Slide Show: View the Agricultural Inventions from 1862" data-pin-do="buttonBookmark">
Slide Show: View the Agricultural Inventions from 1862 Image: Scientific American, January 4, 1862
From our comfortable viewpoint in 2012, the United States of 1862 sounds wretchedly backward: Most of the population lived and labored in rural areas. Water and sewer services were almost nonexistent. Small children worked in coal mines. Life expectancy was a miserable 44 years (34 years for slaves). Civil War dominated the news.
Yet three-quarters of the population could read (for instance, such fine publications as Scientific American). Service and manufacturing businesses were growing rapidly. Thousands of miles of railways and telegraph wires crisscrossed the country, moving people, goods, news and ideas. The ideals of learning and progress were enshrined in the U.S. Constitution: “to promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts.”
Inventions were a cornerstone of Progress. Any device that could save labor or improve some process or product could bring fortune and even fame to the successful inventor. Agriculture had its share of hopeful farmer/inventors, as the following slide show of agricultural improvements from 1862 attests.