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Analyze the Ways in Which Technology, Government Policy, and Economic Conditions Changed American Agriculture in the Period 1865-1900

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AP History DBQ

Analyze the ways in which technology, government policy, and economic conditions changed American agriculture in the period 1865-1900

In your answer be sure to evaluate farmer's responses to these changes.

Shifting from the Gilded age into the Progressive Era, agriculture was a key concern of the masses ad took a forefront in radical alliances and political agendas. The years of 1865 though 1900 were pivotal in the fact that there was an agricultural movement storming in America. Farmers took a radical stance and stood for what changes they wanted in the system, even though hardships like farmers not being able to communicate effectively over long distances and prevalent segregation within farmer's alliances. Through economic conditions, technology, and government policy, the agricultural sphere began to effectively transform into a powerful sector of the United States that laid the foundation for the Progressive Era.

The economic conditions of the time were rough. With decreasing commodity prices, meaning less price per crop decreasing roughly every year (doc.A), High freight rates, high tariffs, and high land prices, farmers almost always went into debt. For example, radical supporter of the agricultural movement Mary Elizabeth Lease, blamed the government parties by saying that they truly didn't care about the farmers. She states that there is "no price" for butter and eggs! Crop prices were so low that overproduction of anything hurt the farmers greatly (doc.G). Because of these bad conditions, farmers began forming alliances in response. These alliances emphasized political action (especially in the south) and offered social and recreational opportunities. One interesting thing about the alliances was that they allowed rural women to join, which was not common for the time! There was also African American alliances like the Colored Farmers National Alliance who stood for economic justice not social equality. These alliances were something new that helped change American agriculture. The biggest blow to the economic condition during this agricultural movement was the Depression of 1893. There was a panic on Wall Street and as a result 1/4 of jobs were lost in the United States. For example, in Kansas, Susan Orcutt writes of starvation and how her husband couldn't find work in "ten counties" (doc. H). The depression really affected the movement as a whole because when people are starving they try to find ANY way to make money. So, set prices that the alliances made might have been adjusted or looked over by individuals because of the need for money. It was a set back at the end of the 1800's, but overall the transformation of the agricultural sphere was great.

Moving into technology, new inventions re-created and made easier the process of transporting and growing food. For example, the refrigerated

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