Growing a Nation

Historical Timeline — 1860

Economic Cycles

1861-65
Civil war prosperity and inflation

1866-67
Postwar recession

1868-1873
Railroad boom

1873-78
Depression and deflation

Farm Economy

1865-1900
Greenbackers and later Populists, representing debtors, fight deflation, high freight rates, and monopoly; these issues partly indicate a shift of power from agrarian to commercial interests after the Civil War

1869
Louis McMurray contracts with farmers near Frederick, MD for vegetables to be canned in his factory, the beginning of vertical integration

1873
Silver demonetized in so-called Crime of '73

Farmers & the Land

1860
Total population: 31,443,321; farm population: 15,141,000 (est.); farmers 58% of labor force; Number of farms: 2,044,000; average acres: 199

1862
Homestead Act grants 160 acres to settlers who have worked the land 5 years

1865-70
Sharecropping system in the South replaces the old slave plantation system 1865-90 Influx of Scandinavian immigrants

1866-77
Cattle boom accelerates settlement of Great Plains; range wars develop between farmers and ranchers

1870
Total population: 38,558,371; farm population: 18,373,000 (est.); farmers 53% of labor force; Number of farms: 2,660,000; average acres: 153

Farm Machinery & Technology

1862-75
Change from hand power to horses characterizes the first American agricultural revolution

1865-75
Gang plows and sulky plows come into use

1868
Steam tractors are tried out

1869
Spring-tooth harrow for seedbed preparation appears

1870s
Silos and deep-well drilling come into use

1874
Glidden barbed wire patented; fencing of rangeland ends era of unrestricted, open-range grazing

Crops & Livestock

1860s
Cotton Belt begins to move westward; Corn Belt begins stabilizing in its present area

1860
Wisconsin and Illinois chief wheat States

1866-89
Era of the Great Plains cattlemen

1870s
Increased specialization in farm production; Illinois, Iowa, and Ohio chief wheat States; foot-and-mouth disease first reported in the United States

1874-76
Grasshopper plagues in the West
1877 U.S. Entomological Commission established for work on grasshopper control

Transportation

1860
30,000 miles of railroad

1869
Illinois passes first designated "Grander" law regulating railroads; Union Pacific, first transcontinental railroad, completed

1870s
Refrigerator cars introduced, increasing national markets for fruits and vegetables

Agricultural Trade & Development

1860-69
Agricultural exports: $182 million/year or 75% of total exports

1865-80
Wheat exports increase sharply

1870-79
Agricultural exports: $453 million/year or 79% of total exports

1871
Horace Capron mission to develop Japanese agriculture

Life on the Farm

1860s
Kerosene lamps become popular

1865-90
Sod houses common on the prairies

Farm Organizations & Movements

1860
941 agricultural societies in the United States

1867
National Grange organized

1871
National Grange sanctions cooperative enterprise

1873-76
Granger movement at its height

1874-80
Farmers' Alliance movement begins

Agricultural Education & Extension

1862
The drive for agricultural education culminates in the passage of the Morrill Land Grant College Act

1870s
Many State colleges of agriculture begin experimental work

1874
Chautauqua system founded in New York

1875
Agricultural experiment stations established in Connecticut and California

Government Programs & Policy

1862
U.S. Department of Agriculture set up without Cabinet status

1870s
A few States begin to inspect dairy products

1874
Georgia sets up the first State Department of Agriculture

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