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

By Fred A. Shannon | Go to book overview

CHAPTER X
Finance and Marketing Problems of the Range Country

CREDIT RELATIONS, CYCLES, AND PROFITABILITY

THOUGH individualism was almost the universal creed of American farmers, nowhere else was it more strikingly exemplified after 1860 than in the range country. There is nothing surprising in this fact, for dependence on himself and nature had been an outstanding characteristic of the pioneer on every preceding frontier, and this was the last of the series. Yet, on no earlier frontier had the actual need of cooperative enterprise been more evident, as the preceding chapter should have disclosed. Though the stockman may have felt that he led a wholly self-sufficient and satisfying life, he was actually as dependent on conditions outside his control as was the Southern cotton grower. The cattleman got his hat from Connecticut, his gloves from New York, his overalls and shirts from Eastern sweatshops, his boots from Massachusetts, his socks and underwear from Pennylvania, his saddle, bridle, spurs, rifle, revolver, and even his rope from various distant Eastern localities. Surrounded by cattle, he imported canned milk for his coffee. Rarely did he grow any food except meat. He even waited till he arrived at some Eastern shipping point, such as Kansas City, to go on a protracted drunk. Perhaps it was not the " rootin, tootin, shootin" variety. Perhaps the whiskey was of a higher grade than that of the range-town saloon. But the testimony is that it was satisfying. The stockman was also wholly dependent on the rail-

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