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Study notes

Conflict Between Ranchers and Homesteaders

  • Levels: GCSE
  • Exam boards: Edexcel

Ranchers and homesteaders were in conflict with each other over land.  Ranches required a lot of land so there was enough space and grass for the livestock. Ranches were usually on public land, though ranchers believed they owned the land their cattle roamed on. Conflict began when homesteaders began to file claims on rancher’s ‘land’.

Ranchers and homesteaders were in conflict with each other over land.  Ranches required a lot of land so there was enough space and grass for the livestock. Ranches were usually on public land, though ranchers believed they owned the land their cattle roamed on. Conflict began when homesteaders began to file claims on rancher’s ‘land’.

 

Ranchers deployed lots of tactics to make it difficult for homesteaders to file claims on their ranches. For example, they would file their own claims on the most attractive parts of the land (usually near waterholes) so that homesteaders would not want the land surrounding it. If they could afford it, ranchers would buy land from railroad companies or take homesteaders to court. Ranchers usually won court cases as homesteaders rarely had enough money to pay a lawyer. Sometimes ranchers would accuse homesteaders of cattle rustling (stealing cows) as this was punished harshly. Finally, some ranchers were violent towards homesteaders. The most famous conflict between ranchers and homesteaders was the Johnson County War. 

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