What Were the Economic Problems American Farmers Confronted in the 1890s?
The main problems American farmers faced in the 1890s included the steady decline of prices due to foreign competition and domestic overproduction, and the high rates charged by railroads and grain elevator operators to transport and store grains. These problems often led to debt and the crisis of the 1890s.
In the decades after the Civil War, American farmers faced a period of acute and persistent political unrest. To stop the continuous deterioration of their economic status, farmers formed various interest groups, cooperatives, and political parties. The first group was The Grange of Patrons of Husbandry, founded in 1860s, followed by the Greenback Party in the 1870s, the Farmers’ Alliance in 1880s and the Populist Party in the 1890s. The latter was the most ambitious step that aimed to challenge the domination of the Democratic and Republican parties. The main demands of the farmers were ceilings on interest rates, a change in the pricing of monopolistic grain elevators and railroads, public boards to mediate foreclosure proceedings and the increase of the money supply by the U.S. Treasury. Many of these demands were ignored by Congress, but on the whole the unrest of the 1890s had lasting consequences concerning the development of the American economy.