Agriculture

Printable Version

Digital History ID 3837

Age Distribution of Wisconsin Farmers, 1860
Age Proportion owning no land Land worth $1,000 or more
20-29 44 15
30-39 13 39
40-49 6 39

Questions To Think About

1. How likely were young men in Wisconsin to own land?

2. How likely were older men in Wisconsin to own no land?

Cost of Making a Farm, Western New York State, 1821
Clearing 30 acres at $10 per acre $300
Fencing $70
Log house and frame barn $200
Outhouse, well, orchard $150
1 pair oxen $50
1 horse $50
2 cows $40
2 hogs $10
10 sheep $50
Plow, harness, tools $50
Purchase 50 acres at $2 per acre $100
Essentials for family consumption before first crop $75

Total

$1,145

Questions To Think About

1. Western land has sometimes been considered a "safety valve" for American workers. Do you think that a laboring American could afford to start a farm?

2. How would a family acquire the money to start a farm?

Percentage of American Labor Force in Agriculture
1800 83 percent
1810 84 percent
1820 79 percent
1830 71 percent
1840 63 percent
1850 55 percent
1860 53 percent

Agricultural Productivity
1800 1970
Wheat
worker-hours per acre 56 3
yield per acre 15 31
Cotton
worker-hours per acre 185 24
yield per acre 147 438

Occupational Distribution
1820 1860
Agriculture 79 percent 53 percent
Mining 0.4 percent 1.6 percent
Construction -- 4.7 percent
Manufacturing 3 percent 14 percent
Trade -- 8 perccent
Transport 1.6 percent 6.4 percent
Service 4.1 percent 6.4 percent


Questions To Think About

1. Why do you think the proportion of Americans working in agriculture declined?

2. What kinds of work might non-agricultural workers do for a living?



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