... barbed wire began in the world of agriculture. J.F. Glidden, an Illinois farmer, patented the design -- a pair of metal wires twisted to hold a barb in place -- in 1874 as a means of keeping wild animals from private land. But barbed wire was also far cheaper than other forms of fence and it hit the market just as American settlers fanned out across the great plains.
Thus, it became the boundary enforcer of choice, the fence that appeared in places that had otherwise been left unmarked. Steel makers benefited substantially: About 270 tons of barbed wire were produced in 1875; by 1901, that number had shot up to 135,000 tons. The problem, of course, was that the newly cordoned-off lands were not unoccupied. Native American tribes had been roaming the plains for generations -- and they had no reverence for the private ownership that barbed wire protected - Damien Cave
November 22nd, 2008
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