The historian Frederick J. Turner wrote in the 1890’s that the agrarian discontent that had been developing steadily in the United States since about 1870 had been precipitated by the closing of the internal frontier—that is, the depletion of available new land needed for further expansion of the American farming system. Not only was Turner’s thesis influential at the time, it was later adopted and elaborated by other scholars, such as John D. Hicks in The Populist Revolt (1931). Actually, however, new lands were taken up for farming in the United States throughout and beyond the nineteenth century. In the 1890’s, when agrarian discontent had become most acute, 1,100,000 new farms were settled, which was 500,000 more than had been settled during the previous decade. After 1890, under the terms of the Homestead Act and its successors, more new land was taken up for farming than had been taken up for this purpose in the United States up until that time. It is true that a high proportion of the newly farmed land was suitable only for grazing and dry farming, but agricultural practices had become sufficiently advanced to make it possible to increase the profitability of farming by utilizing even these relatively barren lands.
The emphasis given by both scholars and statesmen to the presumed disappearance of the American frontier helped to obscure the great importance of changes in the conditions and consequences of international trade that occurred during the second half of the nineteenth century. In 1869 the Suez Canal was opened and the first transcontinental railroad in the United States was completed. An extensive network of telegraph and telephone communications was spun: Europe was connected by submarine cable with the United States in 1866 and with South America in 1874. By about 1870 improvements in agricultural technology made possible the full exploitation of areas that were most suitable for extensive farming on a mechanized basis. Huge tracts of land were being settled and farmed in Argentina, Australia, Canada, and in the American West, and these areas were joined with one another and with the countries of Europe into an interdependent market system. As a consequence, agrarian depressions no longer were local or national in scope, and they struck several nations whose internal frontiers had not vanished or were not about to vanish. Between the early 1870’s and the 1890’s, the mounting agrarian discontent in America paralleled the almost uninterrupted decline in the prices of American agricultural products on foreign markets. Those staple-growing farmers in the United States who exhibited the greatest discontent were those who had become most dependent on foreign markets for the sale of their products. Insofar as Americans had been deterred from taking up new land for farming, it was because market conditions had made this period a perilous time in which to do so.
20. The author is primarily concerned with
(A) showing that a certain interpretation is better supported by the evidence than is an alternative explanation
(B) developing an alternative interpretation by using sources of evidence that formerly had been unavailable
(C) questioning the accuracy of the evidence that most scholars have used to counter the author’s own interpretation
(D) reviewing the evidence that formerly had been thought to obscure a valid interpretation
(E) presenting evidence in support of a controversial version of an earlier interpretation
21. According to the author, changes in the conditions of international trade resulted in an
(A) underestimation of the amount of new land that was being famed in the United States
(B) underutilization of relatively small but rich plots of land
(C) overexpansion of the world transportation network for shipping agricultural products
(D) extension of agrarian depressions beyond national boundaries
(E) emphasis on the importance of market forces in determining the prices of agricultural products
22. The author implies that the change in the state of the American farmer’s morale during the latter part of the
nineteenth century was traceable to the American farmer’s increasing perception that the
(A) costs of cultivating the land were prohibitive within the United States
(B) development of the first transcontinental railroad in the United States occurred at the expense of the American farmer
(C) American farming system was about to run out of the new farmland that was required for its expansion
(D) prices of American agricultural products were deteriorating especially rapidly on domestic markets
(E) proceeds from the sales of American agricultural products on foreign markets were unsatisfactory
23. According to the passage, which of the following occurred prior to 1890?
(A) Frederick J. Turner’s thesis regarding the American frontier became influential.
(B) The Homestead Act led to an increase in the amount of newly farmed land in the United States.
(C) The manufacturers of technologically advanced agricultural machinery rapidly increased their marketing efforts.
(D) Direct lines of communication were constructed between the United States and South America.
(E) Technological advances made it fruitful to farm extensively on a mechanized basis.
24. The author implies that, after certain territories and countries had been joined into an interdependent market system in the nineteenth century, agrarian depressions within that system
(A) spread to several nations, excluding those in which the internal frontier remained open
(B) manifested themselves in several nations, including those in which new land remained available for farming
(C) slowed down the pace of new technological developments in international communications and transportation
(D) affected the local and national prices of the nonagricultural products of several nations
(E) encouraged several nations to sell more of their agricultural products on foreign markets
25. The author provides information concerning newly farmed lands in the United States (lines 11-27)
as evidence in direct support of which of the following?
(A) A proposal by Frederick J. Turner that was later disputed by John D. Hicks
(B) An elaboration by John D. Hicks of a thesis that formerly had been questioned by Frederick J. Turner
(C) The established view that was disputed by those scholars who adopted the thesis of Frederick J. Turner
(D) The thesis that important changes occurred in the nature of international trade during the second half of the nineteenth century
(E) The view that the American frontier did not become closed during the nineteenth century or soon thereafter
26. The author implies that the cause of the agrarian discontent was
(A) masked by the vagueness of the official records on newly settled farms
(B) overshadowed by disputes on the reliability of the existing historical evidence
(C) misidentified as a result of influential but erroneous theorizing
(D) overlooked because of a preoccupation with market conditions
(E) undetected because visible indications of the cause occurred so gradually and sporadically
27. The author’s argument implies that, compared to the yearly price changes that actually occurred on foreign agricultural markets during the 1880’s, American farmers would have most preferred yearly price changes that were
(A) much smaller and in the same direction
(B) much smaller but in the opposite direction
(C) slightly smaller and in the same direction
(D) similar in size but in the opposite direction
(E) slightly greater and in the same direction