The agriculture in America transformed from the years 1865-1900 when new advances in technology, such as wheat thrasher and tractors came into play. As well, Government also helped farmers by the Homestead Act and the removal of American Indians from several parts of the United States. Lastly, farmers struggle due to the decrease in prices while production increased. The economy started to go into depression which severely hurt the farming industry.
Technology played a major part in the improvement of agriculture. The transcontinental railroad helped people move west to farm and aided farmers in transporting their goods to eastern markets. (Doc. B) Major land grants made the expansion of the railroad possible. (Doc. B) Another technological improvement was that agricultural farming equipment continued to be further developed. The invention of the wheat thrasher and the tractor that took 20 to 30 horses to pull lead to the mass production of crops and an abundant harvest. (Doc. D) Chicago was a “hub” for shipping and canning of meat and loading train cars with crops to be shipped east. (Doc. F) Farmers took advantage of this and benefitted greatly. They used technology to the fullest and found railroads they could not transport.
Government assisted farmers and agriculture in 1865-1900. The biggest thing that helped American agriculture was the Homestead Act. It gave farmers up to 160 acres of land to farm as long as they lived there and paid a small fee for the land. This expanded the agricultural industry in the West very quickly. (Doc H) The state government enforced laws on farmers which gained control of the states and the people. In an Illinois Supreme Court case, Munn vs. Illinois decided to uphold the Granger laws, establishing as constitutional the principle of public regulation of private businesses involved in serving the public interest. (Doc C) Subsidies and land grants encouraged railroad growth in the west. (Doc B) The Populist Party made their own political party because they didn’t agree with other parties and politicians. Farmers, as well as Democrats, supported the idea of silver coinage. The Republicans and people living in the cities wanted the gold standard and did not support silver coins. The cities depended on the farmers to keep their economy and factories going so this created a controversy. The farmers formed the Populist party because they did not agree with the gold standard and wanted to keep peace. (Doc J) The Oklahoma Land Rush also allowed whites to settle in Indian Territories. The government ended up agreeing with citizens that Indians were a waste of space, they were uneducated, and worthless. Americans didn't want to have to provide for them with their crops and goods. The land given to the indians became smaller and smaller and this brought the opportunity for farmland and agricultural growth. (Doc I) The Dawes Severalty Act allowed for reservation settlement. It allowed the Government to buy excess Indian land to be settled by non-Indians. As one can see, the government played a very important role in the American agriculture and its expansion.
The economy in America was experiencing cycles of panic and prosperity between 1865-1900 and this affected American agriculture greatly. Overpopulation and falling prices created stress during this time. (Doc. A) Poverty was a highly common thing during this time period for both whites and African Americans alike in the South. Landowner’s controlled sharecropping. These landowners were able to take advantage of sharecroppers by collecting their pay and accumulated debts before paying their own part. (Doc. E) The Farmers' alliance was developed in the late 1800’s in order to keep the average American farmer economically stable. Despite what the alliance accomplished, the panic of 1893 brought about the collapse of railroad overbuilding and was the worst economic depression that America had experienced to date. This economic depression leads to poverty, hardship, and unemployment for many farmers in American. Soon, the value of the land began depleting. Due to overproduction, farm prices began to decrease. (Doc. G) Many farmers struggled in these difficult economic times. (Doc. G)
The biggest aid in expanding and bringing upon American agriculture in this time period was technology. The railroads and new farming equipment using horses helped increase production of crops and send them east to sell and make profit. The government helped in giving farmers land and getting rid of the Indians. They gave many subsides and land grants to help expand farming. The farmers and Government worked well together because the Government knew that without agriculture the economy would be virtually non-existent. The economy ended up making things hard on agriculture with the price of crops going down and their value becoming less every year. The Depression of 1893 occurred and took its toll on farmers, but despite all hardships against agriculture they persevered and made it through the economic hard times.