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How Urban Life Affected Farmers Essay

654 words - 3 pages

Urban life was exciting in the 1890’s as huge cities expanded outward and upward. Technological advancements made jobs plentiful, and lives easier. But not everybody was satisfied with the changes occurring around them. As millions of Americans flocked to cities in search of better lives, the farmers’ agricultural lifestyle was being threatened; the farmers’ diminishing social prestige allowed them to be taken advantage of in situations such as the shipping of their crops; pro-farmer politics such as bimetallism failed to gain a foothold in the federal government; and most importantly, economic failures, caused by overproduction and other means, threatened the farmers’ way of life.
As farmers began to lose both status and power socially, other Americans saw opportunities to take advantage of them. Firstly, eastern businessmen took advantage of these farmers (doc D). One example of this was the sharecropping system. Farmers bought clothes and other goods on credit in exchange for giving up a portion of their crops. If a farmer did not have a good year, he would end the harvest in debt, and thus be legally obligated to continue sharecropping. A second way farmers were taken advantage of was with train companies (doc G). As farmers required these companies to transport their goods, the companies could charge outrageous amounts for their services. It was common for shorter distances of travel to cost more money than longer ones. A final way that farmers were taken advantage of was with the laissez-faire policy of government (doc F). This policy of keeping the economy free of government interference was hugely detrimental to farmers as it gave big business unprecedented power, which they did not hesitate to abuse. It is only due to the lack of government control that farmers were able to be taken advantage of by both eastern businessmen and railroad companies.
The political failures of pro-farmer politicians ensured the farmers continued bullying by eastern businessmen. The Populist Party, the most powerful supporter of the farmers, was...

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