Agrarian Discontent and the 19th Century

Topics: Currency, Agriculture, Money Pages: 2 (429 words) Published: March 18, 2007
Agrarian Discontent and the 19th Century
America, like any other nation, has always relied heavily on agriculture. Differing from other nations, however, is the problems that agriculture has created through America's short history. It can be argued that the Civil War was started by agriculture; the South developed as an agricultural dependent region, while the North developed as a industrial region; creating two distinct, almost separate cultures. Some twenty years after the Civil War, new problems were arising; that of agrarian discontent. Farmers of the 1880s and 90s were having a harder and harder time getting by. There was no showing of care ; through the drafts. But the farmers placed the blame of their problems on two main areas; the money supply, and the railroads.

In the late 1800s deflation became a major problem for the farmers. Farmers were suffering losses year after year and were forced to have their mortgages foreclosed on, as they saw it, by their "Eastern Master (Doc D)." The reason the farmers blamed this "Eastern Master" was no one was aiding them in their falling prices. The Populist Party felt that silver was the answer, and not coining it was a "vast conspiracy against mankind" across "two continents, and it also emphasized that silver would not make "labor easier, the hours shorter, or the pay better. " To look at it from the farmer's point of view, Frank Norris wrote The Octopus. " In reality, the silver would just lead to more problems, as was emphasized by William McKinley. They are the first to feel its bad effects and the last to recover from them…It is mere pretense to attribute the hard times to the fact that all our currency is on gold basis ...It would not make farming less laborious or more profitable (Doc B)." The railroads were trying to stay in business, and saw raising the rates as the only way to accomplish that. The railway was perhaps one the most influential components in America's growth, especially economically. They...
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