The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 20, July 1916 - April, 1917 Page: 4
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The Southwestern Historical Quarterly
The next conflict the ranchman had to fight was with the set-
tler. This assumed different forms in different places. The
contest became important in Texas before it assumed proportions
elsewhere, and Texas has worked out a system of dealing with
her public lands which is worthy of notice. By the terms of the
joint resolution of Congress of the United States, approved March
1, 1845, and by the convention of Texas on July 4, 1845, Texas
was annexed to the United States, retaining control of her own
public lands.0 In 1850 Texas sold her claim to part of New
Mexico, Wyoming, Colorado, and Oklahoma to the United States
for $10,000,000. From the vast area of public lands Texas
granted 24,454,713 acres to railroads, sold land to settlers, and
gave 3,050,000 acres for the construction of a capitol.10 No gen-
eral system of sales or lease had been evolved prior to 1879.
As in California, the laws generally favored the ranchman in
the early years. As late as 1870 every gardener, farmer, or
planter was required to maintain a fence around his cultivated
lands.'" But the settlers increased in number. They "squatted"
on public lands and engaged in farming. Cowboys frequently
tired of the company of the Texan steer and determined to settle.
The homesteader from the East pushed into new lands. The
cowmen looked with no kindly eye upon encroachments, and in
derision applied the term "nester" to the man with the hoe. The
nester was poor-he had a team, a wagon, a family, a rifle and
some dogs. Such equipment seemed small to compete with the
cattle kings, many of whom were foreigners. But the nester
had a conviction of what he called his rights and he had courage.
The cattle barons determined to stop nesting. They enclosed im-
mense areas with wire fences. They chose the best watered dis-
tricts and left no gates. Sometimes they got legal rights by
leasing the districts and sometimes they did not. When the nester
found the fence in his way, he cut the wire and proceeded. This
was a declaration of war. The cattle barons stationed cowboys
along the fences to protect them. In turn the nesters lay in gul-
lies to "get" the cowboys. Shooting occurred on both sides, but
9Senate Document, 58 Cong., 3 sess., no. 189, p. 29.
"Barker, Robert M., "The Economics of Cattle-Ranching in the South-
west," in Review of Reviews, XXIV, p. 306.
"House Ex. Does., 41 Cong., 2 sess., vol. 14 (not numbered), p. 396.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 20, July 1916 - April, 1917, periodical, 1917; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101070/m1/10/: accessed October 20, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.