United States Agriculture

3163 Words7 Pages

Agriculture was the most important economic activity in America from the founding of Virginia in 1607 to about 1890. Although farming declined rapidly in relative economic importance in the twentieth century, U.S. agriculture continued to be the most efficient and productive in the world. Its success rested on abundant fertile soil, a moderate climate, the ease of private land ownership, growing markets for farm produce at home and abroad, and the application of science and technology to farm operations. The first settlers, finding that European agriculture could not easily be transferred to the new environment, adopted the Indian practices of raising corn, squash, tobacco, and other crops. From the beginning corn, grown in all the colonies, was the leading food crop. Tobacco, which was exported to earn foreign exchange, was raised mostly in Virginia and Maryland. In New England, farmers on small acreages raised corn, oats, and rye, vegetables and fruits, and livestock, especially cattle and sheep. In the central colonies of New York, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey wheat was the major crop. Farmers there were also heavy producers of livestock and animal products, as well as fruit and vegetables. Most farmers in early America were largely self-sufficient, producing enough for their family needs, but also some surplus for sale. Agriculture from Maryland, and southward, was more specialized and commercialized than in the North. Corn was the main grain and food crop, but tobacco, rice, and indigo were the principal export crops. The plantation system was developed in connection with the production of tobacco and rice, with black slaves providing much of the labor by the late seventeenth century. Cotton was grown for home use in the late eighteenth century, but because it was difficult to extract the seeds it did not become an important commercial crop until after the invention of the cotton gin by Eli Whitney in 1793. Farmers then used crude hand tools made of wood, sometimes with iron parts. Plows too might have an iron facing on the cutting edge. Planting, weeding, and harvesting were done by hand labor. Significant changes in farming began to occur at the beginning of the nineteenth century. Between the American Revolution and the Civil War, tens of thousands of farmers surged westward to settle on the rich lands of the Ohio and Mississippi valleys. [1]The... ... middle of paper ... ... S. Maxwell 29 November 2004 Thesis Statement: In early America, agriculture was a significant part of society and America’s early development. 1) Introduction: This paper will explain how America’s agriculture was developed and what roles were played to establish settlement. 2) Literature Overview: The resources use to complete the assign were Kevin Reilly, Women and the Origins of Patriarchy: Gathering, Agricultural, and Urban Societies; Elise Boulding, Women and the Agricultural Revolution, Gilbert C. Fite, American Farmers, The New Minority, John T Schelbecker, Whereby We Thrive: A History Of American Farming, Sandra Johnson, and a unknown web source. They describe in their own way how the American agriculture was established. 3) The Role of Agriculture in Early America, 1790-1824. WORKS CITED Boulding, Elise, 2004. Women and the Agricultural Revolution. New York. Fite, Gilbert C, 1981. American Farmers, The New Minority. University of South Carolina. Johnson, Sandra, 2004. http://sandrajohnson.org/slavery_histiry.html/ Schlebecker, John T, 1975. Whereby We Thrive: A History of American Farming. http://www.muslimedia.com/archives/features99/slavery.htm

Open Document