NCERT Textbook - Peasants and Farmers Class 9 Notes | EduRev

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Class 9 : NCERT Textbook - Peasants and Farmers Class 9 Notes | EduRev

 Page 1


Peasants and Farmers
117
P P P P Peasants and Farmers easants and Farmers easants and Farmers easants and Farmers easants and Farmers
P e a s a n t s   a n d   F a r m e r s
In the previous two chapters you read about pastures and forests,
and about those who depended on these resources.  You learnt about
shifting cultivators, pastoral groups and tribals. You saw how access
to forests and pastures was regulated by modern governments, and
how these restrictions and controls affected the lives of those who
used these resources.
In this chapter you will read about peasants and farmers, with a
special focus on three different countries. You will find out about
the small cottagers in England, the wheat farmers of the USA, and
the opium producers of Bengal. You will see what happens to different
rural groups with the coming of modern agriculture; what happens
when different regions of the world are integrated with the capitalist
world market. By comparing the histories of different places you
will see how these histories are different, even though some of the
processes are similar.
Let us begin our journey with England where the agricultural
revolution first occurred.
Chapter VI
Page 2


Peasants and Farmers
117
P P P P Peasants and Farmers easants and Farmers easants and Farmers easants and Farmers easants and Farmers
P e a s a n t s   a n d   F a r m e r s
In the previous two chapters you read about pastures and forests,
and about those who depended on these resources.  You learnt about
shifting cultivators, pastoral groups and tribals. You saw how access
to forests and pastures was regulated by modern governments, and
how these restrictions and controls affected the lives of those who
used these resources.
In this chapter you will read about peasants and farmers, with a
special focus on three different countries. You will find out about
the small cottagers in England, the wheat farmers of the USA, and
the opium producers of Bengal. You will see what happens to different
rural groups with the coming of modern agriculture; what happens
when different regions of the world are integrated with the capitalist
world market. By comparing the histories of different places you
will see how these histories are different, even though some of the
processes are similar.
Let us begin our journey with England where the agricultural
revolution first occurred.
Chapter VI
India and the Contemporary World
118
Source A
On 1 June 1830, a farmer in the north-west of England found his
barn and haystack reduced to ashes by a fire that started at night.  In
the months that followed, cases of such fire were reported from
numerous districts. At times only the rick was burnt, at other times
the entire farmhouse. Then on the night of 28 August 1830, a threshing
machine of a farmer was destroyed by labourers in East Kent in
England. In the subsequent two years, riots spread over southern
England and about 387 threshing machines were broken. Through
this period, farmers received threatening letters urging them to stop
using machines that deprived workmen of their livelihood. Most of
these letters were signed in the name of Captain Swing. Alarmed
landlords feared attacks by armed bands at night, and many destroyed
their own machines. Government action was severe. Those suspected
of rioting were rounded up. 1, 976 prisoners were tried, nine men
were hanged, 505 transported ? over 450 of them to Australia ? and
644 put behind bars.
Captain Swing was a mythic name used in these letters. But who
were the Swing rioters? Why did they break threshing machines?
What were they protesting against? To answer these questions, we
need to trace the developments in English agriculture in the eighteenth
and nineteenth centuries.
1.1 The Time of Open fields and Commons
Over the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries the English
countryside changed dramatically. Before this time in large parts of
England the countryside was open. It was not partitioned into
enclosed lands privately owned by landlords. Peasants cultivated on
strips of land around the village they lived in. At the beginning of
each year, at a public meeting, each villager was allocated a number
of strips to cultivate. Usually, these strips were of varying quality
and often located in different places, not next to each other. The
effort was to ensure that everyone had a mix of good and bad land.
Beyond these strips of cultivation lay the common land. 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.
They fished in the rivers and ponds, and hunted rabbit in common
forests. For the poor, the common land was essential for survival. It
1   The Coming of Modern Agriculture in England
The threatening letters circulated widely.
At times the threats were gentle, at
others severe. Some of them were as
brief as the following.
Sir
This is to acquaint you that if your
threshing  machines are not destroyed
by you directly we shall commence our
labours.
Signed on behalf of the whole
Swing
From E.J. Hobsbawm and George Rude,
Captain Swing.
Page 3


Peasants and Farmers
117
P P P P Peasants and Farmers easants and Farmers easants and Farmers easants and Farmers easants and Farmers
P e a s a n t s   a n d   F a r m e r s
In the previous two chapters you read about pastures and forests,
and about those who depended on these resources.  You learnt about
shifting cultivators, pastoral groups and tribals. You saw how access
to forests and pastures was regulated by modern governments, and
how these restrictions and controls affected the lives of those who
used these resources.
In this chapter you will read about peasants and farmers, with a
special focus on three different countries. You will find out about
the small cottagers in England, the wheat farmers of the USA, and
the opium producers of Bengal. You will see what happens to different
rural groups with the coming of modern agriculture; what happens
when different regions of the world are integrated with the capitalist
world market. By comparing the histories of different places you
will see how these histories are different, even though some of the
processes are similar.
Let us begin our journey with England where the agricultural
revolution first occurred.
Chapter VI
India and the Contemporary World
118
Source A
On 1 June 1830, a farmer in the north-west of England found his
barn and haystack reduced to ashes by a fire that started at night.  In
the months that followed, cases of such fire were reported from
numerous districts. At times only the rick was burnt, at other times
the entire farmhouse. Then on the night of 28 August 1830, a threshing
machine of a farmer was destroyed by labourers in East Kent in
England. In the subsequent two years, riots spread over southern
England and about 387 threshing machines were broken. Through
this period, farmers received threatening letters urging them to stop
using machines that deprived workmen of their livelihood. Most of
these letters were signed in the name of Captain Swing. Alarmed
landlords feared attacks by armed bands at night, and many destroyed
their own machines. Government action was severe. Those suspected
of rioting were rounded up. 1, 976 prisoners were tried, nine men
were hanged, 505 transported ? over 450 of them to Australia ? and
644 put behind bars.
Captain Swing was a mythic name used in these letters. But who
were the Swing rioters? Why did they break threshing machines?
What were they protesting against? To answer these questions, we
need to trace the developments in English agriculture in the eighteenth
and nineteenth centuries.
1.1 The Time of Open fields and Commons
Over the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries the English
countryside changed dramatically. Before this time in large parts of
England the countryside was open. It was not partitioned into
enclosed lands privately owned by landlords. Peasants cultivated on
strips of land around the village they lived in. At the beginning of
each year, at a public meeting, each villager was allocated a number
of strips to cultivate. Usually, these strips were of varying quality
and often located in different places, not next to each other. The
effort was to ensure that everyone had a mix of good and bad land.
Beyond these strips of cultivation lay the common land. 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.
They fished in the rivers and ponds, and hunted rabbit in common
forests. For the poor, the common land was essential for survival. It
1   The Coming of Modern Agriculture in England
The threatening letters circulated widely.
At times the threats were gentle, at
others severe. Some of them were as
brief as the following.
Sir
This is to acquaint you that if your
threshing  machines are not destroyed
by you directly we shall commence our
labours.
Signed on behalf of the whole
Swing
From E.J. Hobsbawm and George Rude,
Captain Swing.
Peasants and Farmers
119
Source B
This Swing letter is an example of a
sterner threat:
Sir ,
Your name is down amongst the Black
hearts in the Black Book and this is to
advise you and the like of you, who are
?? to make your wills.
Ye have been the Blackguard Enemies
of the people on all occasions, ye have
not yet done as ye ought.
Swing
supplemented their meagre income, sustained their cattle, and helped
them tide over bad times when crops failed.
In some parts of England, this economy of open fields and common
lands had started changing from about the sixteenth century. When
the price of wool went up in the world market in the sixteenth
century, rich farmers wanted to expand wool production to earn
profits. They were eager to improve their sheep breeds and ensure
good feed for them. They were keen on controlling large areas of
land in compact blocks to allow improved breeding. So they began
dividing and enclosing common land and building hedges around
their holdings to separate their property from that of others. They
drove out villagers who had small cottages on the commons, and
they prevented the poor from entering the enclosed fields.
Till the middle of the eighteenth century the enclosure movement
proceeded very slowly. The early enclosures were usually created by
individual landlords. They were not supported by the state or the
church. After the mid-eighteenth century, however, the enclosure
movement swept through the countryside, changing the English
landscape for ever. Between 1750 and 1850, 6 million acres of land
was enclosed. The British Parliament no longer watched this process
from a distance. It passed 4,000 Acts legalising these enclosures.
Fig.1 ? Threshing machines broken in different counties of England
during the Captain Swing movement.(1830-32)
Based on E. J. Hobsbawm and George Rude, Captain Swing.
Number of machines broken
Swing movement areas
Page 4


Peasants and Farmers
117
P P P P Peasants and Farmers easants and Farmers easants and Farmers easants and Farmers easants and Farmers
P e a s a n t s   a n d   F a r m e r s
In the previous two chapters you read about pastures and forests,
and about those who depended on these resources.  You learnt about
shifting cultivators, pastoral groups and tribals. You saw how access
to forests and pastures was regulated by modern governments, and
how these restrictions and controls affected the lives of those who
used these resources.
In this chapter you will read about peasants and farmers, with a
special focus on three different countries. You will find out about
the small cottagers in England, the wheat farmers of the USA, and
the opium producers of Bengal. You will see what happens to different
rural groups with the coming of modern agriculture; what happens
when different regions of the world are integrated with the capitalist
world market. By comparing the histories of different places you
will see how these histories are different, even though some of the
processes are similar.
Let us begin our journey with England where the agricultural
revolution first occurred.
Chapter VI
India and the Contemporary World
118
Source A
On 1 June 1830, a farmer in the north-west of England found his
barn and haystack reduced to ashes by a fire that started at night.  In
the months that followed, cases of such fire were reported from
numerous districts. At times only the rick was burnt, at other times
the entire farmhouse. Then on the night of 28 August 1830, a threshing
machine of a farmer was destroyed by labourers in East Kent in
England. In the subsequent two years, riots spread over southern
England and about 387 threshing machines were broken. Through
this period, farmers received threatening letters urging them to stop
using machines that deprived workmen of their livelihood. Most of
these letters were signed in the name of Captain Swing. Alarmed
landlords feared attacks by armed bands at night, and many destroyed
their own machines. Government action was severe. Those suspected
of rioting were rounded up. 1, 976 prisoners were tried, nine men
were hanged, 505 transported ? over 450 of them to Australia ? and
644 put behind bars.
Captain Swing was a mythic name used in these letters. But who
were the Swing rioters? Why did they break threshing machines?
What were they protesting against? To answer these questions, we
need to trace the developments in English agriculture in the eighteenth
and nineteenth centuries.
1.1 The Time of Open fields and Commons
Over the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries the English
countryside changed dramatically. Before this time in large parts of
England the countryside was open. It was not partitioned into
enclosed lands privately owned by landlords. Peasants cultivated on
strips of land around the village they lived in. At the beginning of
each year, at a public meeting, each villager was allocated a number
of strips to cultivate. Usually, these strips were of varying quality
and often located in different places, not next to each other. The
effort was to ensure that everyone had a mix of good and bad land.
Beyond these strips of cultivation lay the common land. 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.
They fished in the rivers and ponds, and hunted rabbit in common
forests. For the poor, the common land was essential for survival. It
1   The Coming of Modern Agriculture in England
The threatening letters circulated widely.
At times the threats were gentle, at
others severe. Some of them were as
brief as the following.
Sir
This is to acquaint you that if your
threshing  machines are not destroyed
by you directly we shall commence our
labours.
Signed on behalf of the whole
Swing
From E.J. Hobsbawm and George Rude,
Captain Swing.
Peasants and Farmers
119
Source B
This Swing letter is an example of a
sterner threat:
Sir ,
Your name is down amongst the Black
hearts in the Black Book and this is to
advise you and the like of you, who are
?? to make your wills.
Ye have been the Blackguard Enemies
of the people on all occasions, ye have
not yet done as ye ought.
Swing
supplemented their meagre income, sustained their cattle, and helped
them tide over bad times when crops failed.
In some parts of England, this economy of open fields and common
lands had started changing from about the sixteenth century. When
the price of wool went up in the world market in the sixteenth
century, rich farmers wanted to expand wool production to earn
profits. They were eager to improve their sheep breeds and ensure
good feed for them. They were keen on controlling large areas of
land in compact blocks to allow improved breeding. So they began
dividing and enclosing common land and building hedges around
their holdings to separate their property from that of others. They
drove out villagers who had small cottages on the commons, and
they prevented the poor from entering the enclosed fields.
Till the middle of the eighteenth century the enclosure movement
proceeded very slowly. The early enclosures were usually created by
individual landlords. They were not supported by the state or the
church. After the mid-eighteenth century, however, the enclosure
movement swept through the countryside, changing the English
landscape for ever. Between 1750 and 1850, 6 million acres of land
was enclosed. The British Parliament no longer watched this process
from a distance. It passed 4,000 Acts legalising these enclosures.
Fig.1 ? Threshing machines broken in different counties of England
during the Captain Swing movement.(1830-32)
Based on E. J. Hobsbawm and George Rude, Captain Swing.
Number of machines broken
Swing movement areas
India and the Contemporary World
120
1.2 New Demands for Grain
Why was there such a frantic effort to enclose lands?  What did the
enclosures imply? The new enclosures were different from the old.
Unlike the sixteenth-century enclosures that promoted sheep farming,
the land being enclosed in the late eighteenth century was for grain
production. The new enclosures were happening in a different context;
they became a sign of a changing time. From the mid-eighteenth
century, the English population expanded rapidly. Between 1750 and
1900, it multiplied over four times, mounting from 7 million in 1750
to 21 million in 1850 and 30 million in 1900. This meant an increased
demand for foodgrains to feed the population. Moreover, Britain at
this time was industrialising. More and more people began to live
and work in urban areas. Men from rural areas migrated to towns in
search of jobs. To survive they had to buy foodgrains in the market.
As the urban population grew, the market for foodgrains expanded,
and when demand increased rapidly, foodgrain prices rose.
By the end of the eighteenth century, France was at war with England.
This disrupted trade and the import of foodgrains from Europe.
Prices of foodgrains in England sky rocketed, encouraging landowners
to enclose lands and enlarge the area under grain cultivation. Profits
flowed in and landowners pressurised the Parliament to pass the
Enclosure Acts.
Activity
Look at the graph carefully. See how the price
line moves up sharply in the 1790s and slumps
dramatically after 1815. Can you explain why the
line of the graph shows this pattern?
New words
Bushel ? A measure of capacity.
Shillings ? An English currency. 20 shillings = £1
Fig.2 ? Annual average wheat prices in England and Wales: 1771-1850.
0
20
40
60
80
100
120
1 771 -75
1776 -80
1781 - 85
1786 -90
1 7 9 1 -95
1796-18 0 0
1801 - 0 5
1 805 -10
1811 -15
1 816 -20
1821 -25
1826 - 30
1831 -35
183 6 -40
1841 - 45
1846 -50
YEARS
SHILLINGS PER BUSHEL
average price
Page 5


Peasants and Farmers
117
P P P P Peasants and Farmers easants and Farmers easants and Farmers easants and Farmers easants and Farmers
P e a s a n t s   a n d   F a r m e r s
In the previous two chapters you read about pastures and forests,
and about those who depended on these resources.  You learnt about
shifting cultivators, pastoral groups and tribals. You saw how access
to forests and pastures was regulated by modern governments, and
how these restrictions and controls affected the lives of those who
used these resources.
In this chapter you will read about peasants and farmers, with a
special focus on three different countries. You will find out about
the small cottagers in England, the wheat farmers of the USA, and
the opium producers of Bengal. You will see what happens to different
rural groups with the coming of modern agriculture; what happens
when different regions of the world are integrated with the capitalist
world market. By comparing the histories of different places you
will see how these histories are different, even though some of the
processes are similar.
Let us begin our journey with England where the agricultural
revolution first occurred.
Chapter VI
India and the Contemporary World
118
Source A
On 1 June 1830, a farmer in the north-west of England found his
barn and haystack reduced to ashes by a fire that started at night.  In
the months that followed, cases of such fire were reported from
numerous districts. At times only the rick was burnt, at other times
the entire farmhouse. Then on the night of 28 August 1830, a threshing
machine of a farmer was destroyed by labourers in East Kent in
England. In the subsequent two years, riots spread over southern
England and about 387 threshing machines were broken. Through
this period, farmers received threatening letters urging them to stop
using machines that deprived workmen of their livelihood. Most of
these letters were signed in the name of Captain Swing. Alarmed
landlords feared attacks by armed bands at night, and many destroyed
their own machines. Government action was severe. Those suspected
of rioting were rounded up. 1, 976 prisoners were tried, nine men
were hanged, 505 transported ? over 450 of them to Australia ? and
644 put behind bars.
Captain Swing was a mythic name used in these letters. But who
were the Swing rioters? Why did they break threshing machines?
What were they protesting against? To answer these questions, we
need to trace the developments in English agriculture in the eighteenth
and nineteenth centuries.
1.1 The Time of Open fields and Commons
Over the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries the English
countryside changed dramatically. Before this time in large parts of
England the countryside was open. It was not partitioned into
enclosed lands privately owned by landlords. Peasants cultivated on
strips of land around the village they lived in. At the beginning of
each year, at a public meeting, each villager was allocated a number
of strips to cultivate. Usually, these strips were of varying quality
and often located in different places, not next to each other. The
effort was to ensure that everyone had a mix of good and bad land.
Beyond these strips of cultivation lay the common land. 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.
They fished in the rivers and ponds, and hunted rabbit in common
forests. For the poor, the common land was essential for survival. It
1   The Coming of Modern Agriculture in England
The threatening letters circulated widely.
At times the threats were gentle, at
others severe. Some of them were as
brief as the following.
Sir
This is to acquaint you that if your
threshing  machines are not destroyed
by you directly we shall commence our
labours.
Signed on behalf of the whole
Swing
From E.J. Hobsbawm and George Rude,
Captain Swing.
Peasants and Farmers
119
Source B
This Swing letter is an example of a
sterner threat:
Sir ,
Your name is down amongst the Black
hearts in the Black Book and this is to
advise you and the like of you, who are
?? to make your wills.
Ye have been the Blackguard Enemies
of the people on all occasions, ye have
not yet done as ye ought.
Swing
supplemented their meagre income, sustained their cattle, and helped
them tide over bad times when crops failed.
In some parts of England, this economy of open fields and common
lands had started changing from about the sixteenth century. When
the price of wool went up in the world market in the sixteenth
century, rich farmers wanted to expand wool production to earn
profits. They were eager to improve their sheep breeds and ensure
good feed for them. They were keen on controlling large areas of
land in compact blocks to allow improved breeding. So they began
dividing and enclosing common land and building hedges around
their holdings to separate their property from that of others. They
drove out villagers who had small cottages on the commons, and
they prevented the poor from entering the enclosed fields.
Till the middle of the eighteenth century the enclosure movement
proceeded very slowly. The early enclosures were usually created by
individual landlords. They were not supported by the state or the
church. After the mid-eighteenth century, however, the enclosure
movement swept through the countryside, changing the English
landscape for ever. Between 1750 and 1850, 6 million acres of land
was enclosed. The British Parliament no longer watched this process
from a distance. It passed 4,000 Acts legalising these enclosures.
Fig.1 ? Threshing machines broken in different counties of England
during the Captain Swing movement.(1830-32)
Based on E. J. Hobsbawm and George Rude, Captain Swing.
Number of machines broken
Swing movement areas
India and the Contemporary World
120
1.2 New Demands for Grain
Why was there such a frantic effort to enclose lands?  What did the
enclosures imply? The new enclosures were different from the old.
Unlike the sixteenth-century enclosures that promoted sheep farming,
the land being enclosed in the late eighteenth century was for grain
production. The new enclosures were happening in a different context;
they became a sign of a changing time. From the mid-eighteenth
century, the English population expanded rapidly. Between 1750 and
1900, it multiplied over four times, mounting from 7 million in 1750
to 21 million in 1850 and 30 million in 1900. This meant an increased
demand for foodgrains to feed the population. Moreover, Britain at
this time was industrialising. More and more people began to live
and work in urban areas. Men from rural areas migrated to towns in
search of jobs. To survive they had to buy foodgrains in the market.
As the urban population grew, the market for foodgrains expanded,
and when demand increased rapidly, foodgrain prices rose.
By the end of the eighteenth century, France was at war with England.
This disrupted trade and the import of foodgrains from Europe.
Prices of foodgrains in England sky rocketed, encouraging landowners
to enclose lands and enlarge the area under grain cultivation. Profits
flowed in and landowners pressurised the Parliament to pass the
Enclosure Acts.
Activity
Look at the graph carefully. See how the price
line moves up sharply in the 1790s and slumps
dramatically after 1815. Can you explain why the
line of the graph shows this pattern?
New words
Bushel ? A measure of capacity.
Shillings ? An English currency. 20 shillings = £1
Fig.2 ? Annual average wheat prices in England and Wales: 1771-1850.
0
20
40
60
80
100
120
1 771 -75
1776 -80
1781 - 85
1786 -90
1 7 9 1 -95
1796-18 0 0
1801 - 0 5
1 805 -10
1811 -15
1 816 -20
1821 -25
1826 - 30
1831 -35
183 6 -40
1841 - 45
1846 -50
YEARS
SHILLINGS PER BUSHEL
average price
Peasants and Farmers
121
1.3 The Age of Enclosures
There is one dramatic fact that makes the period after the 1780s
different from any earlier period in English history. In earlier times,
rapid population growth was most often followed by a period of
food shortages. Food-grain production in the past had not expanded
as rapidly as the population. In the nineteenth century this did not
happen in England. Grain production grew as quickly as population.
Even though the population increased rapidly, in 1868 England
was producing  about 80 per cent of the food it consumed. The
rest was imported.
This increase in food-grain production was made possible not by
any radical innovations in agricultural technology, but by bringing
new lands 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.
Farmers at this time continued to use the simple innovations in
agriculture that had become common by the early eighteenth
Fig.3 ? Suffolk countryside in the early nineteenth century.
This is a painting by the English painter John Constable (1776 -1837). Son of a wealthy corn merchant, he grew up in the
Suffolk countryside in east England, a region that had been enclosed much before the nineteenth century.  At a time when
the idyllic countryside was disappearing, the open fields were being enclosed, Constable painted sentimental images of open
countryside. In this particular painting we do see some fences and the separation of fields, but we get no idea of what was
happening in the landscape. Constable's paintings usually did not have working people. If you look at Fig.1, you will see that
Suffolk was surrounded by regions where threshing machines were broken in large numbers during the Swing riots.
Fig.4 ? Enclosures of common field by
Parliamentary Acts: eighteenth-nineteenth
centuries.
Based on E. J. Hobsbawm and George Rude,
Captain Swing.
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