What was the balance between agriculture and manufacturing in the United States during 1786?I am laying out a American history DBQ i am doing and one piece of evidence is confusing me. It is a...

What was the balance between agriculture and manufacturing in the United States during 1786?

I am laying out a American history DBQ i am doing and one piece of evidence is confusing me. It is a picture of a round medal and it is titled "Medal of the Philadelphia Society for the Promotion of Agriculture" and is dated 1786. The medal depicts a farmer plowing a field of wheat using two bulls. There is a women next to him holding wheat and above her is a circle of stars (I counted 13). In the background is a farm, the sun, and the phrase "VENERATE THE PLOUGH." The medal is obviously trying to promote farming but why? Was there not enough agriculture in the US? Why is a northern state is charge of the society and not a southern state? So i attempted to combine those questions into the question i asked above.

Asked on by jc211

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pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

You are right to assume that the US was very agrarian during the time you mention.  According to one text I teach out of, 80% of American households were "involved in agricultural production."  (Amusingly enough, that stat is on a page that shows the exact medal you are talking about...)

As for your other questions:

The Northern states had a lot of farming.  A society like that would have never been based in the South because it is promoting small farms worked by their owners (that's why you don't have a bunch of slaves on the medal).  Southerners would never "venerate the plow" -- to them it would have been something that slaves used.

So it's not that there isn't enough agriculture.  What's going on is that they are asserting that farming is morally superior to other forms of labor.  This would likely be because a farmer would be "his own man" and not just have to work for someone.

I hope that helps... you didn't mention what the actual DBQ question was, so I can't tell you more about how this "document" would fit in.

sciencehour's profile pic

sciencehour | College Teacher | (Level 2) eNoter

Posted on

This very rare , maybe one of a kind gold medal is actually a prize awarded to George Morgan for his literary essay "Essay on a farm yard" by the Philadelphia Society for Promoting Agriculture. In terms of the situation, America was confrounting with a very difficult period for agriculture. In the summer of 1786 America suffered after the war, of farm foreclosures, bankruptcies, economic depression. There was a debate,of huge importance, between the supporters of the New Constitution, called Federalists, and their opponents. Opponents were in general agrarian localists while supporters were commercial cosmopolitans.

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