History of Technology 3: Why Was Barbed Wire Popular?

It's what you've all been waiting for: our video on barbed wire! ...None of you have been waiting for this? Wow. Okay. We'll try not to be offended.

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TechnologyHistory of Technology

Transcript

00:28

people will go for anything as long as it's easy on the wallet barbed wire

00:33

fences also didn't need much maintenance earthen fences and hedges were a

00:38

headache compared to barbed wire a good rule of [Man gives thumbs up at barbed wire fences]

00:41

thumb for fences and significant others well nobody likes it when they're high

00:45

maintenance most importantly there was about a zero percent chance of the

00:48

cattle getting out of the fence go lean on a barbed wire fence yourself and [Man leans on barbed wire fence]

00:52

it'll be easy to understand why it hurts a lot our lawyers have informed us that

00:57

we need to add a disclaimer please do not actually lean on a barbed wire fence

01:03

lawyers they're so pushy so what did all this barbed wire mean for the Wild West [Barbed wire fence appears in a field]

01:07

well for one land became divided duh ranchers used barbed wire to close off

01:12

their own properties this was awesome for bigshot ranchers with lots of land

01:16

and it was less awesome for small ranchers who depended on lots of free

01:20

open range no fencing in their property meant that

01:23

ranchers were raising more cattle on smaller areas of land which helped the [Cows mooing near barbed wire fence]

01:27

whole meat industry take off and all those cattle couldn't survive on the

01:32

naturally growing grass farmers started supplementing their food with lots of

01:36

grain and corn this meant that more corn and grain were grown in the Midwest and [Grain and corn field appears]

01:42

all this sounds fine right well for the most part it was but there were a few

01:46

people in the West who weren't huge fans like we said before for folks that owned

01:51

plenty of land the idea of fencing it in and keeping other people's hands off it

01:55

was awesome it was an old school hey kids get off my love kind of deal but [Man chases boy off his lawn]

02:02

for people who didn't happen to own property the size of

02:04

Montana all of this kind of stunk small-time ranchers depended on open

02:09

rain style of ranching which let herds migrate according to weather and

02:13

resource needs well by 1883 this evolved into what was called the fence cutting [Person cuts fence cutting]

02:18

wars this was when Cowboys and ranchers who loved the open range went around

02:23

cutting the new shiny barbed wire fences in protest Oh spoiler alert they did not

02:29

win things also got worse for American Indians in the barbed wire era which

02:33

honestly should come as no surprise for anyone who has ever read anything about

02:37

American history at all ever barbed wire is part of a much bigger story of

02:41

violence disease racism and genocide against America's indigenous peoples

02:46

basically putting up fences around property in the West was the final death [People stood beside grave of communal ownership]

02:50

knell for the era of communal ownership suddenly every acre had somebody's name

02:55

on it eventually this resulted in the Dawes

02:57

Act of 1887 which seized tribal lands and divided them into neat little

03:02

squares that American Indians had to individually own of course the US

03:07

government didn't mind trimming off extra pieces and selling them and sure

03:11

American Indians eventually got a few casinos but they certainly never hit the [Man playing slot machine]

03:15

jackpot