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13.3 Farming the Plains. The american west. “Home, Sweet Soddie ”. What were boomtowns? List some characteristics of mining camps and boomtowns. What might have encouraged farmers to move West? What groups of people do you think were most likely to move West? Why?
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13.3 Farming the Plains The american west “Home, Sweet Soddie”
What were boomtowns? List some characteristics of mining camps and boomtowns. • What might have encouraged farmers to move West? • What groups of people do you think were most likely to move West? Why? • (Think about this from a cultural perspective) Focus your thoughts
The first pioneer families built their homes of sod Sod is a strip or block of dense grass with the roots and soil attached Settlers cut and stacked the sod in a manner similar to the way in which we stack bricks Sod homes had the advantage of staying cool during the hot summers and warm during the bitterly cold winters These homes were called “soddies” The first homes of the midwest
“[The midwest is] unfit for cultivation, and of course uninhabitable by a people depending upon agriculture for their sustenance.” - Major Stephen H. Long The “great american desert”
New Legislation • Congress passed three acts in 1862 to turn public lands into private property : • The Homestead Act • The Pacific Railway Act • The Morrill Act Incentives for settlement
Allowed any head of household over the age of twenty-one to claim 160 acres of land Each homesteader had to build a home on the land, make improvements, and farm the land for five years before being granted full ownership of the land Nearly 2 million people applied for land claims Most of the best land went before 1900, but the last homesteader received land in 1988. The homestead act
Gave land to railroad companies to encourage the construction of railroad and telegraph lines The pacific railway act of 1862
Also passed in 1862 Gave land to the states to provide colleges for “agriculture and the mechanic arts.” Not all states actually built colleges on the land they received; instead, many sold the land and used the proceeds to fund education. This was the first time the government provided assistance for higher education. The morrill act The University of Kansas
Within a few years of the passage of the Pacific Railway Act, the federal government had given the railroads some 125 million acres of public land • State and local governments had given nearly 100 million more • Railroad companies reaped profits by selling some of the land to settlers • Some 40,000 homestead claims were filed in Montana between 1906-1918 • This was the favorite destination of homesteaders Railroads encourage settlement
The 1870’s treaties had resulted in the relocation of a number of Native American nations to Indian Territory (present-day OK) Two million acres of land there was still unassigned, and a political movement was raised to open the area to settlers On April 22, 1889, thousands gathered around the perimeter, and at noon, federal troops gave the signal and some 50,000 settlers rushed into Oklahoma to stake their claim. The oklahoma land run of 1889
“The city of Guthrie was built in . . . an afternoon. At twelve o’clock on Monday, April 22nd, the resident population of Guthrie was nothing; before sundown it was at least ten thousand. In that time streets had been laid out, town lots staked off, and steps taken toward the formation of a municipal government. At twilight the campfires of ten thousand people gleamed on the grassy slopes of the Cimarron Valley, where, the night before, the coyote, the gray wolf, and the deer had roamed undisturbed.” - William Willard Howard, Harper’s Weekly, May 1889 Guthrie, oklahoma I’m a Coyote!
Frontier – An area of free land For decades the U.S. Census Bureau monitored the extent of American settlement According to the bureau, the frontier existed at a point where the population totaled fewer than two people per square mile In 1890, the federal government declared the frontier closed The closing of the frontier But did a “frontier” ever really exist when the area it is applied to was already inhabited by Native Americans?
White settlers • Primarily from the Mississippi River Valley • Mainly middle class farmers or business people • African-American settlers • Began a massive migration west in the 1870’s, inspired by Benjamin “Pap” Singleton • Others fled because of violence/oppression in the South; the withdrawal of federal troops in 1877 led to the rise of segregation laws and groups such as the Ku Klux Klan • Exodusters– African-American’s who settled in Kansas because it had been rumored that the government had set aside the state for newly freed slaves • European settlers • Economic opportunity brought thousands of Europeans to the west • Scandinavians, Irish, Russians, Germans, etc. • Chinese settlers • Chinese settlers began farming in California • Introduced innovative farming techniques which helped to establish California’s fruit industry Migrating west
Suppose you and your family are living on the prairie - you might take the perspective of a newly-freed African-American headed up from the south, a white American headed over from the east, or even an immigrant from a foreign country - write a letter to a friend back home describing the challenges and triumphs of your new lifestyle. In-class writing activity