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Download Comparative frontiers, a proposal for studying the American by Jerome O. Steffen PDF

By Jerome O. Steffen

A examine of the way to check the West

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Another variable associated with frontier agriculture was the scarcity of labor and consequentially its high cost. The family had to act as its own labor complex, using as many of its members as possible. Two English agricultural speculators came to Illinois in the early nineteenth century with hopes of establishing a large-scale farming operation complete with large numbers of hired laborers. Unable to satisfy their labor needs, they next turned to importing laborers, but in both cases they lost the services of these individuals, who were soon able to make enough money to enter into farming on their own.

1 Hence the merchant trader had a symbiotic relationship with the nation-state. The nation-state offered the mercantile capitalist order and regulation through grants of monopoly and military protection wherever feasible. 2 The American fur-trading establishment was as much a part of the national empire-building milieu as its European counterparts and consequently faced many of the same environmental obstacles. American policy makers and the trading fraternity initially faced these problems in much the same manner.

Technological advances such as the railroad and the telegraph served to prevent the degree of insulation earlier eastern agricultural settlers had experienced. There was little need to adapt to environmental conditions because technological advances overcame the obstacles and perpetuated established practices. Plains settlers were part of Page xvii the national economy, and were rapidly incorporated into the national culture. Great Plains agricultural settlement along with the corporate stages of mining and ranching, then, were merely western extensions of national development and need to be studied from that perspective.

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