In the late 1800's, farmers believed that the railroad companies were strangling away their profits and the government was in favor of big business thus justifying their feelings of discontent.". The farmers had every right to be upset about their situation because the government saw a need for reform which alludes to the fact that problems existed, the railroads had a monopoly on shipping which raised costs and affected profit margins, the value of crops had deflated, and big business was hostile towards farmers.
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. Using the documents and your knowledge of the period, (a) explain the reasons for agrarian discontent and (b) evaluate the validity of the farmers' complaints.
Part of Paper 1:
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 brief 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 manufacturing 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. Mother Nature was showing no mercy; through grasshoppers, floods, and draughts. 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...
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