Platform Peculiarity

grasshopper on leafOn August 25, 1876, the Republican Party of the brand new State of Colorado met to choose their candidates for office. They also adopted an eleven point campaign platform. Most of the points stated what was wrong with the Democratic Party’s positions. But, item #9 was unique. It was about grasshoppers!

“9. The General Government should by some systemic plan study and determine as nearly as possible the origin and peculiarities of the grasshopper plague which periodically ravages large portions of the western half of the Union, and in good time expend its aid to the people in guarding against and preventing such wholesale losses to the agricultural population as they now suffer.” (Reported by The New York Times, August 27, 1876)

LocustBut, these were not ordinary grasshoppers. They were Rocky Mountain locust (Melanoplus spretus). These hungry critters ranged through the western United States until the end of the 19th century. They are now extinct. Scientists believe that westward settlement killed the locust. Plowing and irrigation destroyed the egg cases that the locust buried in the ground.


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