Thursday, January 12, 2012

Agriculture Fueled America's Growth

The importance of agriculture during the first century of the United States can hardly be overstated. During that time, the majority of the nation's population lived and worked on farms. Feeding the country was the first necessary step to any greater achievement. Those who came to America - the German farmers whose abundant produce fed millions - laid the foundation for greatness. Historian Thomas Sowell writes:
However they came to America, and whatever their vicissitudes en route or after arriving, the early German settlers quickly established a reputation for hard work, thoroughness, and thriftiness. German farmers cleared frontier land more thoroughly than others and made it more productive. They often began by living in sod houses, then log cabins, then finally stone farmhouses. Their farm animals were not allowed to roam free but were also housed, in huge barns like those of their homeland.
The German farmers worked with attention to detail, neatness, and logical arrangements of their land and animals. Farming to maximize productivity and the land's yield was no casual or haphazard work. The sloppy image of farmers as "hillbillies" and ignorant rural bumpkins had perhaps some basis in the subsistence farming of Appalachia, but the breadbasket states productively supplying grain and meat to the continent were organized around an amazingly efficient and scientific pattern of agriculture.