Federalized Farming: The United States Department of Agriculture Sprouted 150 Years Ago, during the Lincoln Administration, and Has since Grown Enormous, Fertilized Annually by Washington

By Terrell, Rebecca | The New American, July 9, 2012 | Go to article overview

Federalized Farming: The United States Department of Agriculture Sprouted 150 Years Ago, during the Lincoln Administration, and Has since Grown Enormous, Fertilized Annually by Washington


Terrell, Rebecca, The New American


Abraham Lincoln instituted the United States Department of Agriculture 150 years ago. It began as a nine-employee information agency charged with research and development responsibilities and commodity plant distribution. This mere seedling bureau would grow into a government leviathan that today manipulates not only agriculture and rural development but also various aspects of our economic, environmental, education, healthcare, and foreign policies.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Its growth would have been easy to predict. The Agricultural Organic Act that Lincoln signed on May 15, 1862, established USDA, authorizing it to conduct research and development related to "agriculture, rural development, aquaculture and human nutrition in the most general and comprehensive sense of those terms." (Emphasis added.) Such ambiguous wording invited the rampant regulatory expansion of the next 150 years.

Today USDA dubs itself "an Every Way, Every Day Department," bragging that it "touches the lives of every American, as well as people across the globe." Its marketing materials advertise that USDA supports agricultural communities and economy; protects and conserves natural resources; sends foreign aid around the world; and provides a safe, sufficient, and nutritious domestic food supply.

USDA Origins in Lincoln's Agenda

To understand USDA's true nature it is helpful to have a grasp of the radical political landscape into which the agency was born. Prior to Lincoln's presidential administration, citizens of the United States enjoyed decentralized, limited government framed by the Founding Fathers. During the first 70 years of the nation's history, Congress repeatedly defended the populace against numerous bills intended to unconstitutionally expand federal power. Lincoln's election brought an end to this era.

At its founding, USDA was one-of-a-kind. It was the first department focused on a particular segment of the population. Incredibly and irrationally, private industry farmers suddenly became a special interest group of federal welfare recipients.

USDA's novelty was perfectly in keeping with Lincoln's other policies. As President he suspended habeas corpus (which enables prisoners to be released from unlawful detention) in all states. He thereby imprisoned political adversaries without trial in the North, such as his arrest of pro-Confederate Maryland legislators in September of 1861 to prevent the state from voting to secede. He ordered invasion of the South without congressional approval, declared martial law, and confiscated private property and firearms. He even had a member of Congress deported to Canada for disagreeing with his policies.

Throughout his administration Lincoln maintained a characteristic disregard for the Constitution. From his earliest campaigning days in Illinois he declared himself in favor of a strong, centralized federal government based on a national bank, special-interest subsidies, and high tariffs. In his book The Real Lincoln, author Thomas J. DiLorenzo points out that the focus of Honest Abe's entire political career was protectionism, federal control of the money supply, and "internal improvements" (i.e., corporate welfare) for private business. He writes that these three planks, ushered in during the War Between the States, resulted in a political patronage system that favors special-interest groups at the expense of taxpayers, stifling the economy but forwarding political careers.

Lincoln found in the War Between the States a rationale to suspend constitutional liberties and establish a highly centralized federal government. In addition to the war, the country suffered rampant federal infringements from the hand of Lincoln, including a central bank and the nation's first income tax, decades prior to the adoption of the 16th (income tax) Amendment in 1913.

His USDA was just the thing to curry political favor with farmers, who made up 50 percent of the population and whose products accounted for 80 percent of national exports in 1862, according to Wayne Rasmussen with the Agricultural History Society. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Federalized Farming: The United States Department of Agriculture Sprouted 150 Years Ago, during the Lincoln Administration, and Has since Grown Enormous, Fertilized Annually by Washington
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.