Big Idea How can people change the world they live in?
Connecting the East to the West In the early 1800’s news was spread by letters sent on horse or boat. News might be old before the newspaper was printed. In 1844, Samuel Morse invented a code of dots and dashes to send messages across a wire telegraph line on a telegraph machine that used electric signals, called Morse Code.
Transcontinental Railroad Because settlers were heading west and were having to go by ship around South America, or by railroad and then wagon, a group of entrepreneurs in California planned to build a railroad. A transcontinental railroad is a railroad that crosses a continent.transcontinental railroad
Transcontinental Railroad In 1862, Congress passed the Pacific Railway Act that allowed the government to loan money to the Union Pacific and the Central Pacific railroad companies. The Union Pacific railroad started in Nebraska building east to west and the Central Pacific railroad started in California building west to east.
Transcontinental Railroad On May 10, 1869 both tracks joined at Promontory Point, Utah, where railroad officials tapped in gold and silver spikes in the last piece of track.
Transcontinental Railroad After the Civil War ended, the Union Pacific hired former soldiers and freed African Americans to work on the railroad. They also hired Irish immigrants that moved west to work on the railroad. The Central Pacific hired Chinese workers. These immigrant workers faced prejudice, unfair, negative opinion that lead to unjust treatment from other workers. They often worked for less wages and were asked to do more dangerous jobs.
Transcontinental Railroad The transcontinental railroad helped settlers in the west ship their goods to the east. Also businesses and factories in the east shipped tools, clothing and other goods out west.
Life on the Great Plains The Great Plains are found in the middle of the United States. This large area is mostly grassy and flat.Great Plains Because the area is not good for farming or building homes, settlers passed right through the Great Plains and traveled further west.
The Homestead Act Congress passed a law called the Homestead Act in 1862. A homestead is a settler’s land and home. This act offered 160 acres of land to adults who were U.S. citizens or wanted to become citizens. They had to pay a small fee and promise to farm the land for 5 years. This offer was to entice people to move to the Great Plains area. Homestead Act
The Exodusters Because African Americans were still facing prejudice, they decided to move to the Great Plains. Benjamin “Pap” Singleton visited Kansas and liked it. He printed advertisements to ask the African Americans to move out west. These that moved called themselves Exodusters. They called themselves this after Exodus, a book of the Bible, that tells about how the people of Israel escaped slavery in Egypt.
Settlers Face Hardships All those that moved to the Great Plains faced several hardships. Winters were long and very cold. Summers were very hot and dry. Droughts, long periods without rain, often occurred. Droughts made farming very hard. Because the land was so dry, prairie fires were common too.
Settlers Adapt to the Great Plains Settlers could not build homes from wood because the Great Plains had very few trees. So they built their homes out of sod. Sod is grass-covered dirt held together with thick roots. Because the sod was so hard to cut, the farmers became known as sodbusters. They used heavy iron or steel plows to cut the sod.
Growing Crops Another hardship faced by the settlers was growing crops in such a dry climate. Settlers finally tried wheat seeds brought from Eastern Europe and were able to have a crop that was successful. Because farming was so difficult and workers were scarce, new and improved farming machines were invented.