Beginnings of Socialism in Arkansas

Essay by zes_teaslongCollege, UndergraduateA-, February 2013

download word file, 4 pages 0.0

Beginning of Socialism in Arkansas

After the Civil War, agriculture in Arkansas recovered with astonishing speed due almost entirely to the institution of sharecropping and tenancy. Since there was not a great deal of money in the South, sharecropping and tenancy was ideal to plantation owners for it provided a way to gain a labor force without having to pay them in wages. Furthermore, even though agriculture was picking up after the Civil War, cotton prices began to plummet. For example, in 1867, cotton prices lingered around fifty cents a pound, but by 1894, it was as low as five cents a pound (Whayne 262). Also, during this time, railroads were entirely unregulated, and they were prone to price gouging and other abuses; so, railroad rates were now soaring, which caused transporting one's crop to become more expensive. Consequently, farmers in the late nineteenth century were suffering, and due to cotton prices plummeting and transportation rates increasing, farmers began to establish socialistic organizations, such as the Patrons of Husbandry, or Grangers, and later the Agricultural Wheel (Hopper 248).

The first sign of socialistic farmer organization in Arkansas was efforts put out by the Patrons of Husbandry, or the Grange. The organization was created by "Oliver Hudson Kelley, a former clerk in the United States Department of Agriculture, and six other men" in December of 1867 (Hild). Furthermore, the organization did not reach the state of Arkansas until August of 1872, when John Thompson Jones, who is later chosen as the master of the national Grange in 1875, organized Arkansas' first local Grange chapter. By 1873, the Grange had already established fifteen chapters in the state and these chapters met in Helena where they founded the Arkansas State Grange. The Grangers pushed for crop diversification to help lower the dependence on...