Some of the problems that many farmers in the late nineteenth century(1880-1900)saw as threats to their way of life(a)explain reasons for discontent(b)evaluate the validity of the farmers' complaints
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.(a)explain the reasons for agrarian discontent and(b)evaluate the validity of the farmers' complaints.
In the late 1800s, many farmers were trapped in a vicious economic cycle. Crops
prices began falling and farmers were often forced into mortgaging their farms so they
could buy more land and produce more crops to break even. Good farming land was
becoming scarce and the banks took over the mortgages of farmers who couldn't make
payments on their loans; the railroads, on the other end, took advantage of farmers by
charging them excessive prices for shipping and storage--both equally frustrating the
troubled farmer, who in a way resembled a larger economic problem that was affecting
the entire nation.
Banks controlled the farmer by the neck, casting their shadow on the farmer's
every step and relentlessly taking over the mortgages of farmers who couldn't make
payments on their loans(doc d). Generally speaking, the average farmer struggled during
the period in part to the enormous increase of agriculture worldwide. Due to various
technological improvements, which in effect boosted competition not only nationwide but
also worldwide, farmers came face to face with foreign competition, being forced to
adjust the prices of their products to stay competitive. An increase of production repaid
the farmer's losses only temporarily, however, as many soon came to discover the
limitations of available adequate farming land as well as the doom of their own over-
production with the increasing availability of products--rendering their value below
The troubles of a farmer were part of a larger economic problem that was affecting
the entire nation. Deflation followed the Civil War, making the amount of money in
circulation decreased and the value of the dollar therefore increased. The result was unfavorable for the farmer, as products took up a lower value. Loans to be repaid with
dollars that were worth more than the ones they had borrowed, added great controversy as
farmers lost money. A solution in the eyes of many farmers became the push for "cheap
money" to reverse the effects of deflation. Farmers demanded the increase in supply of
greenbacks with the addition of unlimited coinage of silver(doc b). With the passage of
the Bland-Allison Act in 1878, around two to four million was added to the silver supply
each month, yet that only eased the pain and had not solved the core of the problem(docc)
To add more fuel to the fire, railroad companies added more load on the farmer's
back by taking advantage with astronomical prices to transport grain. A lack of
competition among the railroads accounted for high costs, sometimes making a shipment
of grain nearly unprofitable(doc h). Moreover, railroads gained control over grain storage
prices, enabling their influence over the market of price of crops. Justifying the transport
prices became all to common and unchallengeable due to the lack of competition(doc g).
Reform had been inevitable at this rate, farmers got caught in a cycle of credit that meant
longer hours and more debt with every year.
Good farming land quickly became scarce and the banks took over the mortgages
of farmers who couldn't keep up with payments on their loans; the railroads, tugging the
rope from the other end took advantage of farmers by charging them excessive prices for
shipping and storage--both equally and effectively frustrating the troubled farmer, who in
a way carried the load of a larger economic problem that was affecting the entire nation.
Due to various technological improvements, which in effect boosted competition not only
nationwide but also worldwide, farmers came face to face with foreign competition, being
forced to adjust the prices of their products to stay competitive--starting the cycle of a
never ending indebtedness. As a solution, farmers demanded the increase in supply of
greenbacks with the addition of unlimited coinage of silver, which was partly accepted
with the passage of the Bland-Allison Act in 1878, adding two to four million to the
silver supply each month. The issue of the farmer's debt stuck around, however, as
railroads took their bite accordingly, suffocating farmers with high transportation pricing.
Reform had been inevitable at this rate as farmers had no way of rising from the vicious
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