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#132: Settlers Rush to Claim Western Land

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An 1889 photo of a sod home and farm built by settlers in Kansas
An 1889 photo of a sod home and farm built by settlers in Kansas

SHIRLEY GRIFFITH:? Welcome to THE MAKING OF A NATION -- American history in VOA Special English.

In the late eighteen hundreds, white Americans expanded their settlements in the western part of the country. They claimed land traditionally used by American Indians. The Indians were hunters, and they struggled to keep control of their hunting lands.

十九世紀后期,美國白人不斷向西部遷移,把原來屬于印第安人的土地占為己有。印第安人祖祖輩輩以打獵為生,他們不斷抗爭,希望保住獵區。

The federal government supported the settlers' clhoaims. It fought, and won, several wars with Indian tribes. It forced the Indians to live on government-controlled reservations.

然而,聯邦政府卻支持白人對土地的占領。政府軍與印第安部落進行了數次交戰,都取得了勝利。結果,政府把印第安人趕到了政府控制的保留地。

This week in our series, Larry West and Steve Ember tell about the people who settled on the old Indian lands after the wars.

LARRY WEST:? After the Indians were defeated, thousands of settlers hurried west. Some hoped to find new, rich farmland. The soil they left behind was thin and overworked. Their crops were poor. Some simply hoped to buy any kind of farmland. They did not have enough money to buy farmland in the east.

在印第安人被打敗之后,成千上萬的定居者涌向西部。一些人希望能夠找到新的肥沃的農田,因為他們原來的土地很貧瘠,而且已經被過度耕作,所以收成很差。還有一些人在東部根本買不起農地,所以他們只希望能在西部隨便弄到一塊地。

Others came from other countries and hoped to build new lives in the United States.

還有一些人從外國來,希望能夠在美國開始新的生活。

All the settlers found it easy to get land in the West. In eighteen sixty-two, Congress had passed the Homestead Act. This law gave every citizen, and every foreigner who asked for citizenship, the right to claim government land. The law said each man could have sixty-five hectares. If he built a home on the land, and farmed it for five years, it would be his. He paid just ten dollars to record the deal.

所有這些定居者都能夠在西部很輕易地獲得土地。1862年,美國國會通過了《宅地法》,賦予所有的美國公民和申請成為公民的外國人獲得政府土地的權利。該法規定,每個人可以獲得六十五公頃的土地。如果在土地上蓋間房子,并耕種五年,就可以獲得土地的所有權,只需要交十美元辦理手續就行了。

STEVE EMBER:? Claiming land on the Great Plains was easy. Building a farm there and working it was not so easy. The wide flat grasslands seemed strange to men who had lived among the hills and forests of the east.

在西部大平原上獲得土地是很容易的,但在這里種地和干活就不那么輕松了。對那些長期生活在東部山地和森林的人們來說,西部廣袤無垠的平原草地非常陌生。

Here there were few hills or trees. Without trees, settlers had no wood to build houses. Some built houses partly underground. Others built houses from blocks of earth cut out of the grassland. These houses were dark and dirty. They leaked and became muddy when it rained.

這里沒有什么山崗和樹木。沒有樹,定居者就沒有蓋房子用的木頭。有些人只能把房子的一部分建在地下。還有些人把草皮整塊切下來建房子,這種房子又黑又臟,下雨時還會漏水,變得泥濘不堪。

There were no fences on the Great Plains. So it was hard to keep animals away from crops.

那時,大平原地區沒有柵欄,因此很難擋住動物,讓它們不去毀壞莊稼。

LARRY WEST:? Settlers in the American west also had a problem faced by many people in the world today. They had little fuel for heating and cooking. With few trees to cut for fuel, they collected whatever they could find. Small woody plants. Dried grass. Cattle and buffalo wastes.

當時的西部原定居者也面臨著今天世界許多地方的人們所面臨的問題,那就是,他們幾乎沒有用來取暖和做飯的燃料。由于沒有樹木可供砍伐,定居者們只能把他們所能找到的一切東西用來作燃料。小灌木、干草、牛和野牛的糞便都被拿來用。

Water was hard to find, too. And although the land seemed rich, it was difficult to prepare for planting. The grass roots were thick and strong. They did not break apart easily. The weather also was a problem. Sometimes months would pass without rain, and the crops would die. Winters were bitterly cold.

水也很少。另外,盡管西部的土地看起來肥沃,但要為耕種做準備卻很難。這里的草根又粗又硬,很難拔出。氣候也很成問題,有時好幾個月不下雨,莊稼都干死了。冬天又異常寒冷。

STEVE EMBER:? Most of the settlers, however, were strong people. They did not expect an easy life. And as time passed, they found solutions to most of the problems of farming on the Great Plains. Railroads were built across the west. They brought wood for homes. Wood and coal for fuel.

然而,絕大多數定居者都非常吃苦耐勞。他們并沒有指望能生活得舒舒服服。隨著時間的流逝,他們為在大平原耕種時遇到的許多問題找到了解決辦法。而且,鐵路已經貫穿西部,火車運來了蓋房子用的木材以及可以燒火的木柴和煤。

Technology solved many of the problems. New equipment was invented for digging deep wells. Better pumps were built to raise the water to the surface. Some of the pumps used windmills for power.

新技術解決了許多問題。人們發明了打深井的設備,并且用更好的水泵把水抽到地面。有些水泵還是用風車做動力的。

LARRY WEST:? The fence problem was solved in eighteen seventy-four. That was the year "barbed wire" was invented. The sharp metal barbs tore the skin of the men who stretched it along fence tops. But they prevented cattle from pushing over the fences and destroying crops.

1874年,柵欄的問題也得到了解決。這一年,人們發明了"帶刺鐵絲網"。盡管這種鋒利的金屬鐵絲網會把安網的人的皮肉劃破,但它能夠阻止牛沖過鐵絲網,糟塌莊稼。

New farm equipment was invented. This included a plow that could break up the grassland of the plains. And farmers learned techniques for farming indry weather.

人們還發明了新的耕種設備,其中包括一種能夠在草原上翻地的犁。另外,農民們還學會了在干旱季節耕種的技術。

STEVE EMBER:? Most of the problems on the plains could be solved. But solving them cost money.

平原上的大部分問題都可以得到解決,但需要花錢。

A farmer could get wood to build his house. But he had to buy the wood and pay the railroad to bring it west. To farm the plains, he needed barbed wire for fences, and plows and other new equipment. All these things cost money. So a plains farmer had to grow crops that were in big demand. He usually put all his efforts into producing just one or two crops.

農民可以得到建房子需要的木頭,但他得掏錢買木材,付運費。要想種地,他需要鐵絲網、犁和其它新的耕種設備。所有這一切都需要錢。為了賺錢,草原上的農民必須種植市場需求量大的農作物,他們通常會用全部精力種一到兩種莊稼。

LARRY WEST:? The farmers of the plains did well at first. There was enough rain. Huge crops of wheat and corn were produced. Much of the grain was sold in Europe and farmers got good prices.

農民們剛開始時收成不錯。因為雨水豐沛,小麥和玉米大獲豐收。大部分的糧食銷往歐洲,而且還賣出了好價錢。

The farmers, however, were not satisfied. They were angry about several things. One was the high cost of sending their crops to market. The only way to transport their grain was by railroad. And railroad prices were very high for farm products--higher than for anything else.

然而,農民們并不滿意,他們對幾件事感到很生氣。一是把糧食運往市場的成本太高。當時,運糧食到只能靠鐵路,而鐵路對運糧食收取的費用比其它產品都高。

The railroads also owned the big buildings where grain was stored. Farmers had to pay to keep their grain there until it was sold. They said storage costs were too high.

鐵路公司還擁有大型的糧倉,農民在糧食賣出之前必須交存糧食的錢,而這種倉儲費也非常高。

STEVE EMBER:? The farmers were angry about the high cost of borrowing money, too. They opposed the import taxes -- tariffs -- they had to pay on foreign products. Some of the tariffs were as high as sixty percent. Congress had set the levels high to protect American industry from foreign competition. But farmers said they were the victims of this policy, because it increased their costs.

此外,借錢的成本太高,也令農民不滿。他們反對政府征收關稅,因為這使他們不得不為購買外國產品而付稅。有些關稅率高達百分之60。美國國會設定這么高的進口關稅,是為了保護美國的工業免遭外國產品的沖擊。但農民說,他們是這項政策的受害者,因為這增加了他們的成本。

Farmers as individuals could do nothing to change the situation. But if they united in a group, they thought, perhaps they could influence government policy.

一家一戶的農民是無法改變這種狀況的,但他們想,如果聯合起來,進行抗爭,他們也許就能夠影響政府的政策。

LARRY WEST:? Farmers began to unite in local social and cultural groups called "granges." As more and more farmers joined granges, the groups began to act on economic problems.

于是,農民們通過建立地方性的社會和文化組織聯合起來,這種組織叫"農莊"。當越來越多的農民加入到農莊時,農莊就開始在經濟問題上采取行動了。

Farmers organized cooperatives to buy equipment and supplies in large amounts directly from factories. The cost of goods was lower when bought in large amounts. The granges also began to organize for political action. Local granges became part of the national grange movement.

農民們組織起合作社,直接到工廠購買大量的農用設備和供給,因為購買量大,所以價格會便宜一些。農莊還開始組織一些政治活動。地方農莊逐漸成為全國農莊運動的一部分。

Grange supporters won control of state legislatures in a number of middle western states. They passed laws to limit the cost of railroad transportation and crop storage.

在美國中西部的許多州,農莊運動的支持者控制了州議會。他們通過立法,限制鐵路運費和糧食倉儲費。

Railroads refused to obey these laws. They fought the measures in the courts. They did not win. Finally, they appealed to the United States Supreme Court.

鐵路公司拒絕遵守這樣的法律。它們告上法院,要求取消這些措施,結果敗訴了。它們仍舊不服,最終把官司打到了美國最高法院。

STEVE EMBER:? The railroads said the laws were not constitutional, because they interfered with the right of Congress to control trade between the states. The railroads said states could not control transportation costs. To do so would reduce profits for the railroad. And that would be the same as taking property from the railroad without legal approval.

鐵路公司說,這樣的法律是違犯憲法的,因為這干涉了國會控制各州之間貿易的權利。鐵路公司還說,各州沒有權利控制運輸成本,這樣做會減少鐵路公司的盈利,這等于是非法剝奪鐵路公司的財產。

The Supreme Court rejected this argument. In a decision in eighteen seventy-six, the Supreme Court said states had a legal right to control costs of railroad transportation. It said owners of property in which the public has an interest must accept public control for the common good.

最高法院駁回了這種說法。1876年,最高法院裁決,各州有權控制鐵路運費。法院還表示,如果某項財產涉及公眾利益,財產的擁有者必須為了社會大眾的利益而接受公眾的控制。

The farmers seemed to have won. But the powerful railroad companies continued to struggle against controls. They reduced some transportation costs, but only after long court fights.

農民似乎在與鐵路公司的斗爭中贏了,但強大的鐵路公司仍然竭力要擺脫控制。在經過一系列官司后,鐵路公司才降低了一些運輸費。

LARRY WEST:? The granges tried to get Congress to pass laws giving the federal government power to control the railroads. Congress refused to act.

農莊組織試圖游說國會通過法律,賦予聯邦政府控制鐵路的權力。但國會拒絕這么做。

Many farmers lost hope that the granges could force the railroads to make any real cuts in their costs. They began to leave the organization. Others left because the economy had improved. They no longer felt a need to protest. Within a few years, the national grange had lost most of its members. Some local groups continued to meet. But they took no part in politics.

許多農民不再指望農莊組織能迫使鐵路公司真正降低運費。他們開始退出農莊。還有些人因為經濟情況改善而退出了農莊,他們覺得自己不需要再抗議了。在短短的幾年內,全國農莊組織就失去了大部分成員。一些地方上的農莊組織繼續集會,但不再參與政治活動。

New protests groups would be formed in a few years when farmers once again faced hard times. But for now -- in the late eighteen seventies -- times were good. Most people were satisfied.

幾年后,農民們又遇到了新的困難,他們又成立了新的抗議組織。但在十九世紀七十年代后期,農民的日子還不錯。大多數人是滿意的。

We will continue this story next week.

(MUSIC)

SHIRLEY GRIFFITH:? Our program was written by Frank Beardsley. The narrators were Larry West and Steve Ember.? You can find our series online with transcripts, MP3s, podcasts and images at www.666321.live. Join us again next week for THE MAKING OF A NATION -- an American history series in VOA Special English.

___

This is program #132

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作者:鄭烈波
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