Agricultural Business in America During the Thomas Jefferson’s Presidency


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Thomas Jefferson loved and praised all those who farmed, he had a vision of the country’s future and it involved many succeeding in the agriculture, or farming. He believed that the “American experiment in freedom” could succeed if majority of the citizens earned their money and lived off of farming goods. He believed the backbone of America was a farmer providing his family with the basic materials through his own labor, hard work, and his own land. Thomas glorified the country side, of course because farmers typically always lived in the rural setting. His vision and love for agriculture corresponded with the reality of America.

When Tomas Jefferson was elected president in 1800, about 80% of Americans were earning their livelihoods in the agricultural business. Jefferson than later came up with the Louisiana Purchase, adding 830,000 square miles of land to the United States, a lot of the land was suitable for farming. He hoped to create an “Empire for Liberty” out of rural land. Jefferson had high hopes for America, he wanted America to remain a nation of farmers and avoid huge factories and large cities. He wanted and urged Americans to import manufactured goods from Europe and to stay far from building factories. Of course, that would happen in only a perfect world… Although Jefferson portrayed the farmer’s job and life as something anyone can do, it wasn’t all rainbows and butterflies. In the essay by John Mack Faragher, he explains the hard-working labor, sweat and tears put in basically 24/7 but not only the main farmer, but his whole family. He also reveals that the farmers were less self- sufficient economically, and depended on market forces, than Jefferson expected. Farming was not as successful and great as Jefferson presumed it would be.

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Many factors contributed to farming being a slow and rough business to be in. The management of crops was in a poor state, and most farmers had simple little tools that just didn’t make the job easier at all. Roads weren’t good at all, which sky rocketed the farm-to-market costs, and hand tools were still restraining the development of agriculture. Many said, “agriculture improvement comes very slowly”, but farmers weren’t trying to find better ways to make their jobs easier for them. They continue to use their little tools and work the beaten-up way. Agriculture was not just for a single person to do and handle on their own, it required a family. Not any family, but a committed family, one who was ready to help out in their own ways and contribute towards the property and house hold. Families raised vegetables and root crops in their gardens, farmers would grow either corn, wheat, or oats on a large enclosed piece of land.

The commitment to the property and growing crops took a toll on everyone in the family, but through all that work and hard labor the family can nearly provide all its own food for themselves and their livestock. Men usually were the ones outside plowing and picking their main crop, they built and repaired anything that needed to be fixed around the property. While the women would pick small things from their garden and keep the house tidy. Both roles were equally as rough and took a toll on their bodies.

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