Ap Us Essay

1007 words - 5 pages

The response of farmers and industrial workers to the industrialization of the Gilded Age was mixed, although both achieved greater economic opportunity when they organized to consolidate their political power. Although industrialization modernized and improved the productivity of the American farm, farmers faced many economic challenges, such as an over supply of farm goods, international competition and lack of bargaining power, which could only be overcome when they learned to work together and consolidate their political power through organizations like the Grange or the Farmer’s Alliance. Industrial workers appreciated the growth in industries and new job opportunities, but faced low wages, dangerous work and competition from immigrants and child labor, until they were able to organize to improve their working conditions.
The farmers’ response to the industrialization of the Gilded Age took many shapes. Although industrialization made farming more productive and efficient, it also made it more difficult to make a profit. The increased production increased the supply of farm products and caused prices to fall. Advances in transportation and communication led to more international competition, which further increased the supply of farm goods. Other economic forces also impacted their situation. For example, farmers found themselves with little bargaining power as either the buyer or the seller because when they tried to sell wheat or cotton, the buyer set the price and when the tried to buy a plow point or piece of land the seller sent the price. They lacked the political clout to obtain favorable freight rates with the railroads. In addition, tariffs also worked to the farmer’s disadvantage because they increased the price of goods the farmers needed. Farmers also faced the unpredictability of nature and the weather. Similar to industrial workers, farmers knew that to effect change they needed power, and to gain power, they needed to organize. Farmers faced many issues in organizing, including the many variables that impacted their livelihood. They also were often individualists and were physically isolated from each other. Farmers also had very diverse interests depending on the size of the farm and its location, which also made organization difficult. Although it was challenging, farmers began to work together through the Granger movement, the Farmer’s Alliance and the new People’s or Populist Party. The Granger movement, called the National Grange of the Patrons of Husbandry or the Grange, started with a goal to start a social and educational response to farmer isolation, but as the organization grew they began to promote farmer- owned cooperatives for the buying and selling of crops. The Grange eventually became involved in the politics as many members pressured states to pass Granger laws, which at first seemed ineffective but later became the foundation for stronger legislation. Although the Granger movement declined, it...

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