Causes Of The Dust Bowl

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Causes of the Dust Bowl and Its Effect on Oklahoma Tenant Farmers The Dust Bowl was a special phenomena. It was the result of several factors occurring all at once. Crop prices dropped in the 1920s after WWI, so after over-farming to make up profits, “many farmers left their fields uncultivated” (Appleby, et al., 296). While this was happening, a severe drought hit. The lack of moisture killed more crops, and the ground, without plants, dried up and turned to dust. Then, to make matters worse, high winds began to blow across the plains, which stirred the dust up into the air. The falling dust settled everywhere, and buried any crops that had been planted, blocking their light and air. More crops died, while at the same time, people…show more content…
You don't kick up a howl because you can't make Fords, or because you're not the telephone company. Well, crops are like that now. Nothing to do about it. You try to get three dollars a day someplace. That's the only way." (37) The companies who bought up the land were only interested in production and profit, to the point that they gave bonuses for the destruction of the unnecessary houses on their land, no matter the effect it had on the families who had lived, or were living, in them. Steinbeck referred to the banks and companies as “monsters” who had to be fed (Steinbeck, Grapes of Wrath) Steinbeck wrote several articles about migrant workers before he wrote The Grapes of Wrath. The articles were later assembled in a book called The Harvest Gypsies: On the Road to the Grapes of Wrath. About the migrants who found themselves in one of the Federal camps, Steinbeck said this: The inhabitants of the Federal camps are no picked group. They are typical of the new migrants. They come from Oklahoma, Arkansas and Texas and the other drought states. Eighty-five per cent of them are former farm owners, farm renters or farm laborers. The remaining 15 per cent includes painters, mechanics,…show more content…
So many of them had fled there, that the market for farm work was oversaturated, and the local citizens resented the tent cities and large numbers of non-residents. For the migrant workers, this meant hostility and lack of cooperation in everything to from shopping to medical care (Steinbeck, Harvest Gypsies). Wages were low, and the conditions of the migrant camps were poor. The discrimination against the migrant workers was so bad, local doctors would not provide medical care for them, some stores would not sell goods to them, and even though food was plentiful, the local farmers would let food rot or burn it to keep the migrants from eating it. The children were mocked and teased, the men harassed by citizens or even the police, and because the migrants could not claim residency, they were denied many other services. All of this mistreatment came from the hope to force the migrants out. It was the Depression, and jobs were scarce for locals; they certainly didn’t want more competition, nor did they want the numbers of migrants willing to work for lower wages there as they drove the amounts down for everyone. In addition, the farm owners were afraid that the migrant workers would unionize and force them to pay higher wages, which they did not want to pay. Local governments, too, were concerned about the migrants staying long term as it meant they would become residents and be able to apply for government

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