Last Updated 27 Mar 2020


Category Agriculture, Farmer
Essay type Research
Words 608 (2 pages)
Views 304
Farmer’s discontent during the period 1870 – 1900 had an impact on their attitudes and actions towards national politics. During this time period manufacturing had a huge growth spurt and agricultural began to decline. This made it harder for farmers to make a living. Document G shows how much manufacturing increased between the years 1849 – 1899. America could no longer aspire to be a nation of small freehold farms. Manufacturers and people living in big cities depended on farmers to pretty much keep them alive.

Many people didn’t realize how much of an affect farmers had on their everyday lives. If you took farms away from the United States during this period of time, everything would have completely crashed. Farmer’s had difficulties making a living because the rates of being a farmer were so high. “Nothing has done more to injure the western region than these freight rates. ” (Document F) The high rates of being a farmer made it difficult to pay payments on the lands and the rate of interest was rapidly rising.

Some farmers couldn’t even sell their produce at a reasonable profit. These farmers worked long, hard hours and the government wasn’t on their side about paying them with a decent income yet they wanted so much from the farmers. Along with farm prices failing, railroad prices were increasing. Railroads were important to farmers because they took farmers out to their lands, carried their produce of hard work to markets, and brought them the manufactured goods that they needed.

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Many farm settlements were established around railroads because of this reason. Railroad managers were forced to charge very high rates and because of it, that means farmers would have to pay more money to use railroads when they already used enough money keeping their crops alive. Document B talks about how it was also hard for colored farmers to make a living especially after the Civil War. “They had to get the local merchant or someone else to supply the food for the family to eat while the first crop was being made. (Document B)

They couldn’t pay interest and by the end of the first year, they found themselves in debt. The attempt in the second year didn’t go so well either because they had old debts plus new interest to pay. “Many of the colored farmers had almost given up hope…” (Document B) Not only was money an issue for farmers but also in the late 1880s and early 1890s crop suffered severely from droughts. It was cool and dry which was unfavorable for all crops.

This made it difficult for farmers to keep their crops alive. By the late 1880s, farmers were so fed up with everything that they created the Farmers Alliance, seeking to overthrow the chains from the banks and railroads that bound them. The Farmers Alliance merged with other liberal Democrats to form the Populist Party. They strived for railroad regulation, tax reform, and unlimited coinage of silver. In the election of 1892 the Populist Party nominated James B. Weaver for president and as Document D shows, most of the farmers in the west, mainly Nevada, voted for the Populist Party because that party was rooted in the frustration of the farmers and they needed change.

The farmers were furious with the way things were going for them and they had hoped that the Populist Party would help. Even though they didn’t win the election, they made a remarkable showing with 1,029,846 popular votes and 22 electoral votes. These electoral votes only came from the midwestern and western states. With the creation of a new party, out of discontent, the farmers managed to change national politics.

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