American History Essay
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From 1880 to 1890 farmers had to endure many hardships. For example, food prices were decreasing, which meant farmers had to produce more crops and borrow more money from the banks. The banks then charged high interest rates for loans to farmers. In addition, rail road shipping rates were increasing, farm machinery was every expensive, the farmer’s were isolated from the rest of the country, and they felt that they had an unresponsive government. The farmers believed that the deflating currency and the government’s failure to regulate the banks and railroad companies were the two main sources for their problems.
Food prices were at incredibly low prices when the 1880’s began. This led to farmers having to grow more crops, but as “Causes of Agricultural Unrest” shows, this only helped to further decrease food prices. Unfortunately, the farmers could not just produce less and wait for prices to increase because they didn’t have the time to wait for prices to increase.
The farmers believed that deflation was the cause of the food prices dropping. According to the “United Sates government data,” the farmer’s had a very valid point.
Between 1865 and 1895 the population of the United States almost doubled, while the money in circulation in 1880 was even less than in 1865. The farmers solution to the deflation was an increase in cheap money, which is also known as silver coinage. However, the Republican party had conservative ideas and wanted to keep the gold standard. So the farmers created the radical, agrarian party known as the Populist party. As shown in “The platform of the People’s party,” the Populists believed in increasing silver to help the farmers.
And although the Populists lost the election. no one remembers the “Acceptance speech of William McKinley. ” The American people remember W. J. Bryan’s Cross of Gold speech and his ideas of silver coinage. As the number of crops farmers had to produce increased, so did the amount of money the farmers had to barrow from the banks. In reaction to the increasing number of loans, the banks charged very high interest rates. These high interest hurt the poor farmers even more and often the farmers could not repay the banks.
The Farmer’s Voice” depicts hundreds of impoverished farmers in shackles, being taken to the court house because they could not pay their farm mortgages from the bank. The late 19th century was filled with political corruption and the political machine was created. In most cases, state machines were republican and favored big businesses. When railroad companies decided to increase short haul rates and decrease long haul rates, the government was not upset because the long hall rates were great for big businesses and only hurt farmers.
In the “Testimony of George W. Parker” the corruption is evident in his statement “There is a decided distinction between local and through business … different rules and practices apply to them. ” In “The Octopus,” one can see the harsh effects of the higher short haul rates on farmers. Overall, farmers had every right to be upset during the late 19th century. Their complaints about the deflation and unregulated railroad rates were valid and clearly the cause of their suffering.