The Journal of Political Economy, Volume XLIX, Number 3, June 1941: 317-359.



Lehigh University

The fundamental importance to American economic development of the settlement of the federal landed domain is among the axiomatic propositions of economic history. The recognition of this relationship of land to the economic development of the United States has encouraged widespread acceptance of the more specific dictum that the opportunities provided by the easily available western lands strongly influenced, if they did not actually determine, the course of development of the American wage-earning classes. The theory has been widely accepted that the western lands drew off eastern labor whenever eastern industrial conditions were unsatisfactory, and in this way western lands performed the function of a safety valve for socio-economic conflict. Recent debate indicates that this interpretation remains an unproved hypothesis.1 Particular importance [318] attaches to this view because the disappearance of this alleged safety valve, as a result of the settlement of the public domain, is often considered a turning-point in the industrial history of the United States and is occasionally used to buttress arguments favoring the adoption of economic reforms.

The assumptions upon which the safety-valve theory rests are few and simple. It is assumed, in the first place, that under certain conditions such as those of depression and unemployment, onerous working conditions, and unsatisfactory wages, labor found it desirable to take advantage of the opportunities afforded by the cheap western lands; in the second place, that wage labor could if it so wished participate with little difficulty in the exploitation of this land; and, third, that labor acted upon this opportunity in significant numbers. The present study proposes to examine the validity of the second of these assumptions by an examination of the costs of farm-making as well as of the ability of wage labor to meet such costs. Our study is confined to the conditions existing in the decade 1850-60 -- a decade in which agriculture, particularly in the northern states, under the impact of a spreading network of railroad communications and the rapid introduction of new agricultural implements, emerged entirely from its earlier self-sufficiency into a maturely capitalistic, profit-seeking, and market-focused system.2


At the outset we must appreciate that the economic aspects of pioneering and its relations to the larger economic life of the nation are not to be understood without adequate analysis of the [319] costs which the farmer and farm-maker faced. The editor of the New England Cultivator in 1852 succinctly indicated a factor in the agriculture of his period that the economic historian may not safely overlook: "No error is more universal than for Tyros in farming operations to suppose that the business of farming may be pursued without means and that first crops may be obtained from the soil without additions."3 Farm-making in the 1850's, whether carried out on the prairie or in forested areas, in the North or in the South, at the frontier of settlement or in well-settled regions, involved a variety of costs which were definite and inescapable. To a degree these costs might be met by the labor and sacrifice of the farm-maker and his family, but this was less possible in the fifties than it had been in the preceding decades. The would-be farm-maker had to acquire land and then prepare it for cultivation, which involved fencing and clearing or breaking; he had to possess draft animals and livestock, seed, and implements with which to conduct farming operations; he had to procure transportation to the West; and he had to build a shelter for his family and to support them through the waiting period until the first crops were harvested. Certain if not all of these were costs which had to be met with money outlays, and any would-be farm-maker consequently found the possession of some capital essential.

The fact that capital was required as a preliminary condition for undertaking agriculture is reiterated continuously in the agricultural literature of the period.4 Condemnation of the futility of acquiring land without the possession of capital adequate to work [320] it constantly recurs.5 Though a distinction was commonly made between "farming" and "making farms" the necessity for capital was fully recognized in either case. The sums considered necessary to carry on farming operations were surprisingly large.6 [321] Similarly, though the numerous writers describing the opportunities of the West generally addressed their observations to the "poor man" examination of their meaning reveals that their remarks were clearly not directed at the impoverished; they wrote in terms of persons of limited or moderate means,7 and their discussions invariably took for granted the possession of some capital.8 Large [322] sums of capital actually did accompany immigrants to the farm-making frontiers.9 Individuals who lacked what these writers considered adequate funds were singled out for special attention. It was pointed out to them that the West offered opportunities for employment and savings which might eventually lead to the ownership of a farm. Foreign immigrants in particular were told that agricultural wage employment in the West provided them [323] an opportunity for learning American methods as well as for accumulating funds. It was suggested to farmers that they could rent improved farm lands on shares and, after four or five years, proceed to purchase their own lands with their savings.10 They might alternatively contract to improve, on a share arrangement, wild lands owned by someone else11 or might bid for the lease of state-owned lands.12 In any case they could accept agricultural employment for wages.13 Wage employment in the rapidly growing [324] western towns and cities was frequently pictured to eastern mechanics as providing excellent opportunities to share in the growth of the West, since labor was in demand and wages were high.14 Even schoolteaching was suggested as a method by which the property less person might gain a foothold in the West.15

Considerable information regarding the amount of capital which was considered necessary to the undertaking of western farm-making is to be had from contemporary sources. Nathan Parker, an Iowa land agent and author of a series of western [325] guidebooks, quotes with approval an estimate that a capital of at least $1,000 was necessary to equip an 80-acre western farm, exclusive of the land.16 Another observer wrote with reference to Illinois that "any man who wants to commence farming on the prairies must be possessed of means and energy, and not expect to make a fortune too easy. A section of land requires about $5,000 cash to commence profitably, while it will require all of the half of that sum to farm a quarter section as it should be done."17 Fred Gerhard cites a number of instances of 80-acre Illinois farms which required investments of from $785 to $2,127 to produce first crops.18 It was asserted with reference to Texas that "any man with $500 can become an independent farmer . . . ."19 though such a capital was certainly a minimum figure; and Frederick Law Olmsted wrote, in contrast, that "a labouring man, who has not one thousand dollars at command will probably find his account in first accumulating that sum by working for others."20 Elsewhere it was pointed out, also with reference to Texas, that "for success as a cattle raiser the emigrant needs from six to ten thousand dollars."21 The editor of the Country Gentleman, in reply to an inquiry, advised several young mechanics who possessed capitals of from $700 to $1,400 each against buying new lands to farm.22 [326]

Among foreign travelers reporting on this matter, Stirling suggested to his English countrymen that £200 would secure a start in Iowa; more might permit settlement in Illinois or possibly in Ohio.23 Cunynghame advised a capital of £300 for transportation to and establishment on an 80-acre farm in the Des Moines valley of Iowa.24 It was estimated by still another writer that $955 would buy a 200-acre farm, break and fence 60 acres, and build a log cabin and other small buildings.25 Regan considered the sum of $550 an absolute minimum for an English immigrant designing to settle in the West.26 An English traveler whose interest was specifically in American lands wrote that "an intelligent, prudent man, with five hundred pounds in his pocket, may rely on finding that sum sufficient to start him successfully on 320 acres of prairie land, if he avails himself of this credit system," land purchase not being provided for in this sum. He goes on to note that "a man with his wife and four children could not [327] transport himself and them from this country to Illinois and place himself comfortably even on a forty acre farm for less than [328] £100."27 The estimates here quoted as well as others are itemized in Table 1.28


Estimated Costs of Farm-making: 1850-60
(Contemporary Observers)

Location Total Cost Size Acres Land Cost Breaking Fencing Seeding Harvesting Livestock Provisions Buildings Other
Californiaa $2,000 640 $800 $ t $600 $ t $500 $100 $ * $ t
Californiab 3,000 40 400 1,400 200 700 300
Illinoisc 550 40 50 100 20 140 50 20 170
Illinoisd 785 80 100 130 320 40 195
Illinoise 896 34 170 87 100 468 71
Illinoisf 920 200 320 173 100 27
Illinoisg 93O 45 500 20 140 220
Illinoish 1,411 80 360 150 400 145 456
Illinoisi. 2,100 160 1,000 400 400 300
Illinoisj 2,127 80 1,200 175 320 236 196
Illinoisk 2,290 320 240 1,500 * * * 550
Illinoisl 2,750 160 1,600 225 400 500 25
Illinoism 2,800 IOO 1,000 1,250 * * * 550
Illinoisn 12,200 640 6,400 1,300 1,200 800 2,500
Iowao 440 40 50 80 160 150
Iowap 850 160 200 320 320
Iowaq 1,034 80 310 450 374
Iowar 1,500 80 250 75 75 75 200 100 100 55O
Iowas 2,650 160 200 600 600 150 200 650 250
Iowat 3,000 400 1,400 180 300 305 150 665
Michiganu 277 40 220 40 17
Michiganv 2,475 160 225 1,012 * * 338 900
Minnesotaw 705 160 200 315 73 117
Texasx 500 100 200 50 50 100 50 50
Texasy 715 50 150 60 150 260 25 65
Texasz 1,000 160 400 150 150 150 150
Texasaa 7,800 160 400 * 600 4,450 750 1,600
Texasbb 9,000 1,000 2,500 * 500 5,250 750
Wisconsincc 1,690 200 250 480 400 160 400
Wisconsindd 2,000 640 800 100 200 350 150 * 400
Wisconsinee 2500 100 1,600 * * 560 100 * 250

An asterisk (*) indicates that the item is included in the first preceding figure; a dagger(†) indicates that the item is not included in the estimate.

a Ernest Seyd, California and Its Resources (1858), p. 141. The estimate assumes that 90 acres are fenced. Seed is included with provisions, implements with livestock, and buildings with fencing.

b Franklin Langworthy, Scenery of the Plains, Mountains and Mines (1855), pp. 195-96. The "Other" item includes $100 for implements.

c John Regan, The Emigrant's Guide to the Western States of America (1852), p. 353. "Other" includes $50 for furniture and $120 for implements.

d Fred Gerhard, Illinois as It Is (1857), p. 294.

e Prairie Farmer, XV (1855), 344.

f Josiah T. Marshall, The Farmer's and Emigrant's Hand-Book (1952), pp. 402-3. The estimate includes 160 acres of land at $1.25 per acre and 40 acres of timberland at $5.00 per acre. "Oter" includes $15 for a well. The estimate applies to prairie lands in general and not to Illinois specifically. A very similar estimate by an English writer appears in Working Farmer, II (1850), 270.

g Regan, op. cit., pp. 356-57. The estimate includes the purchase of 40 acres of improved land -- fenced, broken, and including buildings; also of 5 acres of timbered land at $20 per acre. "other" includes $100 for furniture and $120 for implements.

h Gerhard, op. cit., p. 294.

i Country Gentleman, V (1855), 141. Provisions for a year are specified in addition.

j Gerhard, op. cit., p. 295.

k James Caird, Prairie Farming in America (1859), p. 91. Includes 100 acres broken, fenced, sown, and harvested; also buildings. "Other" includes horses, implements, and harness.

l Gerhard, op. cit., p. 299.

m Caird, op. cit., p. 89. The item of $1,250 is for breaking, fencing, and harvesting the first crop, as well as for buildings. The "Other" item is for hired labor.

n Ibid., p. 55. Original figures in sterling. Includes entire area fenced and cultivated.

o Connecticut Valley Farmer and Mechanic, I (1854), 153.

p Northern Farmer, I (1854), 290-91.

q Nathan Parker, Iowa Handbook for 1856 (1856), pp. 159-60.

r A. Cunynghame, Glimpse of the Great Western Republic (1851), pp. 103-6 and 108. "Other" includes $350 for passage from Great Britain to Iowa and $200 for miscellaneous and surplus. Implements included with seed. Original figures in sterling.

s Iowa Farmer and Horticulturist, V (1857), 102.

t Rural New Yorker, V (1854), 222- Includes the breaking and cultivation of 80 acres only.

u Michigan Farmer, VIII (1850), 265. This is an estimate of capital required for undertaking farm-making on a share basis, the land being owned by a second party with whom the produce is equally divided. Half the required seed is included.

y Sidney Smith, The Settler's New Home (1850), p. 91 (citing William Ferguson).

w New Hampshire Journal of Agriculture, April 14, 1859. Includes $90 for transportation from New England.

x DeBow's Commercial Review, X (1851), 640-41. Includes $50 for transportation.

y Southern Cultivator, XIII (1855), 125.

z Frederick Law Olmsted, Journey through Texas (i860), p. 460. The "Other" item includes wages, tools, and working cattle.

aa J. De Cordova, Texas, Her Resources and Her Public Men (1858), p. 55. The "Other" item includes $900 for wages for agricultural labor and $700 interest on capital for the first year.

bb Olmsted, op. cit., p. 205. The estimate is for a stock farm in western Texas. Fifty acres are assumed fenced and broken. The stock includes 200 head of cattle and 650 sheep. Olmsted gives another estimate involving the same total for a cotton plantation in the same area which includes 70 acres broken, $800 for livestock and implements, and $6,400 for slaves (p. 206).

cc Working Farmer, II (1850), 270.

dd Seyd, op. cit., p. 139. Assumes 20 acres cleared. Costs of log house included in fencing. "Other" item of $400 is for implements.

ee Wisconsin Farmer, VIII (1856), 440-41. Specifies 50 acres broken. Includes $150 for implements. "If one's means are moderate, one-half of that sum can be made to answer every purpose, by going to the newer portions of the State, and purchasing as good but cheaper land -- by substituting two yoke of oxen for the horses and harness, and starting with three cows instead of five....."


The estimates included in Table 1 indicate clearly that substantial amounts of capital were considered necessary to farm-making by contemporary observers. The conditions assumed in these calculations vary widely, however, and the computations likewise differ in their content and inclusiveness. The costs noted, moreover, are at variance in their requirements for liquid capital. Certain items could sometimes be met through the use of credit, others could be provided by labor or sacrifice, and money outlays could sometimes be avoided if the needed property were held. We may profitably consider in detail the individual items in the farm-maker's cost prospect and the possibilities of escaping capital investment in each case.


Land acquisition was the basic factor in the farm-maker's problem, and we may begin with an examination of the land market. This market was a complex one; the situation is not described by reference to federal lands at $1.25 per acre, despite the fact that the federal government was the original owner of most of the available lands.29 From the point of view of the farm-maker there were actually five major sources from which lands could be obtained: the federal government; the state governments; land-grant corporations; private speculators; and private holders of partially improved lands.

The principal method of land sale employed by the federal government was that of auction. Lands offered at auction were held for a minimum price of $1.25 per acre, that price applying also to lands sold to pre-emptors and lands sold privately after having failed to sell at auction. The federal government also sold to private individuals after 1854, at reduced, graduated prices, certain lands which had been on the market for various periods of years. Transfers of land by the federal government to individuals totaled almost 50,000,000 acres during the decade. Of this [330] total, 43 per cent was sold at prices below $1.25 per acre.30 Only 24 per cent of the total land area alienated by the federal government during this decade was disposed of by sale, and only 13 per cent was sold at or above the $1.25 minimum price. As important as land sales were the federal government's grants of lands to individuals. Under the military land-grant acts of 1847 and subsequent years, the government presented, to more than half a million individuals, tracts of lands varying from 40 to 160 acres each and totaling more than 57,000,000 acres.31 These lands came on the market after the warrants granting them were made assignable in 1852, and an active market was conducted in them with prices substantially below the federal minimum.32 [331]

The federal government assigned to individuals by these two methods -- sale and grant -- about 57 per cent of its total land transfers made during the decade. The remaining land conveyances were made as grants to the states, in the form of school, university, internal improvement, and swampland grants, and to canal and railroad corporations. In making these grants the federal government established new sources from which the farm-maker could purchase his land. In most cases the government exercised no regulation as to the price or the method of disposition of these lands. There was no uniformity of policy on the part of the various states with regard to their lands, but the eventual result was in most cases that the lands were thrown on the market for quick sale. Lands not thus sold were then placed open to private sale, often at much lower prices. The prices realized by the states from such sales varied greatly, ranging from as little as 10 cents per acre to as much as $10.

The guidebooks describing the western states and addressed to the prospective immigrant rarely failed to warn him that he must not expect to buy desirable lands at $1.25 per acre. "The immigrant must not come here, as many do, expecting to find first rate land, with timber and water, all spread out before him, very near to some city or town for $1.25 an acre; it is not to be had."33 Complaints that good lands were not available at government price to the settler were numerous; in order to obtain lands at $1.25 per acre, location had to be made far on the outskirts of settlement if not beyond, or else on poor lands in undesirable locations where communications were difficult and markets distant.

The enthusiasm of the authors of these guidebooks focused upon the "secondhand" lands -- virgin lands no longer owned by [332] state or federal government but held by railroad and canal corporations and by private speculators. Such lands were available in large acreages in every state in which farms were being made at prices two to ten times the federal minimum. These lands generally included, wherever settlement was under way, the remaining choice, fertile, and well-located sites. It was frequently pointed out that the differences in prices of these lands as compared with their desirability made them better values than federal minimum-price lands.34 The most important of the corporation lands on the market during the fifties were those of the Illinois Central Railroad. The prices obtained for these lands ranged substantially above those realized from government sales.35 More significant were the holdings of virgin lands in the hands of private speculators. Of the importance of the speculator in the land markets of the 1850's, particularly in the northern states, there can be no doubt.36 In the case of Iowa, which was the most popular [333] immigrant state of the decade, the state census for 1862 reported that some 15,000,000 acres, more than half the privately owned lands in the state, were owned by nonresidents, and commented: "Most of these lands are doubtless held, where they are [334] located very eligibly for speculation."37 Lands held by speculators were usually priced at upward of $3.00 per acre.

The fifth land market to be considered was that in improved lands -- lands on which some breaking, some fencing and building, and possibly some cropping had been done. The supply of such lands came to a large degree from a distinct and well-defined type of farm-maker or speculator who carried out the preliminary tasks of farm-making on purchased or pre-empted lands and who was satisfied to sell out after a few years, taking as his reward the increase in the price of the land which his labor and the increase in surrounding population had produced.38 These specialists [335] in farm-making were replaced by a more permanent population which itself had been, and indeed continued to be, subject to the similar temptation to sell -- to convert the increments in the value of their lands into a cash profit.39 The supply of such [336] cleared and semicleared farms was contributed to by the California, Pikes Peak, and Oregon migrations.40 Such lands were sometimes sold as low as $3.00 per acre but were generally valued at from $7.00 to $10.00 and frequently higher.41 Advice to immigrants regarding such lands was conflicting. Some observers pointed out the profitability of buying such farms which were ready to farm. They argued that improvements could frequently be purchased cheaper than they could be made and that such lands possessed the advantages of civilization, such as neighbors and schools, and were frequently located where markets were cheaply accessible.42 Others argued that such lands might be seriously [337] injured by crude and careless cultivation and might for that reason be unwise purchases.43

The wide choice of sellers which the prospective farm-maker found available was paralleled by the variety of the terms of sale. The federal government sold its lands only for cash or federal land warrants. State lands, however, were frequently sold on credit terms,44 and credit was usually given by the landed corporations and by private speculators. The period over which credit was given was rarely long, ranging from a year or two to the six years offered by the Illinois Central Railroad. On the other hand, full title to lands might be obtained without investment in certain areas. The states of Maine and Arkansas offered lands to actual settlers, the purchase price to be paid in land script which was issued to these settlers as payment for labor performed in road-making and drainage.45 Arkansas and Michigan gave outright [338] donations of certain lands to actual settlers,46 and Texas, after 1853, gave homesteads to settlers upon payment of office fees and surveying costs.47

An important form of land credit was the common practice of laying claim to federal lands beyond the area proclaimed for sale, such lands being put to use without investment of any kind. Such "squatters" or pre-emptors enjoyed the opportunity to improve their claims with the hope that they could make sufficient from the cultivation of the land to pay for it when it was proclaimed for sale. If unfortunate in that respect, they were protected in the value of their improvements by claim assoc at ions which guaranteed that, should others desire their claims, they would receive compensation for their improvements.48 In any case the squatter could with little effort at agriculture or improvement hope for a speculative profit in selling desirable claims to later settlers.49 The squatter was not, however, the typical farm-maker. [339] He was rather a distinct and well-defined type who undertook a limited number of the operations of farm-making without possessing adequate capital. The great migrations which converted the wild forests and prairies into farms were not composed of squatters; that class had preceded it. The great migrations occurred after federal survey and proclamation of its lands. The typical settler came looking for fertile agricultural land, well located, with a little timber if it were prairie land, close to markets and neighbors.50


Land was the raw material from which farms were made, but it was nevertheless only one of the factors involved. James Caird, an English observer, pointed out that the "price of land is the least consideration that a British emigrant need take into his calculations"51 -- a caution that was frequently repeated and applicable to the native farm-maker as well as to the foreign immigrant.52 Following the purchase of the land, began a process which was expensive of labor, capital, and time. The initial task was that of preparing the soil for the seeding of the first crop. In the case of forested lands the timber had to be cleared away; in the case of prairie, the sod had to be broken and rotted. In each case it was possible for the farm-maker to carry out the task by his own labor, but the differences between the two tasks and also the differing character of the period in which forest-clearing predominated from that in which prairie-breaking was typical revealed themselves in the fact that forest-clearing was most generally done by the farm-maker himself while prairie-breaking was very frequently performed by professional breakers on contract.

The cost of clearing timbered land varied from $5.00 to $20.00 [340] and upward per acre.53 What was considered one of the cheapest and, frequently, also the best method of clearing forest land required that the trees be girdled and then permitted to stand from four to six years, cattle being fed on the land during this period to keep down the underbrush. At the end of the period the timber would be thoroughly dried and could be easily cut and burned. This method was estimated to cost from $5.00 to $8.00 per acre.54 Though crops might be sown among the dead trees, falling limbs and trunks were a cause of considerable damage.

It was, of course, desirable to hasten the process; this could be done only at increased labor and cost and frequently involved delay in total area cleared and also resulted in a poorer quality of clearing.55 One of the most common methods of forest-clearing involved the cutting of timber and brush into windrows during the winter, after which the timber lay about two years, and then those parts suitable for rails were removed and the remainder burned. This method was estimated to cost about $10 per acre.56 The quickest method consisted of chopping the timber in the spring, preferably after the trees had been girdled the previous fall, the logs being burned during the first dry weather; then the ground was harrowed and sown to some crop such as corn or potatoes, which was followed by wheat in the fall.57 The costs of [341] this method were estimated at $14 or $15 an acre,58 and the results were less satisfactory than other more time-consuming methods, since the land remained incumbered for many years with green stumps which continued to sprout, defying removal and remaining obstacles to plowing for some years longer than did the roots of girdled trees.59 Oak openings and brushlands were special problems, since they had both to be cleared and broken. The tough roots present in the soils of such areas made breaking a particularly difficult task. After the timber had been removed from the oak openings of Michigan, a difficult task in itself, the contract cost of breaking the soil, ranging from $3.50 to $5.00 per acre, remained to be met.60 Brushland was very general along the timbered edges of the prairies and was commonly grubbed at a cost of $10 to $12 per acre, although it was also sometimes merely plowed roughly and seeded, the shrubs, saplings, and roots being destroyed by burning.61

The task of preparing the open prairie lands for cultivation was quite different. Once the sod was turned under, little further labor was required and immediate seeding of a crop was possible. A period of waiting for the sod to decay ensued, but the period required was measured in months and not in years. In any case the task was far lighter than that of clearing forested lands, but it was a task unfamiliar to the immigrant from the East, and it involved difficulties and required special tools and skills. The plow used was commonly a heavy, specialized, prairie-breaker, pulled by three to eight yoke of oxen.62 The skill derived of experience in breaking was a valuable asset, particularly since a poorly broken field in which part of the sod escaped uninjured [342] was a serious handicap for many subsequent years, much as a "bad burn" handicapped the forest-clearer.63 Timing was also important, the best period for breaking being a short one of about two months in the spring after the sod had sprung up and before it had ceased its early rapid growth.64 If broken earlier the grass was liable to reappear, while if broken after this period the sod would not rot well and might interfere with the production of a satisfactory crop the following year. It was possible to produce a crop of sod corn on the earliest breaking, but it was very common for the farm-maker to spend an entire summer in breaking, with little or no effort made to get in a crop until wheat was sown in the fall or until the following spring.65

Despite these considerations the task of breaking was within the abilities of the average prairie farm-maker.66 Yet, and in contrast to the custom in forest-clearing, the practice of contracting out the breaking of prairie sod to specialists for a money payment was a very common one.67 The costs of breaking the sod by contract [343] varied somewhat with the region and the character of the work. A commonly quoted price was $2.50 per acre, prices ranging from $1.50 to more than $5.00.68 The general practice of breaking by contract was based upon important considerations aside from those of skill and specialized implements suggested above. The whole tempo of farm-making as conducted on the prairies was far more rapid than had been the case earlier when the forest had been the farm-maker's problem. Instead of attempting to clear a 40-acre tract in ten or fifteen years, the prairie farm-maker usually thought in terms of clearing his 80 or 160 acres in two to four years.69 The amount of land which could be placed in crops was limited by no serious problems of decay but only by the area broken. The availability of profitable markets made it desirable to get as much land into crops as possible. Furthermore, no individual could break enough land in the short period available each year and at the same time carry out the many other tasks facing him. Obviously the farm-maker with capital was able to get his land into production far more rapidly than the [344] settler who was forced to do his own breaking. No one could afford to forgo breaking services if they were within his means, particularly as the possibility existed that the first crop would return the entire investment.70

Fencing was, next to breaking, the most important farm-making task and was an essential part of the first farm-making operations.71 The wild, uncultivated lands were the free range of livestock which were always a threat to growing crops. No farmer could afford the risk of even a partial loss of crops from the depredations of such animals. Adequate fences were required under the laws of most of the states in case reimbursement was to be sought for damages inflicted by animals belonging to another. In very sparsely settled areas broken fields were sometimes seeded before they could be fenced.72 This practice was recognized as bad management, and numerous reports occur of crops lost for this reason.73 Though it was possible to postpone until farm profits [345] provided the capital all or part of the investment in fencing by vigilance in turning cattle away from cultivated fields or by local agreement to inclose the animals,74 common practice seems to have regarded fencing as the earliest task of the farm-maker, equal in importance with breaking, and to be completed at the first opportunity. The fact that the area under fence in Iowa in 1862 exceeded the area under cultivation is evidence of the importance attached to fencing in the farm-making process.75 Throughout the nation, and not only in the farm-making regions, fencing was looked upon as a serious problem and a heavy financial burden, and a solution was eagerly sought in hedging and in wire-fencing.76 It was pointed out that "fences are to a prairie farm one-third its value."77 It was certainly a rare farm-maker who had not to invest more capital -- or its equivalent in labor in the case of forested areas -- in his fence than in land.78 Where timber was to be had for the taking, the Virginia rail fence was the easiest and cheapest to build. The labor cost involved was estimated at from 35 to 70 cents a rod, which meant that the 320 rods required to fence a 40-acre field involved a cost of from $112 [346] to twice that sum. A 160-acre field requires 640 rods of fence, and thus its cost of fencing was twice that of the 40-acre area. In any case the costs were heavy. Where timber was scarce as on the prairies, liquid capital was necessary with which to purchase local or imported timber or a near-by woodland.79 Since economy of timber was required under such conditions, the post and rail fence was standard in these areas. Its cost was, however, substantially higher than that of the Virginia rail fence -- from $1.00 a rod up, depending upon the value of lumber. A fence around a 40-acre field cost at least $320; a farm of 160 acres broken into four fields required an investment considerably in excess of $1,000 for fences alone.80


Clearing and fencing prepared the soil for the farming operations which were to follow. Capital was again required for implements, seed, and livestock. It was no doubt possible for a farm-maker [347] to be possessed of no implements other than a cheap shovel plow, hoe, scythe, spade, harness, and wagon, but such a list represented an investment of perhaps $100. In the South the investment in implements per worker was much smaller, but this list of implements was very inadequate for the West. There the plows used could not be confined to a single type of cast iron but were of numerous varieties and made preferably of the more expensive steel.81 If corn was cultivated in Iowa in the fifties it was generally done with the horse-drawn cultivator and not with the hoe. The use of the seed drill was beginning to be considered desirable, though its use in the fifties was largely confined to the regions east of the Mississippi.82 It was the wheat crop which called for the heaviest investment in agricultural implements. The tasks of reaping and harvesting far exceeded the capacity of the western labor supply, and the purchase or hire of both machines was essential to maximize returns from the land.83 Though thrashing [348] was commonly done on contract, the reaper was usually purchased; and though it was possible to buy ioo acres of land at government price for approximately the price of a mower or reaper, the land had little but speculative value without the machine to make possible its profitable cultivation.

The reaper and drill were not essential implements to the farm-maker, though the advantages to be obtained from their use were so great as to require their acquisition at the earliest opportunity. Excluding these instruments, the common ioo-acre wheat-corn farm required an investment of at least $100 in implements and tools. An estimate for a ioo-acre Wisconsin farm allocated $150 for plow, drag, cultivator, and small tools to start with.84 The new machines, however, were frequently considered indispensable.85 Parker gives a breaking plow, a common plow, a reaper, and a thrasher as a very minimum of implements, representing an investment of at least $375, without mentioning small tools, cultivators, harrows, rollers, or drills.86 A 160-acre farm in Illinois was estimated to require among other equipment a breaking [349] plow, two common plows, two cultivators, harness for four horses, a reaper, and a thrashing machine, which would require more than $700.87 Certainly a minimum of $100 had to be set aside for implements. The value of the implements of the farms of the western states as revealed by the census of 1860 averaged $156 per each 100 acres in farms, compared with a national average of $150 and an average for the farms of New England of of $134.88

Since the possessors of capital invested much more readily in lands than in animals, livestock was relatively scarce on the farm-making frontiers, though the desirability of animals to take advantage of the pasturage freely afforded on the prairies was well recognized.89 Draft animals were, nevertheless, essential in farming operations, and hogs were indispensable as a source of food as well as providing a marketable crop which matured quickly and required little capital. The draft animals might be a team of horses, themselves as expensive as a quarter-section of government land; less likely a yoke of cheaper oxen.90 A minimum investment in draft animals, a few hogs, and some poultry involved from $150 to $200.91 A well-stocked farm included a small herd [350] of cattle which might well increase the investment required to, or above, $500.92 Sheep were uncommon in farm-making areas.93 Capital was also required for the purchase of seed. In the north where wheat was the common initial cash crop the necessity for $1.00 to $2.00 per acre for seed was a significant capital requirement.94 Corn required a smaller investment, while cotton seed was virtually without value in the South.

Farm-making involved an interval of waiting after the initial investment had been made for the first returns to come in -- a period of from six to eighteen months or more.95 During this interval the maintenance of the family had to be provided for from the farm-maker's capital or credit resources. The period between the beginnings of production and its reward might be reduced to six months if corn and hogs were produced in sufficient quantity the first year to give adequate support.96 This could be done, however, only if the farm-maker arrived at his new homestead very early in the spring, which was obviously difficult in partially or entirely unsettled country lacking adequate roads. In such [351] case prairie-breaking almost certainly had to be contracted out or, if not, the farm-maker had to content himself with a very limited area planted in crops. Arrival in the late summer and early fall in time to build adequate housing and to collect wild hay to winter the animals involved the longer waiting period but was common and was considered the most desirable.97 Though the period in which family maintenance had to be supplied from capital was thereby lengthened, arrival at such a time permitted the work of housing and fencing to be completed by spring so that the problem of breaking and seeding could be given uninterrupted attention.

With good fortune the farm-maker could raise within the first year or year and a half enough corn, potatoes, and pork to feed his family. Capital to maintain the family for at least a year was highly desirable. The sod corn was at best an uncertain crop, under any conditions yielding only moderately and frequently producing nothing but cattle fodder.98 Moreover, it was considered by some to be desirable to permit the breaking to lie without a crop of any kind, since the sod decayed more thoroughly.99 The wheat sown on land broken the previous summer as well as on land bearing the sod-corn crop provided the first important marketable crop the following spring.100 Clearly, the advantages were all in favor of the longer waiting period. The sum of $100 was estimated as the cost of the first year's [352] maintenance for a family.101 That there actually did exist a considerable degree of dependence on the part of new farm-makers upon the purchase of food supplies is indicated by the fact that the earliest settlers in an area ordinarily considered the later arrivals as excellent markets for their produce.102

Little generalization is possible regarding travel costs. Emigrants from areas bordering on the farm-making frontier probably traveled with their stock and equipment, and to them the chief [353] costs were time and subsistence. Emigrants from the east coast could travel by water to New Orleans, by canal, lake, and railroad, or entirely by rail, to the Mississippi. The railroad fare from Boston to St. Louis in 1855 was about $29 first class, $13 emigrant class.103 The expenses of travel are not to be dismissed as trivial, as they were a large item to the eastern immigrant.104

Housing was still another necessity which called for some capital in the hands of the farm-maker. In forested areas house, barns, and outbuildings did not present acute problems, since lumber was cheap and log houses could always be temporarily utilized if better could not be afforded. The board shanty or cottage was, however, more easily erected and more desirable than the log house and was built whenever possible. In prairie areas board houses were standard, though substitutes such as log cabins, sod houses, and even tents were used. The costs of housing varied widely of course. Log cabins were estimated to cost from $25 to $100.105 The cost of a four-room cottage, which was perhaps the most common form, varied from $245 to $450.106 The materials [354] for a small two-room house could be obtained for as little as $150 on the Illinois prairies, while larger houses cost as much as $1,000. Barns and similar buildings appear in few estimates; they were scarce in any area where farms were still in the making and were among the last items into which capital was placed.


No doubt farm-making was frequently undertaken by individuals possessing capital of less than $1,000. In view of the facts presented, however, that sum must be considered as the minimum required for western prairie farm-making under the conditions as they existed in the 1850's. Such a sum permitted the breaking and fencing of 40 acres of land, but not of its purchase, and would supply the minimum required of implements, livestock, and subsistence.107 This figure was particularly applicable to the prairie areas from Texas to Minnesota -- those regions upon which were focused the migrations of the decade. Elsewhere, in forested areas and at the fringes of settlement, somewhat smaller capital might have sufficed. In any case the farm-maker's wealth could not fall much short of $1,000; to the degree that it did, the farm-maker was inevitably forced to undertake farm-making in some roundabout fashion, perhaps working part of his time for wages (which implies the possession of capital on the part of the employing farmer) and taking a longer period to develop his farm than the [355] individual who did possess the suggested sum. He would, moreover, suffer correspondingly greater risks and discomforts, the added burden of borrowing capital at the high rates of the West, and probably had to accept smaller and less certain returns.108

It is altogether clear that the West of the 1850's cannot be regarded as offering great agricultural opportunities for the poor and poverty-stricken. Cheap land there was in abundance to be sure, but it was raw land, not capable of furnishing an immediate livelihood. It was but the bare surface, requiring much labor and capital before its fertility could be elicited.109 In contrast we cannot doubt that the possession of a moderate capital such as has been suggested opened the opportunity to develop in a very short time valuable and profitable farm properties. [356]

The sources of the farm-maker's capital were either cash savings or the proceeds from the sale of property. The liquidation of property was, of course, the common method of eastern farmers of raising cash capital for westward removal; such property was purchased by others, and thus, ultimately, the capital taken West came from savings. Such savings were sums brought from abroad by foreign immigrants or they were accumulations derived from wages, profits, or property incomes. It is doubtful if immigrants from abroad brought any large sums into the United States,110 and it seems certain that far the larger part of the capital that was invested in western farm-making had its origin in the savings of agriculturists or of wage and salary earners in the East. Ultimately, it was thus the profitability of eastern agriculture111 and the ability of a rapidly growing and profitable eastern industry to pay high wages that made possible the movement of capital to the West. [357]

It is not to be implied that the necessary capitals were easily come by. Common wages for ordinary labor in the fifties did not reach $1.00 per day.112 Agricultural labor, the class certainly most directly concerned with western opportunities, generally received about $150 per year, besides board and room.113 From such wages it is unreasonable to expect that savings could greatly exceed $50 a year.114 The accumulation of a fund adequate for western migration was thus no mean undertaking for the individual and was made doubly difficult, no doubt, by the unsatisfactory banking structure. Certainly the notion that a dissatisfied wage earner could, within a year or two of his decision to go West to undertake the making of a farm, pack up and do so is completely fallacious. Equally certain is it that the West offered no desirable escape at a time of financial crisis or depression when accumulated savings might be lost or difficult to liquidate, when credit was difficult or impossible to secure, and when the attractiveness of western agricultural profits had vanished along with the profits of industry and the security of an industrial wage.

Given a class of men who moved West with adequate capital, it was possible for others lacking such capital to emigrate also. Western development was not exclusively agricultural; it included the development of towns and cities as well as of trade, transportation, and local industries; in fact, all the varied parts of a complex economic structure.115 Those who wished to emigrate but lacked capital for agricultural enterprise or who had no wish to undertake [358] farming could go West, nevertheless, as laborers on the railroads, in lumber camps, and elsewhere, as tradesmen, and as skilled mechanics, finding economic opportunity in those towns and cities the growth of which paralleled that of agriculture. Wages were higher in the West than in the East, since the supply of labor, particularly of skilled mechanical labor, was smaller, relative to the opportunities for their employment. Cheap land exercised in this way an indirect influence, marked though immeasurable, upon the status and wage of the eastern laborer.

The relationship of the farm-making frontier to eastern economic society was, of course, not simple. The scarcity of capital in the East was at all times a serious deterrent to eastern industrial development, and any movement of capital westward must have accentuated this scarcity and thus must have had a detrimental effect upon the demand for labor and hence upon wages. On the other hand, the western farm-making frontier unquestionably favorably influenced the position of the eastern wage earner. Even though eastern mechanics themselves participated in the migration only on a small scale,116 they were nevertheless favorably affected if population were drawn West which might alternatively have been drawn into industry and thus increased the eastern labor supply. The movement of native population out of eastern agriculture in the 1850's was in fact not into surrounding industry but rather largely to the West.117 To the extent, moreover, that foreign immigrants moved westward or replaced emigrating eastern agricultural population, the effect of foreign immigration upon the eastern wage earner was less serious than might otherwise have been the case. The development of the West expanded the largest market open to the industrial East and thus stimulated the demand for the products of eastern wage labor. The fact that the West exported agricultural staples abroad was likewise a favorable factor, since the capital supply open to the East was thus increased. [359]

In view of the costs of farm-making in the West it is clearly an error to consider western farm-making opportunities as directly determinate of the status of eastern wage labor. To the degree that the eastern wage earner actually entered western migration, this was possible only as a result of the high wages being paid in the East. The agricultural population moving westward did so also in large part because of the possibility of selling its eastern property and transferring the necessary capital to the West. Without a prosperous development of industry the East could not have settled the West (the cotton South excepted) with anything approaching the rapidity actually achieved. The ability of that young eastern industrial economy to continue to develop rapidly in the face of the transfer of large sums of wealth to the new agricultural West testified to the fact that fundamentally the productivity and profitability of eastern industry made high wages possible. Rapid growth guaranteed that such wages would actually be paid since industry was under the necessity of attracting sufficient numbers of new wage earners for its expanding needs. Such new wage earners came from eastern agricultural populations and foreign immigrants as well as from the natural increase of the wage-labor populations. No doubt the western frontier might have functioned to prevent serious exploitation had such exploitation been at all possible, and doubtless on occasion eastern industry faced competition from the West for labor, since the wages received by labor in some cases at least permitted the wage earner to accumulate funds for emigration. Such influences were, however, certainly and distinctly secondary.


1 Notably, on the one hand, Carter Goodrich and Sol Davison, "The Wage-Earner in the Westward Movement," Political Science Quarterly, L (1935), 161-85; LI (1936), 61-116; and, on the other, Joseph Schafer, "Concerning the Frontier as Safety Valve," ibid., LII (1937), 407-20. See also Joseph Schafer, "Some Facts Bearing on the Safety-Valve Theory," Wisconsin Magazine of History, XX (1936), 216-32; Murray Kane, "Some Considerations of the Safety-Valve Doctrine," Mississippi Valley Historical Review, XXIII (1936), 169-88, and "Some Considerations on the Frontier Concept of Frederick Jackson Turner," ibid., XXVII (1940), 379-400; Rufus S. Tucker, "The Frontier as an Outlet for Surplus Labor," Southern Economic Journal, VII (1940), 158-86; Fred A. Shannon, "The Homestead Act and the Labor Surplus," American Historical Review, XLI (1936), 637-51. For a general bibliography on the safety-valve doctrine see E. E. Edwards, "References on the Significance of the Frontier in American History," U.S. Department of Agriculture, Library, Bibliographical Contributions, No. 25 (1935).

2 Horatio Seymour in an address before the New York State Agricultural Society distinguished between the "old" self-sufficient agriculture and the "new" agriculture of the 1850's, focused upon profits and markets (Transactions, XII [1852], 26-30).

3 New England Cultivator, I (1852), 201.

4 "No error is more common than to suppose that the farmer does not require Capital" (Working Farmer, XI [1859], 148). "To be something before-handed in worldly goods is essential before settling upon a farm; a little ready cash, besides paying for land and stock of cattle is absolutely indispensable if we should farm it ready and have farming pleasant and successful" (Homestead, V [i860], 310). "A certain amount of capital is necessary and indispensable to success in farming" (Rural New Yorker, V [1854], 261). "The want of capital is a serious obstacle in the way of most young men, which induces them to go into other business in preference to farming. The farmer is under the necessity, about here, of possessing a few thousands of capital to be able to work his farm to advantage" (New England Farmer, IV [1852], 478; IX [1857], 148).

5 "A farmer with five or ten thousand dollars is much more likely to invest the whole of it in acres, than in the materials to work his acres with profitably. Unused acres do not pay the taxes on them, and yet they would think it the straight road to ruin to sell an acre" (Connecticut Valley Farmer and Mechanic, II [1854], 98). "They almost invariably purchase or hire too much land, and thereby exhaust their resources at once, leaving nothing but their manual labor and a precarious credit to turn the use of this land to good account" (American Agriculturist, XV [1856], 127). "They forget that the ownership of this very unimproved land will be sure to prevent their ever having the means to improve it. They don't reflect that the interest upon the value of this unimproved land and the taxes upon it, would buy the land twice over at the end of ten years" (Iowa Farmer and Horticulturist, I [1853], 3). "We will suppose a man to come in possession of a farm of fifty acres of land, with the necessary buildings for farming purposes and one thousand dollars in cash. Now do I not state a fact when I say that instead of keeping the $1000 as a capital to conduct the business of the farm with profit and success, seven men out of the nine would seek at once to buy more land, investing the $1000 in this way and perhaps even buying so much more land as to run in debt $1000 . . . ." (Albany Cultivator, cited in Colman's Rural World or Valley Farmer, II [1850], 254). Cf. American Agriculturist, IX (1851), 256; X (1852), 92; XII (1854), 387; XV (1856), 65; American Farmer, XIII (new ser., 1857), 86-87; Carolina Cultivator, II (1856), 205; Colman's Rural World, II (1850), 109; III (1851), 58; Connecticut Valley Farmer and Mechanic, I (1853), 7; Genesee Farmer, XVIII (1857), 193; Homestead, I (1855), 753, 786; III (1858), 763; IV (1859), 138, 171; V (i860), 51, 310; Iowa Farmer and Horticulturist, IV (1856), 3, 130-31; Journal of Agriculture, II (1852), 361; Northern Farmer, II (1855), 266; Plough, Loom and Anvil, IV (1852), 723; Rural New Yorker, V (1854), 364; Western Agriculturist, I (1852), 55; Working Farmer, VIII (1856), 220; Massachusetts Board of Agriculture, Annual Report of the Secretary, IX (1861), 107; Ohio Board of Agriculture, Annual Report, IV (1849), 555 U.S. Patent Office, Annual Report: Agriculture, (1852), p. 134; James Caird, Prairie Farming in America (1859), pp. 52-54; John Gregory, Industrial Resources of Wisconsin (1855), pp. 61-62.

6 A detailed estimate of the equipment required on a farm of 100 improved acres in New York is presented in the Illustrated Register of Rural Affairs (1855), pp. 323-25 (also in Country Gentleman, V [1855], 213, cf. p. 278). The items included had an estimated value of $2,009.50, of which $1,010 was allocated to stock, $75 for seed for the first year, $400 for animal food until the first harvest, $350 for hired help, and $424.50 for implements. The latter item did not include seed drills, mower, reaper, thrasher, or horsepower, all of which could be rented. Costs of land and the support of the family during the first year are not included in the total.

Another estimate for a farm of similar size in the same state provided $870 for stock, $437 for implements, $63 for seed, $320 for labor, and $142 for maintenance of animals, a total of $1,832 (quoted with approval by Edwin F. Freedley, in Practical Treatise on Business [1852], pp. 65-71, from a New York State Agricultural Society Premium Essay on Farm Management). For similar lists see Genesee Farmer, XIX (1858), 213; Rural Affairs and Cultivator Almanac (1858), p. 131; New England Farmer, V (1853), 568.

The question raised as to the use of $1,000 on a 200-acre Pennsylvania farm led to the conclusion that such a capital was inadequate and that at least $2,000 was required on a farm of that size (Pennsylvania Agricultural Society, Annual Report, V [1859], 277). The editor of the Soil of the South in reply to the query, "Can I, with a capital of $1,000, purchase and work a small farm and make a comfortable living out of it ... ." says: "From such an investment for farming purposes, a support, may be very certainly expected but not very large gains." He suggested a very modest farm of 30-50 acres, a horse, a cow, a sow, and crops such as roots, fruits, and vegetables (Soil of the South, VI [1856], 11).

7 Some of the phrases used in referring to those who were evidently considered desirable prospects included: "man of moderate means" (Rural New Yorker, VI [I855], 202); "man of slender means" (ibid., p. 302); "a small capital" (ibid., p. 14); "small means" (ibid., VII [1856], 69-70); "A young man with steady, frugal, industrious habits, with $200 or $300 (more is not objectionable)" (ibid., IX [1858], 198); "young men, and women, too, of limited means" (ibid., V [1854], 317); "The immigrants are principally men of small means" (American Agriculturist, XII [1854], 128); "limited means" (Cultivator, VIII [new ser., 1851], 355); "The good, honest, upright settlers .... who with their industry and their capital will make the natural prairie look like an old farm in one year's time" (Rural New Yorker, V [1854], 286); "those who have only a small or moderate capital" (Genesee Farmer, XVI [1855], 27); "A man with small means" (Fred Gerhard, Illinois as It Is [1857], pp. 289-90, 445). A writer who states that "the west is the refuge of the poor and those of very limited means" carried on his discussion in terms of $1,000 and more as the capital required (Ohio Cultivator, VIII [1852], 258-59).

8 "For a man to take a family there with barely money enough to defray expenses of the journey, it is worse than foolishness; better work here for $120 a year or even $100" (New Hampshire Journal of Agriculture, December 1, i860). The writer was referring toMinnesota and considered $1,000 as a minimum capital for a man with a family. "You cannot build a house, fence and break your 160 acres, and cultivate it all with $2,000, and I advise you not to attempt it. But despite all I have written you can build a small house, fence and break 40 acres to begin with and live comfortable and make a little money perhaps" (Rural Register, II [1860], 356). "It is questionable policy for a man who has reached middle life to cut himself loose from old ties and go to new places in search of fortune. But to the young man of robust constitution and some capital, the younger States undoubtedly afford more abundant opportunities for the profitable use of his energy and capital, than the older states, and to the man of capital, they offer inducements that are exceedingly attractive" (Freedley, op. cit., p. 257).

The secretary of the New England Emigrant Aid Company wrote: "As already suggested the Company advises no one, entirely destitute of means, to go out, at this early period; individuals who can command the requisite funds, (which indeed are but small,) to sustain them the first year, in other words until a crop is raised, or employment is sure, can go in perfect safety, and unquestionably should better their condition by going; others may find sufficient work to supply means, but it is premature for a very large number of such to go although thus far the supply of laborers has not kept pace with the demand; . . . ." (Thomas H. Webb, Information for Kanzas Immigrants [1855], p. 16).

Cf. James R. Beste, The Wabash or Adventures of an English Gentleman's Family in the Interior of America, I (1856), 281-83; Vol. II, chap, xi; Horace Greeley, An Overland Journey from New York to San Francisco in the Summer of 1859 (1860), pp. 67-68; Nathan Parker, Missouri Handbook (1865), p. 44; North-Western Review, I, No. 6 (1857), 2; Wisconsin and Iowa Farmer, VII (1855), 10-11; VIII (1856), 54.

9 "Inasmuch as every immigrant comes provided with the means for entering land and defraying expenses till he can make a crop, money has been in freer circulation here than in any other part of the country" (Parker, Iowa as It Is in 1855 [1855], p. 57). "From one town in New Hampshire, two hundred Mechanics have gone West this Spring, carrying with them at least $100,000" (Western Farm Journal, II [1857], 221). "Every emigrant must take some three hundred dollars with him and thus the State is drained not only of muscle but money" (Maine Farmer, February 12, 1852). Another writer in similar vein states that the three hundred thousand men who, it was estimated, would emigrate in 1857 would take $20,000,000 with them (Western Farm Journal, II [1857], 197). "The exodus from New England in population and wealth will be equivalent to the removal of the whole city of Boston, men, women and children" (Working Farmer, IX [1858], 142, citing the Chemung County Republican); cf. Ohio Farmer, VIII (1859), 409.

In an address on the state of New Hampshire farming, the comment is made: "Thousands of our young and most energetic men, whom we were least able to spare, have left our borders. Nor have these gone empty handed. It were vain to attempt an estimate of the value of the intelligence and industry in this manner lost to us; but consider for a moment, the pecuniary capital thus abstracted. Many have been persons of wealth. Nearly all have had something. This although of uncertain amount, has left us and gone to swell the inventories of other states" (New Hampshire Journal of Agriculture, November 10, 1859).

10 A Wisconsin correspondent of the Rural New Yorker wrote in reply to a query regarding the attractiveness of the terms of renting farms in the West: "Although he applies his inquiries only to Illinois and Iowa, they are applied by others to Wisconsin. The renting of farms is much more common in the Southern part of the State than in either of the others named. The customary terms are as follows: The land alone draws one-third, the renter furnishing his own team, tools, house, etc. Where the owner finds team, tools, house-rent, fire-wood, etc., and half the seed, he receives one-half in the half-bushel. This gives the man who has no capital as good a chance as he can ask.....Surely such a prospect offers strong inducements to a poor man; for, if he is industrious and economical, in a short time he can purchase a farm of his own" (VI [1855], 230). Cf. Caird, op. cit., pp. 50 and 93; Gerhard, op. cit., p. 404; New England Farmer, XII (1852), 258); Working Farmer, II (1850), 270; Farmer and Mechanic, V (new ser., 1850), 46. Tenancy in the West was by no means uncommon. Cf. Paul Wallace Gates, "Large Scale Farming in Illinois," Agricultural History, VI (1932), 20-21, and the descriptions of the methods of large landowners such as Jacob Strawn in Indiana and Illinois (Genesee Farmer, XX [1859], 173-74 and 205; Illinois Farmer, III [1858], 213; V [i860], 117; Farmer and Mechanic, V [new ser., 1851], 46; Pennsylvania Farm Journal, V [1855], 292).

Farming on shares did not entirely eliminate the need for capital as the citation given above indicates. Funds were required for the purchase of family provisions until the first crops were harvested and in many cases for the purchase of seed, implements, and animals. Credit for such items was frequently available, but interest rates were high. For a pessimistic description of tenancy see Ohio Cultivator, XIII (1857), 164-65.

11 "Many of our citizens have wild lands that they will lease for improvements. A man with a family may go on such land, clear and fence it, and have the use of it for five years, for the labor of clearing and fencing it, and during that time make money enough to buy a farm of his own" (Western Agriculturist, I [1851], 121). See also Caird, op. cit., p. 93; Gerhard, op. cit., p. 404; Parker, Iowa as It Is in 1855 (1855), p. 67; Country Gentleman, XI (1858), 33.

12 State-owned school lands were leased to the highest bidders in Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, and Texas. Cf. G. W. Knight, "History and Management of Land Grants for Education in the Northwest Territory," American Historical Association Papers, I, No. 3 (1895), 44-49, 64, 80-81.

13 "If they have not the required capital to take a farm at once, three or four years will probably place him in funds to commence his career as a proprietor of the soil" (George T. Borrett, Out West: A Series of Letters from Canada and the United States [1866], p. 129). "Very few of the original settlers brought any property with them; consequently, it has been very general for a man disposed to locate himself to begin by working out for a season, to enable him to provision himself for the first year and buy a team; these are by far the most successful" (Plough, Loom and Anvil, IV [1852], 687-88). "The laboring man in Ohio can, with suitable economy in one or two years, save enough for a farm to support himself and family, during life and have a home of his own" (Western Agriculturist, I[i8 52], 121). "Many a poor Eastern boy, who has gone West with but a small balance of funds in his pocket, has hired out to work the first year on the farm. The proceeds of this enables him to work a farm on shares the second and third years, and by the end of the fourth year would enable him to purchase a farm of his own" ("Commencing on the Prairies," Rural American, I [1856], 130). It was pointed out that the immigrant who stops in a city as a day laborer will always be that, but "he who hastens to the country and hires out upon a farm will in a few years be able to purchase and stock a farm in the west, with skill to work it profitably . . . ." (Colman's Rural World or Valley Farmer, II [1850], 274-75). Cf. Rural New Yorker, VI (1855), 126; Farmer's Journal, III (Raleigh, 1854), 204; James S. Ritchie, Wisconsin and Its Resources (1857), p. 168; Ernest Seyd, California and Its Resources (1858), pp. 146 and 156 ff.; Sidney Smith, The Settler's New Home (1850), pp. 43-44; Jacob Strawn commonly employed two to three hundred men in cultivating his farms in Indiana and Illinois (Colman's Rural World or Valley Farmer, XI [1859], 1AS)-

14 "I have said that Kanzas was not suited to the poor man; I only intended to refer to those who design to till the ground. But to the poor mechanic it offers great inducements. To all carpenters especially and to stone and brick masons it will give constant employment and high wages. The rudest beginner receives $1.50 per day; good workmen, as journeymen receive in regular employment from $2.00 to $3.00 per day. Their expenses are light, the cost of living being low" (quoted in Webb, op. cit., p. 19; also in C. W. Dana, The Great West [1859], p. 215; and Northern Farmer, III [1856], 168). Cf. C. C. Andrews, Minnesota and Dacotah (1857), pp. 130-31; Samuel Freeman, The Emigrant's Hand Book and Guide to Wisconsin (1851), p. 95; Gerhard, op. cit., p. 446; Parker, Iowa as It Is in 1855 (1855), p. 190; Iowa Handbook for 1856 (1856), pp. 154-55; John Regan, The Emigrant's Guide to the Western States of America (1852), pp. 351-52.

15 Gerhard, op. cit., p. 450; New Hampshire Journal of Agriculture, December 1, 1860.

16 Parker, Iowa Handbook for 1856 (1856), pp. 158-60.

17 American Agriculturist, XVI (1857), 252.

18 Op. cit., pp. 292-307 and 409-12.

19 J. D. B. DeBow, DeBow's Commercial Review, X (1851), 640-41.

20 Journey through Texas (1860), p. 460.

21 "Otherwise he must go to the extreme frontier and shift his stock from place to place, as settlements crowd upon him. He has to depend for protection against the Indians upon his rifle and revolver, and leads a life of constant danger and hardship, without neighbors, and debarred the necessaries and comforts enjoyed by the negro on one of our poorest Southern plantations" (correspondent of New York Evening Post, cited in New England Farmer, XII [i860], 554). Cf. Olmsted, op. cit., p. 205.

22 "Our opinion is, that most of those accustomed to regular mechanical employment only, with a capital of only about one thousand dollars, would find it difficult to buy a farm with buildings, stock it with animals, furnish wagons, carts, and implements generally, and food until a return is made in crops. We would never advise such persons to buy new lands but whether they settle west or east, to procure a place even if quite small already under cultivation and with at least some buildings.

"It will be some time before the most skillful will receive an amount equal to two dollars a day; and we would therefore advise all mechanics, not already well versed in the practical operations of farming, to endeavor to retain for themselves, at some wages, mechanical employment during the most leisure portion of the year -- to begin in a small way, to avoid running into debt, and to feel their way before engaging in any considerable expenditures" (Country Gentleman, V [1855], 8).

23 James Stirling, Letters from the Slave States (1857), pp. 19-20.

24 Arthur Cunynghame, Glimpse of the Great Western Republic (1851), pp. 103-6.

25 Working Farmer, II (1850), 270.

26 Op. cit., p. 353. "Thus for $550 or about 110 sterling, may a man make a promising beginning, and not for less. Those who cannot command this small capital must not think of commencing to operate with land, except indeed it be as renters, in which case a man who has been accustomed to farming may make a beginning on almost nothing; and even with the aforesaid capital, a man must have some ingenuity to carry him through the difficulties of a beginning. I have repeatedly seen in guide books the sum of 100 set down as sufficient to establish a man on 80 acres either in Illinois, Iowa or Wisconsin. This might do were the settler to begin with oxen and fence but a few acres at first. Mr. Newhall, who is considered no mean authority, says, indeed, that the cost of a house, implements, stock and eighty acres of land may be set down at 80! An estimate in which I am unable to concur because I would rather not incur the responsibility of misleading any one" (ibid., pp. 353-54). The reference to Newhall is to J. B. Newhall, The British Emigrant's Handbook and Guide to the Western States of America (1844), pp. 61-63. Regan also points out that the frequently cited estimate of Solon Robinson of $200 for prairie farm-making assumes that the farm-maker rents a farm for two or more years and that he possesses in addition to his $200 capital the necessary livestock, implements, and food (op. cit., pp. 360-65).

27 Caird, op. cit., pp. 91, 93. "I cannot, therefore, advise men who are unable to scrape more together than will merely pay their traveling expenses to go to Illinois. And far less can I advise them to go farther west. Suppose they could obtain land in Iowa or Minnesota, 400 miles farther away, at only half the price, the saving of is. 6d. an acre in their deposit, would never compensate even the cost of travel for the additional distance, while every article which they require to purchase must bear an enhanced price from the same cause" (p. 93).

28 All the estimates cited refer to the period 1850-60. Similar estimates are available for earlier dates: e.g., Anon., Illinois in 1837: A Sketch (1837), pp. 14 and 70; Richard Baird, View of the Valley of the Mississippi or the Emigrant's and Traveller's Guide to the West (1834), pp. 231-32; W. J. A. Bradford, Notes on the Northwest (1846), pp. 146-47; S. H. Collins, The Emigrant's Guide to the United States of America (1829), p. 101; Henry W. Ellsworth, Valley of the Upper Wabash (1838), pp. 49-60 and 65-68; James Hall, Statistics of the West at the Close of the Year 1836 (1836), pp. 203-4; A. D. Jones, Illinois and the West (1838), 140-64; P. Shirreff, A Tour through North America (1835). See also Theodore C. Blegen, "Ole Rynning's True Account of America," Minnesota History Bulletin, I (1917-18), 248-55 and 260-62; William Cobbett, The Emigrant's Guide in Ten Letters (1830), p. 46; J. Pickering, Inquiries of an Emigrant (1832).

29 The exceptions were the state-owned lands of Texas and Maine, which were never ceded to the federal government. These lands were on the market in the 1850's.

30 During the calendar years 1850-59, 207,000,000 acres of federal lands were alienated. Of this total, 50,000,000 acres were sold; 52,000,000 acres were granted to individuals; 76,000,000 acres were granted to states; and 28,000,000 acres were granted to corporations. Of the lands sold from 1854 to i860, 22,000,000 acres went at graduated prices.

Since much attention will be paid in this study to farm-making conditions in Iowa, it should be pointed out that Iowa was by far the most popular state in the Union for land purchasers. During the decade more than 12,000,000 acres were sold in that state, all at or above the $1.25 minimum, though much of this was purchased with land warrants. This acreage was about 34 per cent of the state's area. Next largest sales were made in Missouri, where 7,500,000 acres were sold, and in Alabama, where 4,750,000 acres were transferred. In both these states the large sales were stimulated by the low prices under the graduation act. More than half the 2,500,000 acres sold in Mississippi were sold at these lowered prices. Almost 15 per cent of the area of Arkansas was sold, two-thirds of it at graduated prices. Sales were relatively small in Louisiana and Florida. Among the northern states, aside from Iowa, more than 2,000,000 acres were sold in Michigan and only slightly smaller quantities in Illinois and Minnesota. Data compiled from United States Commissioner of the Land Office, Annual Reports (1850-60).

31 Under the Military Bounty Land Grants of 1847, ^o, 1852, and 1855, 530,479 warrants were issued involving 57,781,570 acres of land. Up to September 30, i860, a total of 49,584,990 acres had been located (United States Commissioner of the Land Office, Annual Report [1860], p. 47).

32 The warrants "could be secured from brokerage houses in New York and Washington in unlimited quantities," at prices of from 50 cents to $1.15 per acre, the larger acreages bringing the lower prices (New York Tribune, February 5, 1852). Cf. ibid., March 11, 1852. Prices of warrants were frequently quoted in the New York Journal of Commerce. See also Hunt's Merchants' Magazine, XXXIX (1858), 65; XLII (1860), 427; Rural New Yorker, III (1852), 159; IV (1853), 51; Ohio Cultivator, VIII (1852), 175; North-western Review, I, No. 3 (1857), 13; Michigan Farmer, XII (1854), 96; Rural Register, II (1860), 176.

33 Parker, Iowa as It Is in 1855 (1855), p. 68. "Strangers coming to Wisconsin are not to be deceived by supposing that they can get land in any part they please at government price" (Gregory, op. cit., p. 310). "Let me correct an erroneous idea, which many of our Eastern friends entertain in regard to the prices of land here at the West. Let no one think that good land can be procured for a trifling sum. All the unimproved lands in the older counties have been taken up by speculators who demand a higher price for them in proportion to their value, than that of improved farms" (Northern Farmer, III [1856], 171. The reference is to Wisconsin). Cf. Rural New Yorker, V (1854), 366; New England Farmer, VII (1855), 140; Robert Baird, Impressions and Experiences of the West Indies and North America (1850), p. 336.

34 The emigrant "must be especially careful not to tempt himself too far from the market, by a cheap bargain, and never to forget that in an inverse ratio from what it is at home, here the first price of the land is by no means the weightiest part of the investment" (Cunynghame, op. cit., p. 102). Cf. Parker, Iowa Handbook for 1856, p. 102; Northwestern Farmer, II (1858), 127; Rural New Yorker, VII (1856), 118; Genesee Farmer, XVII (1856), 116.

35 The lands of the Illinois Central came on the market in 1854, and, by 1860, 1,279,382 acres had been sold at an average price of $11.50 per acre on terms of up to six years' credit (Paul Wallace Gates, The Illinois Central Railroad and Its Colonization Work [1934], pp. 159 and 260-62). The Hannibal & St. Joseph Rail Road placed some of its lands on the market in 1858, priced at from $5.00 to $20.00 per acre, with nine years' credit (Hannibal & St. Joseph Rail Road, Farms and Homes in Northern Missouri [1857], p. 17). Lands of the Illinois and Michigan Canal were sold in small quantities during the decade at prices of from $4.50 to $12.50 per acre (Gates, op. cit., p. 156; Hunt's Merchants' Magazine, XXVIII [1853], 277-79; Rural New Yorker, IV [1853], 170). Lands of the Des Moines Navigation Company were also offered (Iowa Farmer, IV [1856], 187).

36 The federal land office asserted that speculative purchasing was relatively unimportant. The 1857 Annual Report estimated that three-quarters of the land located and sold was taken for actual settlement (Commissioner of the Land Office, Annual Report [1857], p. 80). The 1859 Report said, "We have the fact that our whole operations, sale and locations, have generally been for actual settlement and cultivation, and not for speculation" (ibid. [1859], p. 171). President Buchanan in his Annual Message in 1857 expressed a contrary opinion. "Speculation has of late years prevailed to a great extent in the public lands. The consequence has been that large portions of them have become the property of individuals and companies, and thus the price is greatly enhanced to those who desire to purchase for actual settlement" (Annual Message of the President [35th Cong., 1st sess]., p. 31).

The land-office claim no doubt possessed some truth as applied to the sales of land at graduated prices, but with regard to other sales all the evidence available confirms President Buchanan's opinion. From the Des Moines Land Office came the report of "men entering land by wholesale, without ever going to see it, staking a quarter section here and another there, shrewdly guessing that genuine hard working men will come after and pick up the vacant lots and soon want their lots at $5 to $10 per acre" (Country Gentleman, IV [1854], 45). Similar conditions were reported from the Dubuque and Decorah offices (Iowa Farmer, III [1855], 178). In southwestern Michigan there remained much unoccupied land, "mostly owned by Eastern speculators, and held at from $3 to $5 per acre" (Farmer's Companion and Horticultural Gazette, III [1854], 184). An Illinois observer wrote that "there are such shoals of 'land sharks' (so-called here) or speculators that they absorb all the best claims as soon as the lands are offered for sale, that a large proportion of actual settlers have to buy their lands of dealers, at double and many times, more than double, the usual cost at government price" (Genesee Farmer, XVII [1856], 116). The Janesville Free Press opposed the issuance of land warrants for military service on the ground that nine-tenths would be in the hands of speculators who got the best lands, increased prices, prevented men with small capitals from coming in, or placed them at the mercy of eastern capitalists (cited in Colman's Rural World or Valley Farmer, V [1853], 177). In Minnesota, speculators were said to have located a great many land warrants as well as having purchased much of the best land -- "a great curse to a new country" and a disadvantage to the actual settler (Andrews, op. cit., pp. 129-30). Emigrants were reported returning from Kansas in 1856 because "all the locations on which there is timber or water are in the hands of claimants or speculators" (Wisconsin and Iowa Farmer, VII [1856], 186). Speculation was not absent in the South (Southern Cultivator, XI [1853], 276).

Such speculation could not fail to make itself felt in the East. "In 1857, it is probable that upwards of eight hundred millions of dollars were invested in idle Western lands, and lots in proposed cities, which had been paid for to the extent of one-fourth, the remainder continually being paid in installments" (D. W. Mitchell, Ten Years in the United States [1862], p. 328). "In all parts of the East, and here in New York as well as elsewhere there prevails a great inclination to emigrate westward. There is also a continuous stream of money, issuing from those who remain behind, that goes westward to be invested in new lands. The country banks here, which usually hold large deposits of money belonging to the rich agricultural community around, all complain of their deposits being completely drawn away" (Ohio Valley Farmer, II [1857], 74). "We are told that a certain bank, in a certain dairy county in the centre of this State had on deposit, in the spring of 1856, the sum of $455,000, money of the farmers. Week before last its deposit account footed up only some $25,000, and the farmers of that county were borrowing money for their spring's operations. The deposits in the bank had been drawn down for investment in the far West. A portion went directly into lands to be held for a rise. The residue and the larger part was transmitted to be loaned at three, four, five and six percent a month, on real estate security and legal assurance of unlimited usury laws. We have also been informed that the surplus moneys of very many counties of this State have gone the same way as the deposited earnings of the dairy district mentioned" (Albany Evening Journal, cited in Western Farm Journal, I [1856], 148; Maine Farmer, May 28, 1857).

It is of interest to note that speculation was not confined to the West. There was during the fifties, for example, much speculation in lands around New York City. Cincinnati mechanics were reported as having invested in lots in villages around that city (American Agriculturist, XII [1854], 322). Cf. American Agriculturist, XII (1854), 128; X (1856), 63; Iowa Farmer, V (1857), 98; Maine Farmer, April 30, 1857; Northwestern Farmer, IV (1859), 277; Ohio Cultivator, VIII (1852), 334; Prairie Farmer, XIV (1854), 217; Rural New Yorker, VII (1856), 242 and 358; Wisconsin Farmer, VIII (1856), 487; Gates, op. cit., chap, vi; Benjamin Horace Hibbard, History of the Public Land Policies (1924), pp. 220-25; Addison E. Sheldon, Land System and Land Policies in Nebraska ("Publications of the Nebraska State Historical Society," Vol. XXII [1936]), pp. 39-46.

37 The census reported 28,336,345 acres assessed for tax purposes of which 4,170,496 acres were improved and 4,784,886 acres were attached to farms but unimproved (Census Returns of the Diferent Counties of the State of Iowa for the Year 1862 [1863], pp. 61-64). With regard to these figures W. D. Wilson (Description of Iowa and Its Resources [1865], p. 82) says: "Of the taxable lands, it is very probable that not less than 15,000,000 acres are owned by non-residents." And further: "Yet the most of them can be obtained for from $2.50 to $5.00 per acre, even in the older settled counties, and from five to ten miles from railroads in, or soon to be in operation." Paul Wallace Gates estimated that 9,000,000 acres in Illinois were in the hands of speculators in 1856 ("The Disposal of the Public Domain in Illinois, 1848-1856," Journal of Economic and Business History, III [1931], 321).

38 Speaking of farms being established in the West, one observer commented: "Of the whole number thus commenced, the owners of about one-half remain on these new places as permanent residents. The other half consists of a nomad class, that is wandering, but never satisfied in any one place. They either enter Government land, or buy from some railroad or other company at a moderate price, commence farming operations by putting up a shanty and a few rods of fence, and breaking from ten to forty acres of land. They raise a sod crop of corn and sometimes a wheat crop and then a fit of restlessness takes possession of them, and thinking they are making money when they are able to get $5 per acre more for their land than what they gave for it, they sell out, and make a new purchase either in the same State or farther West" (American Agriculturist, XVI [1857], 277). Another wrote: "They are a class by themselves. They never have a home for ten years in a place. They 'settle' as they call it -- on the outskirts of civilization -- remain a few years in clearing up and 'bringing to' a patch of land. Sometimes they own it and sometimes not. As soon as society begins to thicken inconveniently around them, they get discontented, pull up stakes, and hie off to another wild, unsettled region. A better class comes in, buys out their investments for a trifle and settle themselves permanently on their squat-tings" (ibid., XV [1856], 224). Cf. American Farmer's Magazine, VIII (1858), 212; Indiana Farmer, IV (1854-55), 146; Plough, Loom and Anvil, VI (1854), 594; Prairie Farmer, XII (1852), 378; Rural New Yorker, VII (1856), 122; New York State Agricultural Society, Annual Report, XXI (1852), 682-83; Andrews, op. cit., p. 115; Smith, op. cit., p. 101.

39 "For the last ten years there has been a vast migration to Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota and Nebraska. This has uniformily been the case with all the states where lands come to $30 or $50 per acre and is caused simply by the fact that it then becomes a speculation for farmers to sell out and commence new farms at government prices" (Journal of Commerce [New York, February 11, 1857], quoting the Cincinnati Gazette). The prominence of Ohioans among westward migrants was explained thus: "Here soil is too rich and dear to retain a dense population. A poor man can earn enough from a three years' lease on his neighbor's farm to move West, buy a quarter or half section and set up free-holder for himself. A farmer with a few acres of land can sell it to his richer neighbor, go West, and purchase a large farm.

"The temptation is too powerful to be resisted. Thus the large farms are becoming larger and the small free holds are becoming absorbed in them" (Iowa Farmer, II [1854], 87-88). A similar analysis is applied to emigration from Illinois: "Many of the land owners of this region are the worthy pioneers who settled it when it belonged to the United States, and have since purchased it. As soon as the Nebraska bill passed many of them thought earnestly of emigrating thither. They saw that land was rising so much above $1.25 per acre, that with their limited means they should not be able to give each of their children 160 acres of prairie and 40 of timber as they always hoped to do and had for their older children. Now that this unprecedented drought has come upon us, many of them are determined to emigrate soon. They are determined to sell their farms at some price" (Prairie Farmer, XIV [1854], 346).

40 "For the benefit of those preferring improved lands, I would say that the Oregon and California fevers are continually seizing our oldest pioneer settlers and often others, and they consider it quite a treat to be 'bought out/ These improved lands sell for $8 to $15, and sometimes $20 per acre; are not much injured by culture, and are very desirable spots for the exact farmer, who can bear to have his farm bounded by other cultivated lands instead of the open wilds; in other words, for those who can bear the restraints of civilization." The reference is to Illinois (Prairie Farmer, XII [1852], 378). Cf. Rural New Yorker, VII (1856), 58, 122; Farmer's Companion and Horticultural Gazette, III (1853), 184; Iowa Farmer, I (1853), 216.

41 In western Missouri: "Choice tracts of wild land are now selling for from $3 to $5 per acre. Improved lands from $4 to $8. The improvements consist of log houses, and stables, and more or less land plowed and fenced, with now and then a peach orchard" (North-western Review, I, No. 7 [1857], 35, cited in Rural New Yorker, VIII [1857], 382). In Illinois "a fair average for unimproved farms would be from three to eight dollars per acre, for improved farms from five to twenty-five dollars, depending upon the location with reference to a village and the value of the improvements upon them" (G. W. Hawes, Illinois State Gazetteer and Business Directory, 1858-1859, p. xxxiii). Prices are very commonly quoted. See Illinois Farmer, II (1857), 184-85; New England Farmer, VIII (1856), 260-61; Northern Farmer, III (1856), 209; Ohio Cultivator, XI (1855), 170; Prairie Farmer, XIV (1854), 217, 241, 346; Rural New Yorker, V (1854), 294; Gerhard, op. cit., pp. 401-5.

42 "This, usually, is the better way for emigrants from old farms because they thus procure farms where improvements are begun and some land is already prepared for crops, and it has a habitable tenement for their families, until they have time to prepare a better one. We believe the very best bargains, and many of the best locations for permanent homes are made in buying out these pioneers" (American Agriculturist, XV [1856], 224). "There is here a great deal of government land not taken up in the Northwestern counties [the reference is to Iowa], but there are thousands of farms for sale, now in first or second hands, from $2 to $10 an acre, that are cheaper in the end than to purchase government lands at $1.25. We mean by this, that as a man has but one lease of life, if he can command a few hundred dollars, he had better pay $5 an acre for his farm where it is already settled than $1.25 for that where it is a desolate wilderness" (Northern Farmer, III [1856], 395). "You can buy an improved farm cheaper than you can buy wild land and improve it" (Iowa Farmer, I [1853], 192-93). Cf. William and Robert Chamber, The Emigrant's Manual (1851), pp. 119-21; Freeman, op. cit., p. 95; Regan, op. cit., pp. 353 and 356; Smith, op. cit., pp. 81, 85, 105. There were also arguments against the purchase of "second-hand" land. "The emigrant who has only a small capital to start with, will naturally seek the cheapest method of getting a home, and among the many farms offered for sale, and the rich prairies inviting the farmer to labor, he will be in doubt as to what he should buy. A careful comparison of the cost of making the usual improvements on a western farm, with the cost of wild prairie, convinces us that the latter is decidedly the cheapest. A man who has not calculated the difference will pay $15 an acre for an improved farm -- as it is called -- when he could get the same quality of unimproved land close to hand for $5 an acre. A house ready to go into with his family and fields already enclosed are tempting baits to the weary emigrants, but a simple calculation will convince him that the improvements have cost him twice as much as they are worth. Often in their purchase the emigrant must take from one to two hundred acres of unimproved land with the farm, and for which he pays the full price of unimproved lands . . . ." (North-western Review, I, No. 6 [1857], 4-5). Cf. Illinois Farmer, I (1856), 26; New England Farmer, VII (1855), 554; Gregory, op. cit., p. 310.

43 Cultivator, IX (new ser., 1852), 67; Ohio Cultivator, IX (1853), 338-39; Thomas Mooney, Nine Years in America (1850), pp. 20-21.

44 Knight, op. cit., pp. 80-81.

45 Maine: Maine State Land Office, Circular from the Land Office Descriptive of the Public Lands of Maine (1858), p. 4; Maine Land Agent, Annual Report (1853), pp. 6-7; Maine, Governor's Annual Message (1860), pp. 10-11; Maine Board of Agriculture, Annual Report, IV (1859), 180; Maine Farmer, September 26, 1850; April 21, 1853; August 11, 1853; August 3, 1854; March 5, 1859; August 25, 1859; October 5, 1859.

Arkansas: Arkansas, Report of the Swamp Land Secretary Made to the Governor for 1859-1860 (i860); Scientific American, III (1860), 389.

46 American Agriculturist, XVIII (1859), 271 and 315; James M. Lewis, Arkansas Commissioner of Immigration and State Land: Natural Resources of the State of Arkansas (1869).

47 Alden S. Lang, Financial History of the Public Lands of Texas (Baylor University Bull., Vol. XXXV [1932]), pp. 46-48; Reuben McKitrick, The Public Land System of Texas (University of Wisconsin Bull., ''Economics and Political Science Series," Vol. IX [1918]), pp. 49-52.

48 E. W. Farnham, Life in Prairie Land (1855), pp. 328-29; Mooney, op. cit., p. 19; Parker, Kansas and Nebraska Handbook (1857), pp. 66-68; Jacob Ferris, The Great West (1856), p. 319; Maine Farmer, May 26, 1853; B. O. Shambaugh, "Frontier Land Clubs or Claim Associations," American Historical Association Reports, I (1901), 69-84; C. J. Ritchey, "Claim Associations and Pioneer Democracy in Early Minnesota," Minnesota History, IX (1928), 89-95.

49 Horace Greeley wrote: "I am confident there is not at this hour any kind of a house or other sign of improvement on one-fourth of the quarter-sections throughout Kansas which have been secured by preemption. The squatter who thus establishes a 'claim' sells it out, so soon as practicable, to some speculator, who follows in his wake, getting from $50 to $300 for that which the future bona-fide settler will be required to pay $250 to $1,500 for.....To see a man squatted on a quarter-section in a cabin which would make a fair hog-pen, but is unfit for a human habitation, and there living from hand to mouth by a little of this and a little of that, with hardly an acre of prairie broken (sometimes without a fence up), with no garden, no fruit-trees, 'no nothing' -- waiting for some one to come along and buy out his Claim and let him move on to repeat the operation somewhere else -- this is enough to give a cheerful man the horrors" (An Overland Journey from New York to San Francisco [1860], pp. 65, 70).

50 The farm-making frontiers of the 1850's were not confined to the frontier of settlement but were rather very broad. They included parts of Maine, Georgia, Florida, New York, Pennsylvania, western Virginia, besides the major belt: Michigan west into Minnesota, Indiana into Nebraska, Missouri, and Kansas, Alabama into western Texas.

51 Op. cit., p. 02.

52 The comment of the Maine State Land Office directed at western lands that "cheapness ends with the price of land" was universally applicable (Circular from the Land Office Descriptive of the Public Lands of Maine [1858], p. 13).

53 Lands in Aroostook County, Maine, which could be purchased for 50 cents per acre required $15 per acre for clearing (Maine Farmer, August 3, 1854; Maine Board of Agriculture, Annual Report, V [1860], p. 205; New York State Agricultural Society, Annual Report, XI [1851], 681). The cost of clearing Michigan woodlands was estimated at $10 per acre (E. H. Thomson, Emigrant's Guide to the State of Michigan [1849], p. 11), and the cost of clearing and fencing Minnesota timbered lands was given as from $18 to $30 per acre (Parker, Minnesota Handbook for 1856-57 [1857], p. 131; cf. Parker, Missouri Handbook, p. 131; Wisconsin State Agricultural Society, Transactions [1851], pp. 243-46).

54 Michigan Farmer, VIII (1850), 275; IX (1851), 70-71; Ohio Cultivator, XV (1859), 36 and 119; Southern Cultivator, XI (1854), 209. In the South the "almost universal practice" was to girdle the trees and let them stand to rot in the moist climate four or five years (American Agriculturist, XIX [i860], 32).

55 Ohio Cultivator, XV (1859), 2-3.

56 Michigan Farmer, IX (1851), 70-71; VIII (1850), 265 and 374; XIII (1855), 365; New Jersey Farmer, III (1857), 216.

57 Michigan Farmer, VIII (1850), 11; XII (1854), 231-32; Northern Farmer, I (1854), 261; Ohio Cultivator, XV (1859), 54.

58 Michigan Farmer, IX (1851), 70-71; VIII (1850), 275; XII (1854), 297; Rural New Yorker, X (1859), 262; Marshall, op. cit., pp. 18 and 21.

59 Michigan Farmer, IX (1851), 71; XIII (1855), 365-66; VIII (1850), 374; Southern Cultivator, XI (1854), 209.

60 Michigan Farmer, VIII (1850), 265.

61 Northwestern Farmer and Horticultural Journal, II (1857), 216; Cultivator, IX (new ser., 1852), 67; Prairie Farmer, XI (1851), 151.

62 Illinois Farmer, V (i860), 150; Plough, Loom and Anvil, VI (1854), 519-20; Parker, Iowa as It Is in 1835, p. 72; Franklin Langworthy, Scenery of the Plains, Mountains and Mines (185^), p. 273.

63 "If there is anything that should be well done on a farm, it is this breaking up of virgin sod" (Prairie Farmer, III [new ser., 1859], 339). A poorly broken field might require to be entirely broken again and, in any case, would cause serious difficulties in working the soil (Rural New Yorker, X [1859], 204).

64 This period is stated as from May 1 to June 30 in Illinois (Rural New Yorker, III [1852], 358; Prairie Farmer, III [new ser., 1859], 339; Gerhard, op. cit., p. 311); May 10 to July 10 in Wisconsin (Wisconsin Cultivator, VIII [1851], 277-78); May 15 to July 15 in Minnesota (Northwestern Farmer and Horticultural Journal, V [i860], 352-53); May 1 to July 15 in Kansas (Dana, op. cit., p. 214); May 1 to August 1 in Iowa (Genesee Farmer, XVIII [1857], 141). Cf. Marshall, op. cit., pp. 399-402.

65 "In Kansas where we have much land to spare, the sod is generally turned under during the summer and allowed to decay till the next spring, and then when plowed over again, yields enormously" (New England Farmer, XII [i860], 250-51). Cf. Prairie Farmer, II (new ser., 1858), 312; Cultivator, VII (new ser., 1850), 277-78; Dana, op. cit., p. 214.

66 Illinois Farmer, II (1857), 151; Prairie Farmer, XIV (1854), 361-62.

67 "It is a very common practice throughout the entire western prairie country to get the sod broken by contract at a given price per acre, which ranges from $1.50 to $2.50 according to contract, according to the character of the work and the local influences governing the value of labor" (Cultivator, IX [new ser., 1852], 67). "Many thousands of acres are thus broken up" (American Agriculturist, XVI [1857], 252). "The cost of breaking prairie is from two to three dollars an acre; it is principally done by men who keep teams for the purpose and do their work by the job. A three horse team will break two acres per day, and a heavy ox team with a 36 inch plough will break three acres per day" (Gerhard, op. cit., p. 311). Cf. Ferris, op. cit., p. 210; Parker, Kansas and Nebraska Handbook, p. 36; Stirling, op. cit., pp. 18-19; Genesee Farmer, XVII (1856), 84-85; Northwestern Farmer, I (1856), 128; Plough, Loom and Anvil, V (1853), 519-20.

68 Costs of breaking by contract are very frequently quoted -- e.g., Illinois: $2.00 (Ohio Cultivator, IX [1853], 338-39); $2.50 and board (Genesee Farmer, XVII [1856], 84-85); $2.00-$2.50 (Northwestern Farmer, I [1856], 128); $1.50-$2.50 (Gerhard, op. cit., pp. 294-300 and 412); $2.50-$3.00 (American Agriculturist, XVI [1857], 252). Iowa: $3.00 (Prairie Farmer, XV [1855], 159); $1.50-$2.50 (Cultivator, IX [new ser., 1852], 67); $2.25~$2.5o (Parker, Iowa Handbook for 1855, pp. 67, 72). Kansas: $3.00 (Maine Farmer, September 2, 1858); $3.50-$5.00 (New England Farmer, XII [i860], 89); $2.50-14.00 (Parker, Kansas and Nebraska Handbook, P- 36); $3.00 (Dana, op. cit., p. 214). Minnesota: $8.oo-$i2.oo (Rodney C. Loehr, Minnesota Farmer's Diaries [1939], p. 15); $4.50-7.00 (Parker, Minnesota Handbook, p. 131). Missouri: $2.50-$3.00 (North-western Review, I, No. 7 [1857], 35). Wisconsin: $1.75-$2.00 (Cultivator, VII [new ser., 1850], 277-78); $3.00 (Wisconsin State Agricultural Society, Transactions, I [1851], 243-46).

69 "The first summer is usually spent in breaking, the fall in building, and the winter in getting out fence.....In subsequent years, the proceedings are much the same as in older countries, except that in many cases the fence is incomplete the second year." The reference is to Minnesota (Plough, Loom and Anvil, IV [1852], 687-88). Cf. Parker, Iowa as It Is in 1855, pp. 73 and 80.

70 Ohio Cultivator, IX (1853), 338-39; Northern Farmer, I (1854), 290-91; Plough, Loom and Anvil, VI (1854), 519-20; Prairie Farmer, XV (1855), 344; Working Farmer, VIII (1856), 35; Gerhard, op. cit., pp. 293-307 and 412.

71 "In order to farm successfully, even on the fertile prairies of the 'Great West' the first consideration, after all, is to be able to fence . . . ." (Prairie Farmer, XIV [1856], 146). "Our fence is the heaviest matter we have to attend to, but one that cannot be neglected" (Colman's Rural World and Valley Farmer, II [1850], 74). In Minnesota "the first winter is usually spent in getting out rails and fencing stuff to enclose the ground he purposes to cultivate the next season" (American Agriculturist, XII [1854], 128). Cf. Cultivator, VII (new ser., 1854), 277-78; Carolina Cultivator, I (1856), 163-64; Farmer's Journal, III (Raleigh, N.C., 1854), 204; Genesee Farmer, XVII (1856), 84-85; Plough, Loom and Anvil, IV (1852), 687-88; Rural American, I (1856), 130; Michigan Farmer, XIV (1856), 68-69; U.S. Economist, II (1853), 2; Tippecanoe Farmer, I (1854-55), 6; Loehr, op. cit., p. 15.

72 "A large proportion of the prairie farms are cultivated without a fence to protect the first year's crops" (Rural American, I [1856], 130). "It is several years, usually, before the whole farm gets enclosed" (American Agriculturist, XII [1854], 128). "But few farms are well fenced" (Plough, Loom and Anvil, VI [1854], 328-29). Cf. American Agriculturist, XV (1856), 74; Michigan Farmer, XIV (1856), 68-69; New Hampshire Journal ofAgriculture, October 20, i860, referring to Illinois; Plough, Loom and Anvil, IV (1854), 687-88; VIII (1858), 212; Rural New Yorker, VIII (1857), 269, referring to Illinois; Rural Register, II (i860), 356; Beste, op. cit., I, 165; Caird, op. cit., p. 50; Regan, op. cit., p. 349.

73 Prairie Farmer, XI (1851), 164; Carolina Cultivator, I (1855), 226; Country Gentleman, VI (1855), 368; Colman's Rural World or Valley Farmer, II (1850), 125; U.S. Patent Office, Report: Agriculture (1851), p. 390.

74 Prairie Farmer, XII (1852), 199-200.

75 According to the census, the area under cultivation was 4,170,496 acres, that under fence 4,784,886 acres, and that attached to farms but unimproved 4,135,613 acres (Wilson, op. cit., p. 82).

76 Few subjects received more attention in the agricultural press than did that of fencing; scarcely a number of any of the journals failed to discuss the costs of fencing or the desirability of securing some substitute for the wood fence. See Rural New Yorker, VI (1855), 221 ff.; Indiana Farmer, V (1856), 344 and 361-62.

77 American Agriculturist, XVI (1852), 278; American Institute of the City of New York, Reports (1859-60), pp. 151-53.

78 It was estimated that the amount expended in building fencing in the largely forested state of Wisconsin exceeded the original cost of all the enclosed land in the state (Prairie Farmer, XIV [1854], 324). The costs of fencing were particularly heavy in Texas and California. In Texas, "the expense of fencing a farm is two or three times greater than the first cost of the farm itself" (Plough, Loom and Anvil VII [1855], 417). Langworthy thought that it would cost $1,400 to fence a 40-acre field in California {op. cit., p. 195). Other estimates place the cost of fencing in California at from $300 to $600 per mile (J. S. Hittel, Resources of California [1863], p. 165; Rural New Yorker, IX [1858], 110). The costs of the fences were said to exceed the selling value of many New England farms (American Farmer, I [new ser., 1861], 52). Cf. Freedley, op. cit., p. 74.

79 Large areas in Illinois were reported fenced with timber from northern Wisconsin and Minnesota (Indiana State Board of Agriculture, Annual Report [1854-55], p. 231). One of the benefits expected of the building of the Illinois Central Railroad was that it would furnish the prairies with cheap lumber (Ferris, op. cit., p. 209).

80 The editor of the Indiana Farmer wrote with reference to his state: "The man who owns a farm of 80 acres and has two-thirds of it enclosed, and divided into fields of convenient size, has about 1200 rods of fencing. This at a fair estimate is worth about 75 cents per rod, making a total of $900 as the prime cost of his fences, which is equal to nearly $17.00 per acre for all the land enclosed" (Indiana Farmer, V [I856], 344). Each 120 acres in farms in Wisconsin was estimated to represent an investment of $1,000 for fencing (Wisconsin Farmer and Northwestern Cultivator, IX [1857], 116). Estimates for 40-acre fields fenced with post and board are given as $506 by Gerhard for Illinois (op. cit., p. 312); and as high as $620 for Minnesota (Western Journal and Civilian, III [1850], 339). Cf. American Agriculturist, XVIII (1859), 175; Colman's Rural World or Valley Farmer, I (1849), 31; Prairie Farmer, IV (1854), 67; Gerhard, op. cit., pp. 294-99 and 412; Dana, op. cit., p. 217.

These cost estimates compare closely with those of the older states. The cost of fencing was estimated to average $250 per mile throughout Ohio (Ohio Board of Agriculture, Annual Report, X [1855], 18 and 275; IX [1854], 192). The average costs of fencing per farm in Maine, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts where the average farm included less than 100 acres was estimated at $700, and in New York and New Jersey at $900 (American Institute, Transactions [1851], pp. 186-87). Cf. Massachusetts Board of Agriculture, Annual Report, IX (1861), 89-90; Pennsylvania Farm Journal, II (1852-53), 359; Solon Robinson, Facts for Farmers (1856), p. 861.

81 Of the plows recommended by the Valley Farmer, as good for the West, the Peoria and Moline Steel plows varied in price according to size from $8.00 to $28.00. In contrast, the Phoenix, Jewett, and Eagle plows which were cast iron varied in price from $3.00 to $20.00 with the more common sizes priced at about $6.00 to $7.50 (Colman's Rural World or Valley Farmer, IV [1854], 266; Ohio State Board of Agriculture, Annual Report, X [1855], 528-29). The steel plow was standard in the West by the middle of the decade, though its relatively high cost prevented it from entirely displacing the cast-iron implement (Gerhard, op. cit., p. 317). The Deere plow works at Moline produced 1,600 plows in 1850 and ten years later had reached an annual output of 10,000 (Robert L. Ardrey, American Agricultural Implements [1894], p. 176).

82 Broadcast sowing of wheat remained the most common method throughout Iowa during the decade (Iowa State Agricultural Society, Annual Report, VI [1859], 323-24,376, 378,402; VII [i860], 390 and 433). Drills seem to have been introduced first in 1851 in Lee County (United States Patent Office, Annual Reports: Agriculture [1851], p. 450), but the editor of the Iowa Farmer knew of only one in Burlington County up to 1853 (Iowa Farmer, I [1853], 4). By 1857 both Pennock's and Moore's drills were being manufactured in the state (ibid., V [1855], 44 and 125), and their use was spreading (United States Patent Office, Annual Report: Agriculture [1857], pp. 195, 229, 236, 243, 257, 331, 359; ibid., IV [1856], 88). Drills were in use in Missouri in 1853, and their manufacture was begun in St. Louis in the following year (United States Patent Office, Annual Report: Agriculture [1853], p. 136; Valley Farmer, IX [1857], 121 and 147; VIII [1856], 101). In 1865 they remained, however, little known (Missouri State Board of Agriculture, Annual Report [1865], p. 101).

83 "All grain is here cut by machine. Cradles are out of the question.....If grain be too badly lodged to be so gathered, it is quietly left alone." And, "You observe that this work done by machinery is not very much cheaper than it could be done by hand -- but the great question is -- where are the hands to come from?" The reference is to Illinois (Iowa Farmer, V [1857], 139). "We must purchase or hire a reaper; if we purchase one of McCormick's the price is $130.00 cost and freight; if we hire the price is from fifty to seventy-five cents per acre which is about half the cost of harvesting. In thrashing we must do the same way -- purchase or hire, which will cost five cents per bushel for wheat, and three for oats" (United States Patent Office, Annual Report: Agriculture [1852], p. 396).

84 Wisconsin Farmer and Northwestern Cultivator, VIII (1856), 440-41. Marshall (op. cit., p. 16), suggests $254 as necessary on timbered land.

85 The rate of adoption of the reaper during the fifties would seem to indicate that it was. In 1849 there were 2,800 McCormick's, 180 Easterley headers, and "say 100" of all other machines combined in the hands of users, mostly located in the East (Prairie Farmer, cited in Genesee Farmer, X [1849], 255). McCormick estimated that 73,000 reapers were in operation in the West (west of the Alleghanies) by 1859 (Country Gentleman, XIII [1859], 259-60, cited by Leo Rogin, The Introduction of Farm Machinery in Its Relation to the Productivity of Labor in Agriculture during the Nineteenth Century ["University of California Publications in Economics/' Vol. IX (1931)], p. 78); and Flint considered that the two-horse reapers in operation by 1861 performed the work of a million men (Charles L. Flint, "A Hundred Year's Progress," U.S. Department of Agriculture, Report [1872], p. 286).

86 Parker, Iowa Handbook for 1856, pp. 159-60.

87 Rural American, I (1856), 114.

88 Eighth Census of the United States, 1860: Agriculture, p. x. The southern states averaged $148 per each 100 acres in farms; the middle states, $207.

89 It was for lack of capital and not because of greater profits that wheat-farming was typical of farm-making areas in the North. "Today the production of grain for export is the most precarious and worst paid direction which the farmer of Illinois or Iowa can give to his labor. The same amount of effort devoted to the production of Horses, Cattle, Hogs or Sheep, will pay twice as well. But the poor cannot await slow returns and the labor invested in growing Spring wheat or planting Corn can be turned into Cash in the course of six months, while the stock grower must wait three or four years for his reward; so Grain will be grown and shipped, at least until the farmers of the Northwest shall be less generally harrassed by debt" (Working Farmer, XI [1859], 39). Cf. American Agriculturist, X (1852), 117; Iowa Farmer, I (1853), 254; Prairie Farmer, X (1850), 299; Rural New Yorker, II (1851), 403; Wisconsin and Iowa Farmer, II (1850), 254; Wisconsin and Iowa Farmer and Northwestern Cultivator, IV (1852), 58-59.

90 Farm horses were valued at from $100 to $150 each in the northern farm-making regions; oxen at $80 to $100 per yoke; mules $100-$200 (Parker, Kansas and Nebraska Handbook, p. 36).

91 In Minnesota, an investment of $315 was suggested to include a yoke of oxen, two cows, one horse, swine, and young stock (New Hampshire Journal of Agriculture, April 14, 1859). Gerhard thought that "a pair of good horses, a wagon, one cow, a couple of pigs, several domestic fowls .... are all that is necessary for a beginning" (op. cit., p. 446), the group requiring probably about $300. In Texas, where livestock was very cheap, two yoke of oxen, a cart, one hoe, five cows, calves, and a supply of hogs and poultry were estimated to require $260 (Southern Cultivator, XIII [1856], 125). Cf. Rural New Yorker, V (1854), 222.

92 "An investment of $560 was suggested to include a "good substantial low-priced horse team, wagon and harness, five cows, pigs and poultry" (Wisconsin Farmer and Northwestern Cultivator, VIII [1856], 440-41).

93 "If we only had the money to buy them with" (New Hampshire Journal of Agriculture, June 2, i860). Cf. Prairie Farmer, XIV (1854), 165-66.

94 Gerhard, op. cit., pp. 294-303; Parker, Kansas and Nebraska Handbook, p. 37.

95 "It will be seen that the cost of 'breaking' must be advanced about fifteen months before any returns can be obtained from the land. There are very many who cannot make the advance. It is, in fact, a serious impediment to the advancement of all farmers, even after they have obtained a fair beginning" (Wisconsin Farmer and Northwestern Cultivator, IX [1857], 122). Cf. Plough, Loom and Anvil, VII (1855), 493; Loehr, op. cit., p. 15; n. 63 above.

96 "Any farmer of ordinary capacity having his team and tools, and being on the ground by the first of April, will be able to raise enough food to keep his family through the winter till another harvest" (Parker, Kansas and Nebraska Handbook, p. 24).

97 Northern Farmer, I (1854), 440; New Hampshire Journal of Agriculture, April 14, 1859; Smith, op. cit., p. 103.

98 "Half a crop" (Cultivator, VII [1850], 277-78). "I have raised partial crops of 'sod corn,' on my earliest breaking .... but of course, only partial crops" (Rural New Yorker, VI [1855], 358). "Indian corn is frequently sown as the first grain on newly broken lands; but as there is no reliance to be placed upon sod-corn many farmers prefer to leave the broken land lying fallow, until September, when it is sown with wheat" (Gerhard, op. cit., p. 323). "Of course, every farmer knows that newly-plowed ground never yields a great crop the first season" (New England Farmer, XII [i860], 250-51). Cf. American Agriculturist, XII (1850), 128; DeBow's Commercial Review, XXI (1856), 96-97; Genesee Farmer, XVII (1856), 84-85; XVIII (1857), 141; Plough, Loom and Anvil, VI (1854), 519-20.

99 Rural New Yorker, X (1859), 204.

100 Indiana Farmer, III (1853), 292.

101 Cunynghame, op. cit., pp. 103-6; DeBow's Commercial Review, X (1851), 640-41; XXI (1856), 96-97; Rural Register, I (1859), 9) Wisconsin Farmer, VIII (1856), 440-41; Smith, op. cit., 106.

102 "The emigration itself furnishes him a local market and by the time that fails, railways will secure him a more permanent though perhaps less profitable market" (Stirling, op. cit., pp. 18-19). "The immigrant for the first year is a purchaser and consumer, and of course creates a temporary home demand for our produce" (Iowa State Agricultural Society, Annual Report, II [1854], 38). "Already with thousands of emigrants coming into our territory who necessarily have to be sustained for at least twelve months before their labors aid in swelling the common fund, and with other thousands passing through bound for the Pacific coast with their herds and flocks, consuming as they go vast quantities of grain, the amount of produce shipped from our river towns is very great" (Iowa Farmer, I [1853], $$). The references are to Iowa. A resident of Wisconsin wrote: "Corn we raise in large quantities, but consume it principally at home.....Small quantities only have been hitherto exported; as besides the uses first mentioned, we have had a large influx of hungry Germans and other emigrants to feed, who have consumed no small amount of our marketable grain, while they were preparing the means to live themselves and afford the staff of life to others" (American Agriculturist, IX [1851], 15). The rapid growth of Minnesota was ascribed to the "ready market which is found in the limits of the territory for everything which can be raised from a generous soil.....This arises from extensive emigration" (Israel D. Andrews, Report on the Trade and Commerce of the British North American Colonies and upon the Trade of the Great Lakes and Rivers [1853], p. 171). "Multitudes have rushed from the farm to the building of railroads, from cultivating the soil to speculating in land, from homes in the East where on a harden soil, they were producing a little more than they consumed, to homes in the more fertile West, where, of course, they produce for a year or two, at first, less than they consume" (American Farmer's Magazine, X [1858], 193-94). "The probability is that we shall have food enough for our needs, which has not been the case previously since the settlement of this territory" (American Agriculturist, XIX [1860], 15, referring to Nebraska). A similar comment is made with reference to Sheboygan County, Wisconsin, concluding that enough will be produced to support its permanent and transient population, "something that the best counties in the state cannot boast of" (Wisconsin and Iowa Farmer and Northwest Cultivator, III [1851], 145). Cf. Colman's Rural World or Valley Farmer, IX (1857), 335; American Agriculturist, XII (1854), 128; Ohio Farmer, VIII (1859), 386 and 409; Wisconsin and Iowa Farmer, VII (1854), 41.

103 Dana, op. cit., p. 394. The cost of the trip from New York to Nebraska by-rail or rail and water was about $45 (James M. Woolworth, Nebraska in 1857 [1857], p. 9). Cf. F. W. Bogen, The German in America (1851), p. 49; Joseph H. Colton, The Emigrant's Handbook (1848), p. 134; Regan, op. cit., pp. 403-4.

104 "Land in the far West at only $1.25 per acre is sometimes practically almost as remote and inaccessible to citizens of the United States as to the good people of Amsterdam and Harlem themselves . . . ." (U.S. Patent Office, Reports: Agriculture [1855], p. 128). "The fertile farms of Iowa and Minnesota, the rich plains of Kansas and Nebraska, the gold and silver of Montana, Colorado and California, are all his -- if he can only get to them. It is only to 'go West.' But a poor man with a family finds it as difficult to get from his one room tenement house in New York to a farm beyond the Mississippi as a Londoner in Bethnal Green would to transport himself to Australia" (T. L. Nichols, Forty Years of American Life [1937 ed.], p. 414).

105 Country Gentleman, IV (1854), 157; Northern Farmer, I (1854), 440; Southern Cultivator, XIII (1856), 125; C. B. Boynton and T. B. Mason, Journey through Kansas: With Sketches of Nebraska (1855), pp. 68-69; Parker, Kansas and Nebraska Handbook, p. 37; Dana, op. cic, p. 213; Webb, op. cit., p. 17; Regan, op. cit., pp. 189 and 401.

106 In Illinois, though the figure is applicable to the prairie regions in general (Rural American, I [1856], 114). A two-room house, 14 by 26 feet, was quoted at $225-$250; a five-room house, 16 by 28 feet, one and a half floors, at $400-$425-Caird estimates the cost of a three-room house, 18 by 24 feet, at $200 (op. cit., p. 50). Parker quotes with approval the observation that a four-room house, 24 by 24 feet, could be built for $3oo-$35o; a five-room, 20 by 28, one and a half stories, for $450-$500 (Iowa Handbook for 1836, pp. 159-60). The Illinois Central Railroad advertised its willingness to supply purchasers of its land with the materials for houses ready to set up at a cost of $150 for a two-room house, $400 for a four-room house, and $500 for five rooms (Northwestern Farmer, and Horticultural Journal, I [1856], 128). Cf. American Agriculturist, XVI (1857), 252; Dana, op. cit., pp. 213-14; Marshall, op. cit., chap, iv; Regan, op. cit., pp. 300 ff.; Smith, op. cit., pp. 17, 43, 79.

107 The items include the breaking of 40 acres of prairie on contract at $2.50 per acre, or $100; fencing this 40 acres, $320; seed and implements, $100, which is a low figure; livestock, $250; maintenance, $100; housing, $250. This total of $1,120 includes no provision for land or for travel expenses. The land was obtainable on credit or by squatting on the federal domain; its purchase required from $100 to $1,000 more. Though the figure for fencing may be considered somewhat high, it cannot reasonably be reduced, nor can any of the other items be cut to bring the capital required below $1,000, though credit might be obtained for part.

108 In defense of the safety-valve doctrine, descriptions of farm-making involving less capital than we have suggested may easily be obtained. Such accounts commonly ignore various elements of the farm-making process and are generally stamped with the extreme optimism characteristic of the speculative atmosphere of the frontier. The following is an illustration: "We will suppose a blacksmith, a carpenter or some one who has been supporting a family and saving a very little by his daily labor in the eastern and middle states, makes up his mind in April or May to come to the state of Illinois. He can count when he gets here, all told, say $150, perhaps twice as much, or at most four times that amount. He locates or to use the classical language of the country, 'squats' near a grove on the border of some fine prairie. Not an acre is 'fenced in' for miles around. In a week or two .... he has a log cabin built and his wife and their children .... are safely housed.....He has taken care, after he makes his location, to find who owns the land he is on. If it belongs to the government, he takes out a preemption, or enters it at $1.25 per acre; if it belongs to some individual, he has got a bond for a deed, at from three to five dollars per acre, payable 'one quarter down,' the balance in one, two and three years, or longer. A few days finds half an acre fenced in and the garden seeds are all planted. Twenty acres are at once plowed, the corn is planted. Then hurrah for the fence while it is coming up. Drive the cattle off on the prairie for a week or two, if the fence don't get done in time, and as for the venerable, matronly old porker, with her numerous family, she must be kept in the yard till the corn is ripe. Fall finds him with six or eight hundred bushels of corn, potatoes and pork enough for his family for the winter, and three or four fine hogs to spare, hay enough for his cattle, cut wherever he pleased on the prairies, and his corn ground sown with winter wheat" (Hawes, op. cit., p. xxxiii). Cf. n. 26.

109 "In the business of squatting on the public lands, there is a deal of delusion. The settlers are too apt to think that, having got a claim to a hundred and sixty acres of land, they have got a farm; whereas all they have got is a part of the raw material out of which, with labor and expense, patient waiting, and the investment of capital a farm may be made" (Maine Farmer, May 5, 1859).

110 The census of i860 estimated that the 4,000,000 foreign-born enumerated in i860 had brought not less than $400,000,000 into the country. A record kept of third-class passengers (immigrants) arriving at Castle Garden, the immigrant depot of New York City, by the Commissioners of Immigration of the State of New York, revealed an average of $65 brought in per passenger. Other estimates ranged from $60 to $180 per passenger (U.S. Eighth Census: Population, 1860, p. xxiv). William Hayes Lord wrote: "I have known hundreds of German families who have taken out with them from 10,000 to 40,000 florins each family -- from $5,000 to $20,000. It may be admitted as a fact that out of twenty German emigrants, nineteen take out with them the means to establish themselves in the inland states" (A Tract for the Times [1855], p. 25). On the other hand, it was believed that "nearly three-fourths of the whole expense of emigration from Ireland is being defrayed by remittances made by previous emigrants" (Baird, op. cit., p. 340). The U.S. Census of i860 reported that from 1850 to i860 some $50,000,000 was remitted by private individuals from the United States to Great Britain through large banking and mercantile firms (Population, p. xxiv; cf. Rural New Yorker, IV [1853], 18). The best study of this problem is that of Marcus Lee Hansen, The Atlantic Migration, 1607-1860 (1940), pp. 243 f.

111 High land prices in the East were observed to stimulate agricultural emigration to the West (Rural New Yorker, V [1854], 317). The English agriculturist, Johnston, pointed out that "speaking generally, every farm from Eastport in Maine to Buffalo on Lake Erie, is for sale. The owner has already fixed a price in his mind for which he would be willing, and even hopes to sell, believing that, with the same money, he could do better for himself and his family by going still farther West" (James F. W. Johnston, Notes on North America: Agricultural, Economic and Social, I [1851], 162-63).

112 Edward Young, Labor in Europe and America (1876), p. 743. Skilled labor received from $1.50 to $2.00 per day (ibid., p. 745).

113 Ibid., pp. 739-42.

114 "If a young man saves $52 a year he is doing well" (New Hampshire Journal of Agriculture, December 17, 1859). The observation was made of New England farm operators that they "do not average saving one hundred dollars yearly, each" (Homestead, III [1858], 221). "Is not a farmer who saves this amount [$100] doing well?" (New Hampshire Journal of Agriculture, December 24, 1859). Cf. New England Farmer, VII (1855), 454.

115 Emigrants were urged to form groups in the East which would include all the necessary trades in the desirable proportions (The West as It Is: The Chicago Magazine, I [1857], 341-44). The suggested occupational distribution of such a group is given in Daniel S. Curtiss, Western Portraiture, and Emigrant's Guide (1852), pp. 292-93.

116 There is no doubt that some mechanics emigrated, but there is considerable question as to how many. This is the issue between Goodrich and Davison, on the one hand, and Schafer, on the other. See n. 1 above.

117 Tucker, op. cit.,p. 176.