Farmer DBQ

Corrine Mullins
Period 6
February 3,2000


During the span of 1880-1900 farmers began to feel as if their ways of life were being threatened. Farmers felt that a competition with railroads in monopolies and trusts, currency circulation shortage, and the powerful forces of Mother Nature seemed to be putting them in debt or even out of business. However, not all of the currency circulation shortage complaints could be brought up against the government, monopolies, and trusts. Over production, and bad weather accounted for these problems, which made the farmers complaint\'s not completely valid.

Competition was a major contributing factor to farmer discontent. Farmers were constantly competing with monopolies and trusts. Railroads were putting most farmers in the brink of bankruptcy. Groups formed to help the farmers like The Grange tried to get some relief from monopolies, but they were just too influential. It came to a halt when the Wabash case made by the Supreme Court said that groups like the Grange had no power to regulate interstate commerce. (f) Monopolies were dictating the way the farming industry was as a whole. (h) Farmers sent their products all over the country in order to receive profit, but it was virtually impossible to ever make any money when the charge for use of the railroad system, was more than the farmer could make. (g) Still, the railroads saw nothing morally wrong with charging the farmers in the way they did. The government tried to help out by establishing The Sherman-Anti Trust Act, and the Interstate Commerce Act. The Sherman-Anti trust act was intended to help farmers mobilize against monopolies such as the railroad system, but was not very successful. The Interstate Commerce Act was made to stabilize the economy, helping the farmers avoid the railroad warpath, but only foreshadowed doom in the government trying to protect a private enterprise. The farmers were pretty much defenseless against the monopoly system of the railroad, and were sent into a state of perpetual debt.

Another major cause of discontent for the farmers was the deflation of prices. The deflation of prices was extremely crucial, because it put the farmers in a high state of debt. (c) The farmers blamed the fact that there was a shortage of money in circulation in the U.S. during that particular period of time. When the Sherman Silver Purchase Act of 1890 was passed, farmers looked at it as an opportunity to possibly get out of debt. Farmers clamored greatly for the unlimited coinage of silver. It was believed that if there was a large amount of money circulating it would make high prices, and eventually the farmers would be able to pay off their debts. This tariff let the republicans think they could bring up a new tariff, which only added to the already existing problems. The McKinley Tariff bill added new duties on manufactured goods. The Republicans thought they could reap some money from a tariff, but they were wrong. What was intended to stiffen the market and make it virtually impossible for the foreign market to compete with American soil, only rose in dishonesty and voters wrath. (b) Silver coinage did not make (a) farming more profitable, or any less laborious, it just added to depletion of values, and a push towards the establishment of an absolute despotism.

Mother Nature and her wrath was yet another cause for discontent. There were many incidents that brought the number of farms down to a small amount. From clouds of grasshoppers that left "nothing but the mortgage", to floods that made the lush land into nothing more than erosion waste, only to be followed by a long succession of droughts, upset the already agitated farmers. As if the farmers didn\'t have it bad enough, they were still harassed by their government-local, state, and national. Land was taken away from the farmers, and they were heavily taxed. People in the east reaped the benefits. (d) It was as if the West was full of slaves, paying a constant debt to their masters of the East. Farmers felt like they were going to forever be at the mercy of the harvester trust, the barbed-wire trust, the fertilizer trust, and the railroads.

The government was not to blame for all