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Dbq Fatmer Unhappiness Essay

1209 words - 5 pages

Trang Nguyen
AP History
January 13, 2013
Agrarian’s Discontents
The time between 1880 and 1900 was a problematic time for America. After being freed from the
Civil War, America and its citizens were finally able to live a comfortable life again. However, in the late
19th-century American farmers experienced much economic distress due to various reasons. Crops, such as
cotton and wheat, which were once the dominant crops there was in America, were selling at such low
prices that it was almost impossible for farmers to gain any profits. With the deflation in American currency
and the demonetization of silver, farmers were facing serious troubles with debts. Furthermore, with the
...view middle of the document...

Furthermore, the farmers blamed “the national
power [for enriching] bondholders...” believing that the government helped the trusts or bankers in taking
over the business line, making the farmers themselves to fall in hopeless debts (Doc A). However, that was
not the case because it was the farmers themselves that borrowed money from the trusts, relying too much

on the loan itself in order to survive. Therefore, the agrarian’s complaints toward the monopolies and trust
were invalid because the businessmen and bankers did little to harm farmers during this time.
In addition, deflation and falling prices in the late 1880s became the farmers' most bitter discontent
because of the drastic fall in values of cotton and wheat. To fight against this, Populists on election stood
on the Populists' platform in 1892 and called for unlimited silver and increased the money supply. Here, the
farmers blamed the government for not doing much in coining silver and printing more money supply. It's
true that the money supply in America was inadequate, but the farmers were wrong in their argument
thinking that demonetization of silver would solve their problems. From the United States government data
of 1961, it shows how during the years between 1865 and 1895, populations increased so much as to
double in size, and yet during those years the money in circulation drastically decreased (Doc C). The
farmers believed that the decrease in money supply was to blame for their sorrow and distress, though that
is not always the case. J. Laurence Laughlin explained that it was the farmers' fault for overproducing
products that were barely being consumed. He stated in “Causes of Agricultural Unrest” that “enlargement
of the supply without any corresponding increase of demand produced...fall in the price..which has been
made that farmer's excuse for thinking that silver is the magic panacea for all this ills..”, summarizing that
even with the coinage of silver, it won't be able to do much help for the farmer in this case because the true
problem lied with the overproduction itself (Doc E). Backing up what Laughlin said, the acceptance speech
of William McKinley emphasized further on how “free silver would not mean that silver dollars were to be
freely had without cost or labor...” (Doc B). McKinley pointed out in his speech that it was not gold nor
silver that was damaging their ways of life, but due the deflation and changes around the world that was to
blame. He expressed the fact that by coining silver it would lower inflation, which would reduced money
values and...

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