History USA- Part one 1865-1890 - economic growth and development

  • Economic growth in gilded age was spectacular enough - pushed US to front of world's economy
  • economic legacy of the civil war was different for various regions; North-war stimulated business and brought bringing rapid modernisation; West-opened way for economic exploitation & land settlement; South-war represented loss and destruction, and most important economic impact was abolition of slavery destroying foundations of S economy.
  • Years after civil war agriculture was important and still growing
  • over half the pop. lived rural (people on farmers rose from 10million in 1865 - 25 million in 1890)
  • industrialisation developed, pop. grew, rail expanded, more+ land under cultivation (number of farms doubled) - process encouraged by fed. gov. Homestead act of 1862 which made hundreds of thousands of acres free for settlers
  • rail bought up large tracts making big profits selling the land to settlers
  • 1865 most farms were household/small but was increase in large-scale agriculture and new markets assisted by technology of refrigeration and new machines like reapers, thrashers and wire binders
  • Department of Agriculture carried out research & encouraged agricultural colleges
  • farmers had little control over prices and depended on finance from banks, rail companies and local merchants for investment and to get products to distant markets
  • they were vulnerable to fluctuations of market - an example is the period of depression after 1873 Panic
  • N&E's agri. benefitted from expanding markets in growing towns and cities
  • 1880s cities like Chicago were hubs of a wide distribution network - shipped meat products, cereal, canned foods to urban N/E and timber to construction of Great Plains
  • Wisconsin was dairy production centre
  • Rail were essential to this process, despite being monopolies and setting freight rates too high
  • Agriculture was dependent on market forces it couldn't control
  • 'King Cotton' still ruled the South
  • political battles over reconstruction failed to break down traditional structures of S
  • Small farmers (white & A-A) were in a difficult situation, unable to buy/keep their own land. falling back to tenant farmers, struggled to gain loans/ get produce to markets directly without being controlled or exploited by Big Business
  • economic development in 'New South' - rail expansion, cotton/tobacco/sugar remained major commodities, trade and shipping expanded (ports like Mobile in Alabama)
  • S did lag behind rest of country, fewn immigrants settled here
  • 1879 thousands of black farmers moved away to Kansas searching for greater opps.
  • Homestead Act 1862 accelerated movement to West
  • first transcontinental Railroad, Union Pacific, finished in 1869
  • conquest and colonisation of Native lands virtually complete by 1877 - vast open lands carved up by rail, ranches, farmes and mining towns
  • W development driven above all by land hungry settlers seeking homesteads
  • Vast tracks were brought under cultivation in states such as Nebraska
  • 1889 thousands raced to acquire farms in Oklahoma land rush in response to Congress granting 2 million acres of Indian land as free 
  • rail played a key role - transported homesteaders, lent them money to acquire land and took cash crops (wheat) in return
  • One key factor of rapid settlement was…


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