Late Nineteenth Century

999 WordsFeb 11, 20084 Pages
In the late 1800's, farmers believed that the railroad companies were strangling away their profits and the government was in favor of big business thus justifying their feelings of discontent.". The farmers had every right to be upset about their situation because the government saw a need for reform which alludes to the fact that problems existed, the railroads had a monopoly on shipping which raised costs and affected profit margins, the value of crops had deflated, and big business was hostile towards farmers. Documents A-H reveal some of the problems that many farmers in the late nineteenth century (1880-1900) saw as threats to their way of life. Using the documents and your knowledge of the period, (a) explain the reasons for…show more content…
Crops such as cotton and wheat, once the sustenance of the agriculture industry, were selling at prices so low that it was nearly impossible for farmers to make a profit off them. Furthermore, improvement in transportation made it easier for foreign competition to gain the upper hand, making it harder for American farmers to dispose of extra crops that had accumulated. To do this, many railroads offered rebates and drawbacks to larger shippers who used their rails. As a result of the agricultural depression, many farm groups, most notably the Populist Party, arose to fight what farmers saw as the reasons for the decline in agriculture. 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. However, in many ways, the railroads hurt small shippers and farmers. During the last twenty years of the nineteenth century, many farmers in the United States saw monopolies and trusts, railroads, and money shortages and the loss in value of silver as threats to their way of life, though in many cases their complaints were not valid. Finally, years of drought in the Midwest and the downward spiral of business in the 1890's devastated many of the nation's farmers. Thus, the farmers of the late nineteenth century had a valid complaint against railroad shippers, for these farmers were hurt by the unfair practices
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