Growing a Nation

Historical Timeline — 1880

Economic Cycles

1879-93
Business expansion

1893-94
Widespread bankruptcies and depression

1895-06
Return of prosperity

Farm Economy

Farmers & the Land

1880
Total population: 50,155,783; farm population: 22,981,000 (est.); farmers 49% of labor force; Number of farms: 4,009,000; average acres: 134; Most humid land already settled; heavy agricultural settlement on the Great Plains begins

1880-1914
Most immigrants are from southern and eastern Europe

1887-97
Drought reduces settlement on the Great Plains

1890s
Increases in land under cultivation and number of immigrants becoming farmers boost agricultural output

1890
Total population: 62,941,714; farm population: 29,414,000 (est.); farmers 43% of labor force; Number of farms: 4,565,000; average acres: 136; Census shows that the frontier settlement is over

1891
President authorized to set aside public lands as forest reserves

Farm Machinery & Technology

1880
William Deering puts 3,000 twine binders on the market

1881
Hybridized corn produced

1884-90
Horse-drawn combine used in Pacific coast wheat areas

1888
The first long haul shipment of a refrigerated freight car was made from California to New York

1890-95
Cream separators come into wide use

1890-99
Average annual consumption of commercial fertilizer; 1,845,900 tons

1890s
Agriculture becomes increasingly mechanized and commercialized

1890
40-50 labor-hours required to produce 100 bushels (5 acres) of wheat with gang plow, seeder, harrow, binder, thresher, wagons, and horses; 35-40 labor-hours required to produce 100 bushels (2 1/2 acres) of corn with 2-bottom gang plow, disk and peg-tooth harrow, and 2-row planter

1892
The first gasoline tractor was built by John Froelich

Crops & Livestock

1880s
Cattle industry moves into the western and southwestern Great Plains

1882
Bordeau mixture (fungicide) discovered in France and soon used in U.S.; Robert Koch discovers tubercle bacillus

Mid-1880s
Texas the chief cotton State

1886-87
Blizzards, following drought and overgrazing, disastrous to northern Great Plains cattle industry

1889
Bureau of Animal Industry discovers carrier of tick fever

1890
Minnesota, California, and Illinois chief wheat States; Babcock butterfat test devised

1892
Boll weevil crosses the Rio Grande and begins to spread north and east; eradication of pleuropneumonia

1899
Improved method of anthrax inoculation

Transportation

1880
160,500 miles of railroad

1888
Meat is first shipped in railroad cars cooled by mechanical refrigeration; nearly 50 years pass before this technology is widely adopted

Agricultural Trade & Development

1880-89
Agricultural exports: $574 million/year or 76% of total exports

1890-99
Agricultural exports: $703 million/year or 71% of total exports

1890
McKinley Tariff includes many agricultural commodities

 

Life on the Farm

1895
George B. Seldon is granted U.S. patent for automobile

1896
Rural Free Delivery (RFD) started

Farm Organizations & Movements

1880-96
Agricultural pressure groups gather strength

1882
Agricultural Wheel formed

1891
Populist Party launched on national scale

1896
Height of Populist movement

Agricultural Education & Extension

1887
15 States have formally organized experiment stations; Hatch Experiment Station Act

1890's
Development of secondary agricultural education in local areas and by State

1890
Second Morrill Act broadens land-grant program and sets up funding for Black land-grant schools

1893
49 experiment stations exist under the Hatch Act

Government Programs & Policy

1889
Department of Agriculture raised to Cabinet status

1890, 1891
Meat Inspection Acts

1897
Greater emphasis given to plant exploration and to the increase of agricultural production

1889
Farmers' Alliance develops subtreasury plan

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