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Ch. 10 & 11 The Open Range and Safety Valve (CH. 10 and 11)
Transcript of Ch. 10 & 11 The Open Range and Safety Valve (CH. 10 and 11)
Cowboys did not just appear, nor did they all die out
Spanish brought the first cattle to the New World
this means they also were the first vaqueros and commercial cattle ranchers
they used prior knowledge and ideas from Caribbean slaves to create New World Cowboys
As such, herding became an important part of the Mexican culture
Myth of the Cowboy
Hollywood has created much of the images we associate with cowboys and western towns.
Although there was a lot of drinking and violence in cattle towns, there were not a lot of shootouts.
most cowboys shot themselves accidentally while cleaning their gun or getting dressed. Usually men who were shot by another were unarmed, not in a shootout.
Cowboys were also not all Anglo...many were Mexican, African American, Peruvian and sometimes Chinese.
Women on the Open Range
Not many women became ranchers, but those that did really did well.
women found ranching liberating and exciting.
they enjoyed being out of doors
they also enjoyed the admiration of their male counterparts.
(see the terms list for some awesome cattle women)
The cattle industry and settlers moving west had a huge impact on the land and peoples that lived there.
Killing off the Buffalo led to the starvation of Native Americans in many cases
made it easier to move Natives onto reservations
Made Natives dependent on the cattle industry and government for beef.
Buffalo no longer died on the Plains and so the ground was often depleted of nutrients.
Huge herds of cattle overgrazed and made it nearly impossible for grass to grow back
this was not good for the cattle industry either.
Settlers and other companies in the West also hurt the environment by:
overgrazing, cutting too much timber without replanting, and contaminating water supplies
Missions and individual ranchers had thousands of head of cattle.
Longhorns were the bovine of choice as they were very hardy and could survive the open range.
Life of a cowboy was NOT glamorous.
Anglos encountered Hispanic cattle raising in Louisiana and then Texas.
herders AKA cow-boys in the colonial South had been slaves or indentured servants that had moved west toward the Mississippi.
Railroads were important in the growth of the cattle industry, cow towns and meat processing.
many businesses in cattle towns revolved around the cattle drive and cowboys coming during the drover season.
For mor information on the Johnson County war use the following web address.
Too many cattle led to other issues
cattle "back ups"
blocking off water
conflicts with farmers
Major conflicts also occurred over land use.
Johnson County War-Wyoming
Lincoln County-New Mexico
The Range Tightens Up
Several things cause the cattle industry to shrink and change.
WWI and the postwar bust. (this is common for many farm related businesses)
Several seasons of bad weather
new breeds of cattle that had more meat and could be kept in fenced enclosures.
The Homestead Act helps people the center of the U.S.
160 acres to every head of household, 80 acres to single people.
Promoted by labor leaders and businessmen
the more people in the West, the more resources and markets for Eastern industrialists.
Although a lot of land went to Homesteaders, even more was sold.
much of the best land was taken by the R.R. and private enterprise.
Shenanigans and land
Lumber and Cattle Companies took land that was intended for Homesteading.
The California Redwood Company had an ingenious strategy.
Reality for Homesteaders
very few who were granted land were able to keep it.
The costs were extremely difficult to meet.
life was difficult and families were isolated.
Land quality and access to water could also make it difficult to succeed.
Location, location, location
the lush grass of the Great Plains was actually a very arid place.
Without proper rainfall farms were doomed.
many "scientists" developed new farming techniques that were intended to make the Plains less arid.
If you farm it...rain will come!
In truth, this part of the U.S. is dry, but does have periods of increased moister and then drought.
some actually believed that their techniques were working....until the next drought hit.
Mechanization and Agribusiness
Mechanization of farming reduced the demand for labor on farms.
This led to more people moving to cities to find work.
Mechanization also allowed for the development of giant "bonanza farms" of single crop spreads.
these were less like small farms and businesses and more like industrial farming on a large scale.
this put small farmers out of business for a while.
Small farmers were more flexible and produced more than a single crop, bonanza farms eventually overproduced and put themselves out of business when prices fell too far too fast too long.
Group Effort and Independence For Women
women had similar or better success in homesteading compared to men.
Much like mining and cattle industry, women liked the independence homesteading offered. (despite the hard work)
most homesteads were successful when families worked together, or when multiple families utilized their numbers.
Growth of Populism
Farmers had to enter the market economy to be successful
Farmers faced several obstacles along the way: R.R. rates, Banking and finance issues, and lack of competition in transportation options.
all of these things made costs higher for western farmers.
farmers saw the East as the source of all their troubles.
This led to the growth of a Populist Party which represented the interests of small farmers and city workers too. (see the platform at end of p. 141-142)
Coinage of silver was seen as crazy because of the real fear of inflation, and was primarily a rural idea.
8 hour work days and government regulation of key industries were welcomed by urban and rural lower classes alike.
The Populists voice died out until the Progressive Era.
Shifts in farming led to shifts in international relations.
overproduction of foodstuffs led to political leaders looking for new markets overseas.
American Expansion into Asian-Pacific Markets was driven, in part by increased production in farming.
Although there was a good balance in prices between farm and industrial goods, there was also an increase in tenant farming.
the increase was steep for both white and African American tenant farmers.
Also an increase of migrant wage workers.
tensions grew between the farmers that hired them and the workers.
Mechanization of farm equipment made farm unionization difficult to achieve.
Migrant workers followed the crops, allowed for production of commercial market crops.
Chinese had made up the bulk of this labor force prior to passage of the Exclusion Act.
more people came from Philippines, Hawaii, Japan, and Mexico.
Unionized American laborers became violent and their activities convinced many farmers to use Mexican and other immigrant groups for most of their labor.