The Change in Farming in the Late 1800's

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The 19th century was an important era in United States history. From many new advancements in industry to a drastic change in social behavior. From independent farm life to the start of urban development. Changes that have impacted society even to this day. By 1925, the massive growth from 44 million people in 1875, to 114 million people gave a broader perspective on how life should be lived in the ever expanding nation. Farms were the basis of American culture since Virginia was first founded back in 1625. People need food to live and land to grow it on. America has plenty of land to cultivate so it’s the perfect place for an agriculturally based society. Let’s start from before the civil war began and work our way up to the popularity of urbanization through the beginning of the 20th century.

The United States' prosperity was ever expanding, growing immensely every year. The more people, the more food you need. So agriculture slowly began to be recognized as needed business. In 1862 along with the Homestead Act a government position was appointed for a commissioner of agriculture. This was a leap that gave strength to the agricultural society of America. New farmers were excited about this because it showed that agriculture was had the security from the government that their farms were protected by a higher authority other than their ability to shoot trespassers. This also gave war veteran the ability to get funds for their farms by the government, written under the Homestead Act. The Agricultural boom became even more prevalent once the railroads began to arise throughout the eastern areas of the United States. Farmers were able to transport massive amounts of food all over the states for much more profit, and it also benefited people in more densely populated areas where farming was scarce, such as New York. The agricultural industry began to grow even faster once the civil war began because food needed to be transported to towns north and south to feed the millions of soldiers fighting in some of the bloodiest battles in US history. The production of food increased as research and development brought about advances in the way agriculture was done.

One of the great advances in the uprising of agricultural business was barbed wire. It began production after the civil war had ended and was invented by two farming men, Joseph F. Glidden and Jacob Haish, who both wanted to fence off their farm land without using a lot of more expensive wood to create the type of fencing usually used around farm properties. Production started low and at a more premium price when it was first introduced- about 10,000 pounds total, $20 per one hundred pounds- in 1874. After just six years the amount of barbed wire being produced was up to 80.5 million pounds and was selling to be used on farms all across the United States. Barbed wire was and still is a practical and cheap alternative to standard wooden fencing and has made it possible for farmers to secure their livestock in large open fields. Keeping their livestock in the secure areas kept the more premium cattle from intermixing with the poorer quality cattle and also aided in disease prevention. Once farmers in the Nebraska area realized cattle could survive the harshest cold climates people started flocking westward even more because they could still farm and harvest all the food they would need in those colder climates. This began the era of what most people think of as “cowboys”. Men on horseback would heard hundreds of cattle at a time from the more southern states up north to feed the population up in Chicago where they would be slaughtered or placed in the high plains to restock the used cattle in those ranges. The cowboys revolutionized the cattle business by allowing Americans north and south to have fresh meat all year round. They only lasted for about 25 years but made a huge impact on the livestock agriculture. Plus with the railroad rapidly being stretched from east to...
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