshers which could be easily transported on the railroads
    • Role of the women
      • They would help on the farm
      • They would be the teachers for the young children on the surrounding land

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