NCERT Class 9 History Chapter 6: Peasant and Farmers YouTube Lecture Handouts

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Agriculture in England

  • In 1830 and 2 years ahead – riots spread in southern England and 387 threshing machines were broken

  • Before this large part of countryside was open and not partitioned into enclosed lands privately owned by landlords

  • At the beginning of each year – each villager was allocated strips to cultivate (varied quality and located in different places)

  • All villagers had access to the commons. Here they pastured their cows and grazed their sheep, collected fuelwood for fire and berries and fruit for food.

  • For poor, common land was for survival

  • 16th century – price of wool went up & rich farmers expanded wool production to earn profits – wanted to improve breeds and control large areas to allow improved breeding – started separating there property by enclosing common land around their holdings

  • Early enclosures were created by individual landlords & not supported by state or church

  • b/w 1750 and 1860 – 6 million acres of land was enclosed & British govt. passed 4,000 acts legalizing these enclosures

  • 16th century enclosure for sheep farming and 18th century for grain production

  • Population increased from 7 million in 1750 to 30 million in 1900 – increased demand for food grain and price rise, industrialization was taking place

  • France in war with England and foodgrain supplies disrupted, prices skyrocketed and encouraged landowners to enclose lands and enlarge areas under grain cultivation – profits flowed in and enclosure acts were passed

Age of Enclosures

  • Earlier – rapid population growth was followed by period of food shortages

  • In 19th century – grain production was growing as quickly as population

  • In 1868 – 80% food it consumed was produced and rest was imported

  • Increase in foodgrain production was possible not by innovation in agricultural technology but by bringing new land under cultivation

  • Landlords sliced up pasturelands, carved up open fields, cut up forest commons, took over marshes, and turned larger and larger areas into agricultural fields

  • 1660s – farmers grew turnip (fodder crop) and cloves (improved soil and fertility) – increased nitrogen content in soil

  • Enclosures – long term investments on land and plan crop rotations to improve soil, allow rich landowners to expand land and produce more for market

What Happened to Poor?

  • With fences, enclosed land became property of one landowner

  • Poor couldn’t collect firewood from forest or graze cattle on commons, couldn’t collect food or hunt animals or gather the stalks

  • Poor were displaced and their customary rights were disappearing – moved from Midlands to southern counties of England (intensively cultivated but had demand for labourers)

  • After 1800, labourers were paid wages and employed only during harvest time (unsecure work, uncertain employment and unstable income)

Threshing Machines Introduced

  • During Napoleonic Wars, prices of foodgrains were high and farmers expanded production – fear of shortage of labourers and bought new threshing machines

  • Machines would reduce dependence on labourers

  • After Napoleonic Wars – soldiers returned to villages for alternate jobs. Now grain came from Europe, prices declined and agricultural depression set in

  • They demanded import of crops to be stopped and cut wages

  • The richer farmers expanded grain production, sold this grain in the world market, made profits, and became powerful. The poor left their villages in large numbers.

Bread Basket and Dust Bowl

  • End of 18th century – forest covered 800 million acres and grasslands covered 600 million acres

  • Till 1780s – white Americans were confined to narrow coastal strip in east

Map of Forest Vegetation, Tall Grass, Short Grass, Desert Vegetation

Forest Vegetation, Tall Grass, Short Grass, Desert Vegetation

Map of Forest Vegetation, Tall Grass, Short Grass, Desert Vegetation

By 1920’s landscape transformed and white Americans moved westward, displaced local tribes and carved landscape into different agricultural belt

Map of 1920’s landscape transformed and white Americans moved westward

1920’S Landscape Transformed- White Americans Westward

Map of 1920’s landscape transformed and white Americans moved westward

  • After American War of Independence from 1775 to 1783 and formation of USA – white Americans began to move westward

  • American Indians had to be cleared from land – Indians were massacred and many of their villages were burnt – Indians resisted but were forced to sign treaties

  • As Indians retreated settlers poured in successive waves – 1st decade of 18th century to Appalachians; into Mississippi valley b/w 1820 to 1850 – burnt forest, cleared land for cultivation, built log cabins, cleared larger area, erected fences, ploughed land and sowed corn and wheat

Image of Westward expansion of white settlement between 1775 and 1920

Westward Expansion of White Settlement 1775 and 1920

Image of Westward expansion of white settlement between 1775 and 1920

  • When fertility was exhausted, they moved further west to explore new lands – later Great Plains became major wheat producing area

  • Late 19th century – urban population was growing and so was export market – as demand increased, wheat price rose and encouraged farmers to produce wheat – railway expansion helped it

  • During WW-I – world market boomed as Russian supplies were cut off & USA had to feed Europe

  • US President Wilson called upon farmers to respond to the need of the time: ‘Plant more wheat, wheat will win the war,’

  • In 1910, about 45 million acres of land in the USA was under wheat. 9 years later, the area had expanded to 74 million acres, an increase of about 65%.

  • Big farmers, wheat barons controlled as much as 2,000 to 3,000 acres of land individually

  • Settlers moved to new habitats and new lands they modified the implements – from simple plough to new ploughs – walking plough with small wheel (12 ft long)

  • Scythe was used for mowing grass before mid 19th century

  • Before 1830 – harvest by cradle or sickle

  • In1831, Cyrus McCormick invented the first mechanical reaper which could cut in one day as much as five men could cut with cradles and 16 men with sickles

  • By early 20th century – most farmers were using combined harvesters (500 acres of land could be harvested in 2 weeks)

  • The new machines allowed these big farmers to rapidly clear large tracts, break up the soil, remove the grass and prepare the ground for cultivation - work could be done quickly with a minimal number of hands.

  • With power-driven machinery, four men could plough, seed and harvest 2,000 to 4,000 acres of wheat in a season.

  • For poor – machines brought misery (those who had no money, banks offered loans but people were unable to repay) – mechanization reduced need for labor

  • With expanding production there was surplus – store houses were overflowed and prices of wheat fell & exports collapsed – created Great Agrarian Depression of 1930s

  • 1930s witnessed dust storms over southern plains with black blizzards – dust swept in, cattle suffocated, numerous deaths – persistent years of drought with failed rains and high temperature – whole region became a dust bowl and American dream turned to be a nightmare

  • After 1930s, they realized that they had to respect the ecological conditions of each region

India and Opium

  • British rule was establishing after Battle of Plassey (1757)

  • Rural landscape was transformed and land revenue was major source of income

  • Early 19th century – indigo and opium were two major commercial crops

  • Sugarcane, cotton, jute & wheat were produced to feed urban Europe and to supply to mills in Lancashire and Manchester in England

  • Late 18th century – East India Company was buying tea and silk from China for England (in 1785 – 15 million pound tea was imported and by 1830 it rose to 30 million pounds)

  • Profit of East India Company came to depend on tea trade

  • Manchus, Confucian ruler of China were suspicious of foreign merchants and were unwilling to allow entry of foreign goods – Britishers were looking to sell commodity in China and stop loss of silver coins or bullions

  • Portuguese introduced opium in China in 16th century for medicinal purposes only (as emperor was aware of dangers of opium) but Western merchants started illegal trade of opium in China in mid-18th century (started smuggling about 10,000 crates every year starting 1820s which after 15 years were 35,000 crates) – Chinese got addicted to opium

  • In 1839 – there were 4 million opium smokers in China

  • Returns from opium sale financed the tea purchases in China.

  • Triangular trade – opium form India to China and tea from China to England

  • Opium came from Bengal – In 1767 around 500 chests were exported which increased to 1500 in next 4 years and after 1870 it rose to 50,000 every year

Situation of growing poppy in India?

  • Must be grown over best land, near villages and well manured

  • Planting opium removed the cultivation area for pulses

  • Cultivators owned no land – they had to rent land and the rents were very high

  • Cultivation of opium was difficult process – delicate plant and long hours for nurturing

  • Price to be paid was very low and it became unprofitable

  • Cultivators were convinced by system of advances

  • Peasants were hand to mouth and had nothing to survive on

  • In 1780s peasants found headman (mahato) give advances for opium production

  • Advances tempted the peasants to cultivate and pay loans later

  • If loan was taken, cultivators were forced to grow opium on specified land and there was no option of planting the field with crop of his choice & had to accept the low price

  • This could be resolved by increasing the price but Britishers were reluctant for that

  • Price was so low that peasants agitated and refused to take advances – they started producing sugarcane and potatoes & sold to travelling traders who offered higher prices

  • By 1773 – British in Bengal had monopoly to trade in opium but in 1820s found that opium production was declining but increasing in areas outside British control of Central India and Rajasthan

  • Local traders were offering higher price for opium and trading to China but for Britishers this was illegal & they wanted to retain British Monopoly