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Farmers Revolt

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Autor:   •  December 9, 2010  •  938 Words (4 Pages)  •  348 Views

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From the early beginnings of America to well into the nineteenth century, America has been dominantly an agricultural country. Farming and the country life have always been a great part of the American culture. Thomas Jefferson even expressed his gratitude for the farming class by saying

Those who labor in the earth are the chosen people of God,

if ever He had a chosen people, whose breasts He,

has made His peculiar deposit for substantial and genuine virtue.

The American culture was built upon farming and agriculture but since the end of the civil war and the abolition of slaves, things have changed dramatically to the American lifestyle. This time brought on the Industrial Revolution which sparked many factories and new ways of transportation across America. There were many acts passed to encourage the agricultural lifestyle still such as the Homestead Act of 1862, the Timber Culture Act of 1873, the Desert Land Act of 1877, and the Timber and Stone Act passed in 1878. As a result of these acts, farm income dropped and new machines and methods or systems to farm such as sharecropping and tenant farming became available and made it much easier to increase crop yields. The people who had the smaller farms, uncultivated land, or limited resources could not compete against the farms who were bigger, better, and more modernized with the new technology. After many people failed on the farms, they were seen heading to the urban areas for employment in factories. In an effort to save rural America, the Populist Party was formed by mainly Southern and Western farmers. The main goal for this party was to try and solve the problems which plagued most of the farmers around the country. In the election of 1896, the Populists almost captured the seat in the oval office, but were unsuccessful. In the end they failed. The farmers in the late nineteenth century were plagued with many different problems which the Populist Party sought to resolve but in the end by not gaining control of the executive branch failed.

Many different things attributed to the plight in the late nineteenth century of the farmers. The American farmer faced many problems from the protective tariffs which caused great overproduction of foods such as corn, wheat, and cotton (docs 3,5), speculation in farm products, over-greedy middlemen, and exorbitant transportation rates. The farmers in the west were also losing money to banks in the east. The banks were giving the farmers a high interest rate which they could not easily pay. (doc 2) The transportation rates put the farmers in debt greatly. To find new markets to sell their goods, farmers needed to ship their food else where and find new customers. To do this, farmers needed to transport their food, usually by train. When they would do this the railroad companies would charge much more for the farmer than the big businessman because the businessmen would give donations to the railroad companies while the small farmers would not. To make up for the low rates the railroads were charging the businessmen, the farmers were made to pay more to make up for the price cut. The farmers had many problems which needed to be fixed. This brought the creation of the

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