Industrial Revolution in USA, social questions and comparison wie Europe

Sindane

Ad Honorem
Aug 2013
4,543
Europe
#31
I think its just a confusion in terms. When you say "Agricultural laborers" I believer you are referring to what we call 'tenant farmers' (one who doesn't own their own farm but works on someone else's land). When you say "farmer" I suspect you are referring to what we would call 'yeomen farmers' (independent farmers who own and operate their own land.

I don't think it is confusion of terms, Sindane and I agreed that a major difference was that in the US there were more yeoman farmers than tenant farmers / agricultural laborers / peasants. In Britain most of the land was owned by the aristocracy or gentry and most people doing the farm work were tenant farmers or employees.

I think Sindane's point is that many immigrants to the US implied they were independent farmers in Europe when they were really tenant farmers.

There seems to be some confusion about what an 'agricultural labourer' was. An 'ag lab' was NOT a 'farmer', tenant, renting or otherwise.
Agricultural labourers were, as the name suggests, labourers. They were hired at local markets or 'hiring fairs', usually annually or every six months, and contracted to labour on the land. They did not rent a 'farm' as their own. They lived in cottages or barns or other similar types of out buildings, with their families, who would have also been employed as labourers
Agricultural labourer ('ag lab') was still the top listed occupation on the 1851 census (England) and this was the official term that was used
 

betgo

Ad Honorem
Jul 2011
5,500
#32
So in Britain, was almost everyone doing farm work a hired laborer? What percentage were yeoman farmers or tenant farmers?

In Russia, they had serfs, who I understand to be tenant farmers who had to stay on the land.

After the Civil War, most slaves became share croppers, which meant the owner of the land, usually their former owner, got a share of their crop. There were also a several million white sharecroppers around 1900. I assumed that this was similar to the arrangement in Europe with "peasants".

In some areas of New York state, through the mid 19th century, there were large tracts of lands held by holder of Dutch aristocratic titles and tenant farmers. However,this was not mostly the arrangement in the US.

As mentioned previously, there were always large numbers of yeoman farmers. Under slavery, there were also many farmers who owned a few slaves, and the farmer and his family often worked along with the slaves. This was probably different from anything in Europe.

There was large amounts of land taken from native Americans. Pioneers went west and cleared the land. The Homestead Act, which was passed during the Civil War, having been blocked by southerners who wanted large farms with slaves, gave free land often in dry areas of the upper midwest to those who would settle it.

In the 20th century, there were large numbers of agricultural laborers, often hired seasonally to pick crops. Often they came from Mexico on seasonal visas. I believe that today a significant percentage of people doing farm work in the US are agricultural laborers.
 

Sindane

Ad Honorem
Aug 2013
4,543
Europe
#33
So in Britain, was almost everyone doing farm work a hired laborer?
Yes, that's basically what most rural workers in Britain were

What percentage were yeoman farmers or tenant farmers?
5% maybe more, maybe less? I suppose it depends on the time period and the area. It's unusual to come across an actual 'farmer' on the census. In rural areas, it's just page after page of 'ag labs'. You might get a farmer now and again, or a blacksmith, a shoe maker, a tailor and so on living in a village, but the vast majority are labourers. Same as you see a vast majority of (industrial) labourers as 'coal miners', 'weavers' and 'spinners' (working in an industrial mill on 'power' looms or frames) or 'metal rollers' and so on in the manufacturing districts

In the 20th century, there were large numbers of agricultural laborers, often hired seasonally to pick crops. Often they came from Mexico on seasonal visas. I believe that today a significant percentage of people doing farm work in the US are agricultural laborers.
Yes they would have been like the Mexicans. Hired on a seasonal basis, at 'hiring fairs' held at a local market on certain days of the year. Just about everyone in Britain has many 'ag labs' in their family tree. It is very common
 
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Sindane

Ad Honorem
Aug 2013
4,543
Europe
#34
A typical census page in an English rural area, This one is the 1861 in Kent, occupation 'ag lab' ('scholar' means a child or of school age, but it it does not mean they were in any kind of formal education. Children at this time often worked as well)






This is the 1841 census (Cumbria)

 
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betgo

Ad Honorem
Jul 2011
5,500
#35
I found currently there are 3.2 million farmers or ranchers and 0.8 million farm workers in the US. I couldn't find if there were any tenant farmers.

In 1930, there were 8.5 million tenant farmers. At that time, there were 6.2 million farms and 30 million people living on farms. At that time the majority of tenant farmers were white, but almost all blacks on farms were tenant farmers.

In the south before the Civil War, there were obviously more slaves than farmers.

I guess in Britain, the land was held by aristocrats or gentry, who would usually hire managers to supervise production and sell the crops.
 

betgo

Ad Honorem
Jul 2011
5,500
#36
In the US, it varied by region. In the upper midwest, there was a high percentage of yeoman farmers. In the south, before the Civil War, most people doing farm work were slaves. Yeoman farmers in the south generally owned mountainous or other marginal land. In the deep south, in the early 20th century, most people doing farm work were tenant farmers or sharecroppers.

I don't think there were ever large numbers of hired agricultural workers as you describe in Britain. Land ownership was not as concentrated as with the aristocratic system in Britain.
 
Jan 2010
3,983
Atlanta, Georgia USA
#37
Prior to 1932 the political divide in America was urban vs rural, not management vs labor. Labor and management both tended to vote Republican. It was the Great Depression that really broke that mold. Consequently, laws were not passed to support labor unions until the 1930s.


."
I don't agree with the first paragraph. As you can see below, the Democratic Party made gains with labor in the early 20th century.

https://ehistory.osu.edu/exhibitions/1912/labor_problem/democrat

A Brief History of Organized Labor and the Democratic Party, Part Two | Prairie Fire - The Progressive Voice of the Great Plains
 

betgo

Ad Honorem
Jul 2011
5,500
#38
As far as socialism was concerned, one factor was there was a larger lower middle class and a smaller poor masses. An example being the yeoman farmers discussed. Also, capitalism was successful in the US, and was seen as both a means of upward mobility and as contributing to general prosperity.

Communism particularly didn't go over well with its anti-religion approach. The US also has a tradition of liberty and democracy, which may not be as true in practice and theory,but conflicted with the Communist approach.
 

betgo

Ad Honorem
Jul 2011
5,500
#39
Another thing was that socialism, anarchism, communism, and so on came out of the French Revolution to a large degree. That Revolution did not have as much influence in the US. We still don't use the metric system for example. There is less of the medieval class system and such, at least outside of the south, but a lot of newer approaches didn't make it here. For example, votes in Congress are usually not on party lines.
 

Sindane

Ad Honorem
Aug 2013
4,543
Europe
#40
I found currently there are 3.2 million farmers or ranchers and 0.8 million farm workers in the US. I couldn't find if there were any tenant farmers.

In 1930, there were 8.5 million tenant farmers. At that time, there were 6.2 million farms and 30 million people living on farms. At that time the majority of tenant farmers were white, but almost all blacks on farms were tenant farmers.

In the south before the Civil War, there were obviously more slaves than farmers.

I guess in Britain, the land was held by aristocrats or gentry, who would usually hire managers to supervise production and sell the crops.

I've been browsing EP Thompson again and thought of this thread.

This is a footnote from his TMOTEWC. Chapter 7 'The Field Labourers'

'1. The 1831 census [England/Wales] showed 961,000 families employed in agriculture [not 'farmers'] - 28% of all families in Great Britain'

These would be the 'ag labs'


Something I didn't mention though was the regional differences in agricultural labour. William Cobbett in his Rural Rides writes about the difference's between the English counties. That 'ag labs' were more common in the southern counties of England.
 

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