Economic Events of the Late Nineteenth Century Worksheet


Instructions: Chose a role: African-American Sharecropper in the South, Exoduster, New York Banker, Midwestern Farmer, Railroad Magnate, Factory Laborer, or Silver Miner. Write a 1 page essay from the perspective of your chosen role where you describe your reaction to the various events listed on this page (what it would mean to you). Depending on which role you chose, you may not feel the need to respond to every item on this list.


Ex: As a Midwestern Farmer, in response to the 1860s-1880s increased cost of mechanized agricultural production, my costs would increase and I would likely have to borrow money to purchase the necessary equipment. [Continue on with a discussion of how declining agricultural prices impact you…]


1862 — Homestead Act granted 160 acres on the plains for a small price if they buyer occupied and improved it for five years.


1860s-70s — major railroad network development


1869 — 1st transcontinental railroad completed


1860s-80s — increased mechanization (and cost) of agricultural production


1860s-70s — agricultural prices declined because of increased production


1860s-70s — railroad freight prices often set higher for short hauls than long, cost for moving goods to market fixed by the railroads and at odds with farming interests


1870s — Granger laws enacted controlling railroad freight rates (later declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in the 1886 Wabash, St. Louis, and Pacific Railway Co. v. Illinois)


1873 — Gold Resumption Act officially demonetized silver


1873 — economic panic; major Eastern corporations and financial institutions fail


1878 — Bland-Allison Act remonetized silver


1873-1882 — Comstock Lode: silver ore found at Mount Davidson in western Nevada


1879-1890 — cotton boom: cotton production in the South increased, while the price for cotton fell


1880s — drought in the plains states


1890 — Sherman Silver Purchase Act enacted which mandated the U.S. Treasury purchase pretty much the maximum domestic production of silver each month


1893 — economic panic and depression


1893 — Sherman Silver Purchase Act repealed