Farming the Planes

Political, Economic, Geographic, and Social


Homestead act of 1862 impacted the settlement of the west by offering people, who want up to 160 acres, only to pay $30 and live on their land for 5 years. This encouraged settlers to move out west to farm because it was cheaper than land in the east.


The government subsidized building railroads for the transportation of the food, which helped the food get from the farms to the cities faster, and fresher. This lowered the prices of grain for the people, but made it harder for farmers because the were supplying more food for less pay. A lot of farmers could not afford this so they would stop farming making the prices of grain rise again because less was being grown. This inflation of the price of goods helped contribute to the Great Depression.



The environment in the west made it cheaper for farmers to migrate west and attempt to settle new lands. These lands however were better for farming than anything else because they were prairies and grasslands, The mass farming which occurred because of the cheap lands led to a degradation of the lands, and the dust bowl, which was a great famine. The environment however did manage to force new technologies like steel plows in order to grow in the less hospitable lands. Another geographical consequence was the growth of railroads. Because the food source and the consumers were so far apart, there needed to be mass shipping, which just so happened to come in the form of railroads to feed the masses.


The social factors which contributed to the settlement of the west were how appealing a 'new life' was. All the settlers wanted to move out west because it gave a new beginning, and was so absolutely cheap to do. The freedoms of the west also allowed mixed babies and reshaped gender roles, forever altering the American national identities.