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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 54.djvu/794

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

our domestic traffic over a greater area and among a much larger number of people than have elsewhere secured their own liberty has been so much more potent in its progressive influence as to have lessened the evils of the restrictions on foreign trade.

According to my observation, all the efforts to regulate railroad charges by State legislation and under the interstate commerce act have greatly retarded the progress of the railway, and have deprived great States, notably Texas, of any service at all commensurate to the demand which might otherwise have been supplied to the mutual benefit of the owners of the railways and the inhabitants of the State. The most serious retarding influence, especially evil in its effect upon farmers, was the useless panic of 1893, caused by the silver craze—that is to say, by the effort to enact a force bill by which the producers of our great crops would have been compelled to accept money of half the purchasing power of that to which their industry had been long adjusted. This caused a temporary paralysis of industry, in which I think none suffered so much as the farmers of the country.

But admitting these temporary variations, I find the same rule governing the products of the farm that governs the mine, the factory, and the workshop—namely, a lessening of the number occupied in ratio to the product; a great reduction in the cost of labor; an increased return in due proportion of the skill and intelligence of the farmer; a rapid reduction in the farm mortgages, ending at the present date in making the farmers of the grain-growing States the creditors of the world, especially those occupied upon wheat.

But in the development of this progress we find the reverse of the practice in the factory and the workshop. The most important applications of science and invention led first to what might be called the manufacture of wheat on an extensive method of making a single crop on great areas of land. That phase has about spent its force; the great farms are in process of division; the single-crop system has about ended; the intensive system of making a larger product from a lessened area with alternation and variation in crops is rapidly taking the place of former methods.

Therefore, while many branches of manufacturing tend more and more to the collective method, the tendency in agriculture is more and more to individualism in dealing with the land itself, coupled with collective ownership in the more expensive farm machinery, in creameries, cheese factories, and the like. We are apparently at a halfway stage in this revolution of agriculture. The intelligent and intensive methods of breeding cattle and sheep is also rapidly taking the place of the semibarbarous conditions of the ranch.

If these points are well taken, the very suggestion that we must compute the land which should be under the plow in 1890 in order to