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Labor continues to hold the spotlight. Agricultural labor is essential to
the food production that is essential to war and peace. So here is
CONTRIBUTORS: Paul S. TAYLOR is Professor of Agricultural Economics
in the University of California and a member of the California State
ARTHUR P. Chew is a special writer of long standing in the United States
Department of Agriculture.
CHARLES S. JOHNSON, director of the Department of Social Sciences, Fisk
University, at Nashville, and author of several books, was a member
LESTER A. KIRKENDALL, is head of the Division of Educational Guidance,
University of Oklahoma. Among the offices he has held are Vice-
J. C. DYKES, after several active years in the regional office at Fort Worth is
now Assistant Chief of the Soil Conservation Service.
A.P.C. is a writer in the Office of Information of the U. S. D. A.;
Ronald G. MIGHELL is principal agricultural economist in farm-man-
THE INDEX to Volume V of Land Policy REVIEW will be mailed
upon request made to the Bureau of Agricultural Economics.
treetry LAND POLICY - REVIEW
Land Policy Review is published quarterly by the Bureau of Agricultural Economics, U. S. Department of Agriculture, with approval of the Bureau of the Budget. For sale by the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D. C., 10 cents a single copy, 30 cents a year
The American Hired Man:
HIS Rise AND Decline
By PAUL S. TAYLOR. Herewith the history of the farm hand in this country, which occasions a pertinent question: "Should we not seek to recreate in agricultural work a calling with dignity?”
WAR turns floodlights on our agricultural labor market. It always does.
In early American days, the timetable of the militia was shaped to fit the harvests. There were no two ways about it, for the militia-men were the farm boys without whom the crops could not be gathered nor the armies fed. In the 1860's machinery, both on the farm and in the factory, began to take the place of men gone to the wars. A new element had been introduced. Some called it the solution, yet the problem of the agricultural labor market reappears to press upon us again today.
Forms of agricultural labor by which our crops are produced are varied. They include migrant and sharecropper; but none colors our thinking more than the steady figure of the hired man, working month in and month out beside the farmer.
Now comes the 1940 census to tell us that today less than two-fifths of all farm wages are paid by the month. It seems time, therefore, to re-examine this man brought down to us through the generations, whom we had thought was still our main reliance.
Out of the scarcity of labor and the plenty of land a unique type of farm worker was generated in the British North American colonies. For centuries free laborers had been employed in agriculture for wages, but free wage laborers on an approximate social equality with farmers, and themselves on the way to becoming independent farmers—these represented something new. Their status was different, and was so recognized by Americans. It forced its way into the language.
In 1820 the Scottish traveller, James Flint, took this note of it: "These I must call Americanisms,"