WHY DID PEOPLE SETTLE AND STAY ON THE WEST ?

PUSH AND PULL FACTORS- WHY DID PEOPLE IMMIGRATE TO THE WEST?
Push factors (driving people to leave their homes):
Land scarce in home country
Political and/or religious persecution
Revolutions
Poverty
Irish potato famine
Recession

Pull factors (attract people to a new location):
Promise of freedom (religious and political)
Hope for a new life Industry
Jobs
Cheap land
Plenty of gold was available to be mined and sold
Fertile soil

GOLD RUSH
The gold rush made many people come over to the Plains and stay there. Also the newly built railroads made by chinese people, made it easier for people to come over to the Plains to settle and there was an increase of Chinese across the West.
Life could get boring or lonely very easily, especially for the women homesteaders. Also, if you needed a specific special item not possessed on ordinary homesteads, like medicine perhaps, stores were quite rare, far away from your homestead, and often expensive to buy from.
When it rained the sod houses roof leaked and sod went every where, like on beds and furniture, and snakes sometimes fell into their houses through the roof. Grasshoppers were a huge problem, eating anything they could find that was green. This happened a few times, when huge plagues of them swarmed over the plains.
Conflict with cowboys for fencing off the land which they claimed to be their own.

INDIANS

The American Indians are the indigenous people of the Americas. The imigration of the white people made a major impact on the Indians. Between th 16th and 19th centuries the indian population declined. This is mostly due to new epidemic diseases introduced to them by the whites, and genocide and warfare at the hands of the whites. Not only was it the diseases but also the rapid decline in the Buffalo meant that there was a lack of food, it also meant that they couldn't make Tipi's or any of the other items made from the Buffalo.Usually Indians were very peaceful until the white man got greedy over land, also gold mining and the Indians decided the best way to prevent more white men from coming onto their land was also raiding wagon trains or homesteads. This caused a lot of trouble with the whites and soon the american army was called in and the Indians were put on reservations.

DISASTERS
Drought was always a threat for their crops and could make or break a winter. A spouse becoming ill. If the husband was ill then there may not be any meat on the table for the winter months. If the wife was ill there was no one to look after the children while the husband went hunting (which could take days) unless there were older children. Doctors were miles away as were neighbors.
Tough life and people aged very quickly. The life expectancy was approx. 35 - 45 years old.South-Park-Mormons.jpg
LAND CLAIMING
In the late eighteen hundreds, white Americans expanded their settlements in the western part of the country. They claimed land traditionally used by native Indians. The Indians were hunters. And they struggled to keep control of their hunting lands. Both the settlers and the Indians were guilty of violence.
The federal government supported the settlers' claims. It fought, and won, several wars with Indian tribes. It forced the Indians to live on government-controlled reservations.

SETTLERS
All the settlers found it easy to get land in the west. In eighteen sixty-two, Congress had passed the Homestead Act. This law gave every citizen, and every foreigner who asked for citizenship, the right to claim government land. The law said each man could have sixty-five hectares. If he built a home on the land, and farmed it for five
In the late eighteen hundreds, white Americans expanded their settlements in the western part of the country. They claimed land traditionally used by native Indians. The Indians were hunters. And they struggled to keep control of their hunting lands. Both the settlers and the Indians were guilty of violence.
The federal government supported the settlers' claims. It fought, and won, several wars with Indian tribes. It forced the Indians to live on government-controlled reservations.
All the settlers found it easy to get land in the west. In eighteen sixty-two, Congress had passed the Homestead Act. This law gave every citizen, and every foreigner who asked for citizenship, the right to claim government land. The law said each man could have sixty-five hectares. If he built a home on the land, and farmed it for five years, it would be his. He paid just ten dollars to record the deal.
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LAND CLAIMING
Claiming land on the Great Plains was easy. Building a farm there and working it was not so easy. The wide flat grasslands seemed strange to men who had lived among the hills and forests of the east.
Water was hard to find, too. And although the land seemed rich, it was difficult to prepare for planting. The grass roots were thick and strong. They did not break apart easily. The weather also was a problem. Sometimes months would pass without rain, and the crops would die. Winters were bitterly cold.
They brought wood for homes. Wood and coal for fuel.
Technology solved many of the problems. New equipment was invented for digging deep wells. Better pumps were built to raise the water to the surface. Some of the pumps used windmills for power.
The fence problem was solved in eighteen seventy-four. That was the year "barbed wire" was invented. The sharp metal barbs tore the skin of the men who stretched it along fence tops. But they prevented cattle from pushing over the fencesand destroying crops.
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FARMERS
A farmer could get wood to build his house. But he had to buy the wood and pay the railroad to bring it west. To farm the plains, he needed barbed wire for fences, and plows and other new equipment. All these things cost money. So a plains farmer had to grow crops that were in big demand. He usually put all his efforts into producing just one or two crops.
RAILROADS
The railroads also owned the big buildings where grain was stored. Farmers had to pay to keep their grain there until it was sold. They said storage costs were too high.
The farmers were angry about the high cost of borrowing money, too. They opposed the import taxes -- tariffs -- they had to pay on foreign products. Some of the tariffs were as high as sixty percent. Congress had set the levels high to protect American industry from foreign competition. But farmers said they were the victims of this policy, because it increased their costs.
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FARMERS
Farmers as individuals could do nothing to change the situation. But if they united in a group, they thought, perhaps they could influence government policy.
Farmers began to unite in local social and cultural groups called "granges." As more and more farmers joined granges, the groups began to act on economic problems.
Farmers organized cooperatives to buy equipment and supplies in large amounts directly from factories. The cost of goods was lower when bought in large amounts. The granges also began to organize for political action. Local granges became part of the national grange movement.
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RAILROADS
The railroads said the laws were not constitutional, because they interfered with the right of Congress to control trade between 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 approval.
POLITICS
The Supreme Court rejected this argument. In a decision in eighteen seventy-six, the Supreme Court said states had a legal right to control costs of railroad transportation. It said owners of property in which the public has an interest must accept public control for the common good.
The farmers seemed to have won. But the powerful railroad companies continued to struggle against controls. They reduced some transportation costs, but only after long court fights.

The granges tried to get Congress to pass laws giving the federal government power to control the railroads. Congress refused to act.
Many farmers lost hope that the granges could force the railroads to make any real cuts in their costs. They began to leave the organization. Others left because the economy had improved. They no longer felt a need to protest. Within a few years, the national grange had lost most of its members. Some local groups continued to meet. But they took no part in politics.


QUIZ
1. Give some reasons why people wanted to settle in the west.



2. What troubles did homesteaders face on the plains?



3. Why did they build the railroad?



4. How long did it take to build the railroad?



5. Give three reasons why the settlers stayed in the west after the gold rush.