Agrarian Discontent in Late Nineteenth Century Essay

703 Words 3 Pages
Agrarian Discontent in Late Nineteenth Century

At the end of the nineteenth century the American farmers faced many problems. Industrialization of the farms caused many farm workers to loose their jobs. Many farmers began raising only one crop in large amounts, which led to deflation. This meant ruin for many farmers, since they had to pay back the debts they owed for land and machinery. The railroads, corporations and processors made the situation even worse by organizing together and regulating crop prices.

The mechanization of agriculture created a lot of problems for the western farmers. New machinery made crop production much easier and faster. This caused many farm workers to loose their jobs, because such machines as the
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However the deflation was not entirely their fault. The government was also to blame, since throughout the late nineteenth century it maintained a relatively static money supply. The population from 1865 to 1895 almost doubled, however money in circulation only increased by about fifty percent. In his acceptance speech, William McKinley said "Debasement of currency means destruction of values. No one suffers so much from the cheap money as the farmers and laborers. " This was true, since many farmers were unable to pay off their mortgages. The bankers charged interest rates of up to 40 percent on loans and forced many farmers into bankruptcy.

Along with the bankers, the government also cashed in on the farmer's land. They had to pay huge taxes on the land to local, state and national government. Protective tariffs also decreased he farmer's profits, while benefiting the manufacturers in the east.

Another problem for the farmer was the railroad. The "octopus", as the farmers called it, could charge extremely high freight rates on their crop. In his book, The Octopus, Frank Norris described the situation of how Dyke, a farmer, was exploited by the railroad. After realizing that the rate was now five cents, Dyke said in astonishment, "Well that ruins me, I won't make fifty cents. Make? Why, I will owe…" This was true since for many farmers it was often more profitable to burn their crop then to ship it. The railroad
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