Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 33.djvu/28

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18
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

progress of abandonment. In the United States, the decline in the value of land has, in many instances, been also very notable. In the New England States at the present time, agricultural land, not remote from large centers of population, can often be bought for a smaller price than fifty years ago would have been regarded as a fair appraisal, and even less than the cost of the buildings and walls at present upon it. Since the last decennial appraisal of real estate in Ohio (in 1880) "there has been a heavy decline. Farm property is from 25 to 50 per cent cheaper to-day than it then was."[1] "In the ten cotton States, the value of agricultural land was in 1860 $1,478,000,000; in 1880, $1,019,000,000, a decrease of $459,000,000. It would require an addition of 45 per cent of its value in 1880 to raise it to its value in 1860." Meanwhile, the population of these same States has increased 53 per cent. "In 1860, the value per acre of improved land in Georgia was $6; in 1886, below $3.50; decrease, $2.50. Were the agricultural land divided out among the people, the value per head would have been: in 1860, $150; in 1886, $63; decrease, $87."[2]

In the foregoing series of papers an attempt has been made to trace out and exhibit in something like regular order the causes and the extent of the industrial and social changes and accompanying disturbances which have especially characterized the last fifteen or twenty-five years of the world's history. The idea adopted at the outset, and an adherence to which has subsequently been kept constantly in view, has been to relate simply but comprehensively what has happened, and thus prepare the way for a solution of the many problems of interest and importance which are the outcome of the situation, rather than attempt the more difficult and to some extent (at present) impossible task of directly formulating and offering satisfactory answers or explanations. At the same time the presentation of whatever in the way of deduction from the record of experience has seemed legitimate and likely to aid in the determination of correct conclusions has not been disregarded, and with a view of further contributing to such results the following additional considerations are finally submitted:

It seems clear that the first and most essential thing for all those who are desirous of determining the extent of the evils which the recent economic disturbances have occasioned, and what course of procedure on the part of society and individuals is likely to prove most remedial of them, is to endeavor to un-

  1. "Inaugural Address of Governor Foraker," January, 1837.
  2. Report of a committee of citizens of the ten cotton-growing States ("Sam" Barnett, of Georgia, ciiairman), "On the Causes of the Depressed Condition of Agriculture, and the Remedies," 1887.