During the second half of the nineteenth century, the United States was experiencing a dramatic transformation in its agriculture due to the availability of new technology, the impact of government policy and economic conditions. Following the Civil War, many factors influenced the westward expansion and agricultural development in the West, such as Great Plains, Homestead Act: the US government had transferred over 270 million acres of public land to private hands. Also, the establishment of railroads motivates people to focus on planting crops such as corn and wheat and promoting more significant business in American agriculture.
The development in technology and mechanization promoted agricultural production considerably and contributed to the decrease in prices of food and cash crops. Document 1 gives the statistic represent the declines in wheat, cotton, and corn prices in the late nineteenth century as the result of the increasing demand for producing those agriculture products. The development of machines and chemical fertilizers made it more convenient for farmers to take care of their farms and grow crops with high productivity.
The historical situation for this trend is the Homestead act that helped thousands of people gain the land for agriculture purpose; the mechanized farming in the nineteenth century influenced the way Americans did agriculture and helped farms produce more.
The point of view from the table shows that overproducing, the increase in supply could cause a dropping in the price of products due to the decreasing demand. On the other hand, document 4 shows the process that reapers take the benefit from horses to harvested wheat.
The purpose of the image is to describe a new harvest system that made it easier for farmers to grow and harvest crops with less effort and less time. The image demonstrates that the presence of new technology was a turning point in American culture as it changed from the small scale farming to the large scale farming. One example of the benefit of technology was the invention of the twine-binder, which was created based on the combination of reaper-thresher to help farmers increased harvest yields with less amount of labor. The presence of new machinery had changed American agriculture in the period 1865-1900. However, big business could be hazardous. For example, farmers could face the disadvantages of natural disasters like the Dust Bowl, a series of dust storms could actively hurt agriculture.
The establishment of transcontinental railroads and government policies played essential roles in changing American agriculture and pushing economic growth. Document 2 demonstrates the expansion of the American railroad from 1870 to 1890. The image shows the transcontinental railroads in the 1860s, which were funded and supported by the federal government. In 1890, California was known for its fruits, vegetables, and the ‘gold rush.’ Thus, the government created an extensive railroad system in this area in order to expand the market and connect trade. The government subsidies for transportation and communication helped to connect the nation from East to West and strengthened domestic trade.
Due to the expansion of the railroad across the country, American farmers were able to participate in the worldwide market, and they focused on growing cash crops like corn and wheat to sell in the distant market. Document 3 expresses the feelings of the Western farmers with the railroad and the wish for limiting freight rates. The historical situation of this document is that the railroad monopolies had charged shipping costs and taxes so high that American farmers were in trouble. The purpose of this document is to demonstrate the farmer’s determination to influence government policy and seek to limit freight rates. As a new midwestern farmer, the author felt that farmers had faced with unfavorable government policies and unregulated business monopolies. These factors motivated them to address the issue to the Supreme Court. Farmers hoped that the Supreme Court would support the Illinois laws to limit the freight rates and help drive farmers out of debt and bankruptcy. The connection between Document 2 and Document 3 is that the Grange and the Farmer Union tried to influence the government to create a safer and more efficient system for farmers by calling for increased rail regulations and keeping stable cooperation in trade. This shows how government policy and economic conditions affected farmers’ life and changed American agriculture in the late nineteenth century.
By the end of the nineteenth century, American agriculture was significantly influenced by many factors such as technology, government policy, and economic conditions. Those factors have been reinforced to improve American society.