Peasant and Farmers

During 1830s, many farmers in England received letters by ‘Captain Swing’, urging them to stop using labour-saving machines. Government suppressed riots in Southern England. Till 18th century, cultivation was done in open fields, while common lands were used by all. But Enclosure Movement led to enclosure of large areas. During 19th century, Enclosure Acts were passed. Enclosed lands facilitated growth of new crops, improved land fertility and increased profits. However, the poor went to Southern England, where they worked for low wages. Agricultural expansion during Napoleonic Wars was followed by agrarian depression. Landlords used threshing machines instead of labour.

Till 1780s, white Americans lived in Eastern USA, while the rest was inhabited by Native American tribes. After American War of Independence, the whites moved westwards, driving out Native Americans. They cleared forests for cultivating corn and wheat. Large amounts of grain produced in U.S. were exported to Europe during World War I. Land was cultivated using tractors and disk ploughs. Harvesting was done by using Mechanical Reaper. However, poor farmers who had taken loans to buy them, got trapped in debts. After the War, the export market collapsed. Dust storms of 1930s killed cattle and damaged machines irreparably.

In colonial India, British expanded cultivable land to increase its revenue. Commercial crops were also cultivated to meets demands of global market. During late 18th century, the English bought Chinese tea, for consumption in England, through bullion. To stop this loss, British traded opium cultivated in India for Chinese tea. After initial reluctance, peasants cultivated opium for advances provided by government. They were compelled to produce only opium for which they received low profits. By 1820s, opium trade was higher in princely states, so government destroyed opium cultivation in these lands.

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