The Farmer's Last Frontier: Agriculture, 1860-1897

The Farmer's Last Frontier: Agriculture, 1860-1897

The Farmer's Last Frontier: Agriculture, 1860-1897

The Farmer's Last Frontier: Agriculture, 1860-1897


In this volume I have not written a history of the technical advances in agriculture, though such a work for the years since 1860 is badly needed. Instead, I have tried to view the scene as the farmer saw it and to picture the farmer himself as he affected and was influenced by the world in which he worked and lived.

Before 1860 farming, for the most part, had passed beyond the subsistence phase and had become commercial. In the next forty years agriculture reached out to its last frontier within the limits of the ultimate forty-eight states. The effects of this movement, and the reactions of farmers and herdsmen to their restricted migrations when there were no longer any large new areas to occupy with any reasonable hope of success, had their influence on agriculture, and on the whole economy, throughout the nation. Without denying that other approaches to the subject have ample justification, I have chosen to leave their pursuit to other writers, in the conviction that the rounding out of the agricultural limits was fundamental to all other changes.

The bibliography contains only such items as I found most useful in my studies, and I have no further apologies for anything I included or omitted, save this one point: of the publications that have appeared since the completion of the first draft of the manuscript, I have listed only such ones as I found of service in the revision.

Much of the credit for such virtues as the book may contain must go to my coeditors, for their diligence, suggestions, and criticisms. If I have sometimes insisted on being myself, and have clung to pet crotchets, it is not for lack of abundant advice to the contrary, and I alone am to blame. Though a large number of students have assisted me in combing for facts through tons of material, not one word of their discoveries was used until I had examined it at its source and noted its context. Any errors in the book are solely my own. Of all the assistance I have received none is more appreciated than that of my wife, Edna Jones, who for thirty years has been sympathetic with the erratic time schedule and house littering of a confirmed researcher, and who in this case, as previously, has done more than her share of the work of proofreading and indexing.


Champaign, Illinois January 25, 1945 . . .

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