In 1837, congress established a relationship forsilver and gold with a ratio of 16 to 1, which means 16 ounces of silver isequivalent to 1 ounce of gold.
Around the time of war during the 1860s, therewasn’t much silver being mined so the open market price rose drastically.Miners stopped selling gold to the government and started selling to buyers ofthe ranks of jewelers and other buyers that use the product. In 1873, the Grantadministration realized what was happening in the marketing world and demonetizedsilver leaving gold as the main standard for the nations currency. Silverbecame another common item with the value set by supply and demand. Therewasn’t much reaction to the move and no huge outrage.
Although with the Panicof 1873, a bad depression came upon the country, bringing back interest inmonetizing silver. Pressure was exerted (or put forth) from 2 differentsources. 1st was the silver miners (industrialists.)Coincidentally, around the same time silver was demonetized, there were silverdiscoveries in the west. As that fresh silver was being sold in way largergroups, the price dropped.
Mine operators remembered the good things abouthaving a ready market throughout the government and started to remember thedemonetization as the “Crime of 73.” There was still some interest in miningthough. The mining interests were a small force, but they found that they couldincrease their clout by making an alliance with the farmers. 2nd was the farmers usually the farmers were indebt depending upon banks for funding to purchase things like seed and otherequipment that farmers would use in the 1860s-1870s and in the spring they wouldhope for a successful harvest to pay off their debt in the fall. Sadly, in the1870s the farmers saw a really bad drop in prices that made matters even worsein their already poor situation. Here is a deeper explanation of both thefarmer and the industrialist sides. Asagriculture grew less and less rewarding, many farm owners lost their farms duetoo not being able to repay bank loans and all of their mortgages wereforeclosed on or they were unable to pay their tax liabilities resulting intheir farms being auctioned off.
During the Gilded Age, man more farmers losttheir land and fell back on the agricultural ladder down to tenant farming,sharecropping, and the crop-lien system. Tenant farmers rented out otherpeople’s land to farm on for money. Since there was a small amount of money,(especially in the south after the loss of the Civil War), farmers withoutproperty would rent out other people’s land and then at the end of the growingseason they would give up a predetermined share of what they grew as thepayment of using other people’s land – 1/3 of any cotton crop and ¼ of anygrain crop. Since food and clothing were primary during the growing season andbecause of poverty and scarcity of money in countryside places, the crop-liensystem emerged and spread during the Gilded Age and beyond. A share croppercould find food, clothing, and other crucial needs of life on credit fromeither a property owner or credit merchant during the growing season In returnfor a fair lien against any share of the crop in field, was plentiful to meetthe credit they were extended plus interest.
The possessor of land or creditmerchant charged a credit purchase price that was approximately 60% higher thancash purchase price. Interest rates were generally undefined until the end ofthe growing season but averaged nearly 25% annually. By the time crops grew, itwas all gone to the land owner for the right to farm on the land and to thecredit merchant for food and clothing. Indeed, most sharecroppers under thecrop-lien system ended the year in debt due to the credit merchants, and theywere thus legally obligated to continue the relationship the next year to payoff debt. Year after year the landless farmer fell deeper in debt.
Many endedup trapped in large amounts of debt for life. The system hurt all the morebecause the credit merchant could dictate the crop that would be grown bycroppers he or she extended the credit to. In the South, that meant cottonbecause the it was a non-perishable item and could be sold anywhere at adifferent price.
This, however, exacerbated the problem of over production anddepressed the price of cotton even more. It was an endless cycle. One of themany factors most difficult for farmers to deal with was the understanding thata rural and agricultural America took over by farmers had given way to an urbanand industrial American taken over by those interests. Farmers no longer controlled the socialeconomics or political systems and this was bad news. Next is the industrialists. Did you know that farmingcaused A LOT of health problems? Itdoesn’t seem like it would affect the industrialist but it actually does abunch.
Industrial farming is unsafe for the health of workers, eaters, anddownstream neighbors. Here are 2 costly health impacts: Pesticide toxicity: Herbicides and insecticides frequentlyused in agriculture have been connected with both acute poisoning and long-termchronic illness, and Water Pollution:from fertilizer runoff contaminating downstream drinking watersupplies, requiring costly cleanup measures with an annual price tag of about$2 billion. That is a whole load of money taken away from helping out on othermain important things like markets and things like that. Another problem that seems unlikely isactually damage to farmlands and rural environment. The soils of the AmericanCorn Belt were once worshipped and celebrated for their fertility. Butindustrial farming treats the fertility as something that should be tapped, butnot maintained. This leads to all kinds of costly things such as Depletion: Monoculture exhaustsoil fertility, requiring costly applications of chemical fertilizers.
Theneverything is super unhealthy and fake, Irrigation: Soil used to grow annual rowcrops and then left bare for much of the year having poor drought resistance,increasing irrigation costs, Erosion:Monoculture degrades soil structure and leaves it more vulnerable to erosion,resulting in costs for soil replacement, cleanup, and lost farmland value andfinally, Lost biodiversity:Industrial farms don’t support the rich range of life that more diverse farmsdo. As a result, the land suffers from a shortage of the ecosystem services,such as pollination, that a more diverse landscape offers. Now is social andeconomic impacts. The pressure to “go big or go home” is fundamental toindustrial agriculture-and takes a toll on communities. 2 social economicimpacts are Loss of mid-sized farms: Once thebackbone of US agriculture, medium-sized farms are a dwindling breed, whichmeans that fewer and fewer Americans make their living as farmers- a trend thathas been bad for the economies of rural communities and farm states, and Harm to neighboring and downstreameconomies: Industrial can pack an economic wallop hundreds of milesfrom its origin- just ask local governments and utility managers who mustinstall expensive equipment to remove fertilizer by-products from publicdrinking water supplies.
Or ask people who make their living from fisheries ortourism on the Gulf of Mexico and elsewhere, where “dead zones” and toxic algaeblooms caused by farm runoff do damage with an annual price tag in thebillions. CAFOs, too, create pollution problems that reduce livability anddepress property values in surrounding communities. With all of the differentbad affects listed above, the price to fix all of that would most likely beover $10 billion. Think of all of that money going to the industrialistsinstead of the agricultural problems farming is creating and what great thingsit could do for the economy and neighboring economies.
Inthe end, farming costed a lot more and did a ton more damage thanindustrialists did. But what we have all been waiting for is how they resolvedall of these problems and came to a solution that would benefit both the most.The farmers would get better equipment and better farming tools and land togrow and they would get more money from the government for all of the thingsthat they needed. As for the industrialists, they would benefit from thefarmers getting the special things that they need because they would get lessand less damage from the poor farming and damage costs would drastically godown from the billions and billions of dollars it was before resulting in moremoney being able to go to the economy and other neighboring economies somarkets can keep producing items and getting more items to sell.
Aftereverything is fair, all is well. It just took some time and effort to get aneven decision on what should change, what should stay the same, and how itwould benefit everyone in the end.