Farmers of the late 1800's: Changing the Shape of American Politics

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The period between 1870 and 1900 was a time to change politics. The country was for once free from war and was united as one nation. However, as these decades passed by, the American farmer found it harder to live comfortably. Crops such as cotton and wheat, once the cash crop of agriculture, were selling at prices so low that it was nearly impossible for farmers to make a profit. Improvements in transportation allowed larger competitors to sell more easily and more cheaply, making it harder for American yeoman farmers to sell their crops. Finally, years of drought in the Midwest and the fall of business in the 1890s devastated the farming community. Most notably, the Populist Party arose to fight what farmers saw as the issues affecting…show more content…
Beginning in 1871, several states passed laws controlling railroad freight. The railroads fought the Granger Laws, in federal court, where they were ruled unconstitutional. The railroads regularly used rebates and drawbacks to help win the business of large shippers, and made up this loss in profit by increasing the cost to smaller shippers such as farmers. As a result, many farmers, already hurt by the depression in agriculture, were ruined. These farmers were hurt by the unfair practices of the railroad enterprise.
Despite the flushed predictions of prosperity that had lured new settlers to the plains, the reality was more difficult. The farmers claimed that they did not have enough land, money, and transportation (Doc C). The farmers went into in a never ending cycle if they did not have a good harvest. As Booker Washington explains the farmers had no money so they had to borrow money from the banks which charged 12 to 30 percent interest. The interest the farmers were hit with was nearly impossible to repay so they had to mortgage everything and if the mortgage wasn’t paid the land was foreclosure which led the yeomen to become tenant farmers (Doc B). With periods of drought growing good crops was hard. Leading Economic Sectors shows how the farmers predicament of not being able to make a very
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