The Agrarian And Commercial Society

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Troubled Farmers “In the first years of peacetime, following the Revolutionary War, the future of both the agrarian and commercial society appeared threatened by a strangling chain of debt which aggravated the depressed economy of the postwar years”.1 This poor economy affected almost everyone in New England especially the farmers. For years these farmers, or yeomen as they were commonly called, had been used to growing just enough for what they needed and grew little in surplus. As one farmer explained “ My farm provides me and my family with a good living. Nothing we wear, eat, or drink was purchased, because my farm provides it all.”2 The only problem with this way of life is that with no surplus there was no way to make enough money to pay excessive debts. For example, since farmer possessed little money the merchants offered the articles they needed on short-term credit and accepted any surplus farm goods on a seasonal basis for payment. However if the farmer experienced a poor crop, shopkeepers usually extended credit and thereby tied the farmer to their businesses on a yearly basis.3 During a credit crisis, the gradual disintegration of the traditional culture became more apparent. During hard times, merchants in need of ready cash withdrew credit from their yeomen customers and called for the repayment of loans in hard cash. Such demands showed the growing power of the commercial elite.4 As one could imagine this brought much social and economic unrest to the

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