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Missouri at the end of the 19th century


Missouri national park
Missouri national park

Missouri, which had the largest population among slave states in 1860, continued its rapid growth after the Civil War. It ranked fifth among the states in population from 1870 to 1900. This growth was principally in the newer inland counties and in the lead mining and zinc mining areas in southwestern Missouri. The mining boom of the 1870s led to the development of Joplin and other smaller towns.

However, progress was not uniform. Nationwide economic slumps in 1873 and 1893 erased the gains made by farmers during economic booms. Also, in some areas, particularly on the western border, the Civil War had caused devastation of farms.

The farmers were chronically in debt, and their debtor status was virtually guaranteed by deflation of the dollar, rising costs, and, in some counties, exploitation by the railroads. Foreign immigrants continued to come to the St. Louis and lower Missouri River areas after the war, flooding the labor market and causing wages to fall. Because of the financial difficulties of the farmers and laborers, the Greenback Party and People’s Party enjoyed great popularity in Missouri. The Greenbackers endorsed soft money (paper money whose value was not tied to the price of gold) and the People’s Party endorsed free coinage of silver, both measures that were expected to inflate the dollar and thereby help the farmers and laborers pay off their debts.But also during this period, industries and the state’s general development were stimulated by the growth of railroads. By 1870 there were 3,200 km (2,000 mi) of track, an increase of almost 250 percent in ten years. Crops could now be transported to distant markets, and livestock could be profitably carried to the new stockyards in St. Louis and Kansas City. "Missouri" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia

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