As an example of the financial condition of this time, the farmers of the Northeastern states were enjoying relative prosperity during the years immediately after the Civil War. Dairying, hay, and potatoes were sources of income. Products found ready customers among the numerous large cities on the Eastern seaboard, and competition was still scarce. The continued growth of the West, however, combined with the dramatically improved transportation methods, acted as a spur to the economy and gradually drove the value of Eastern farmland down.
The Midwest states, like Ohio, also suffered from the same conditions. Western competition, and loss of crops to insect infestation, drove farmers into dairying, which in turn led to increased competition with Eastern farmers and an attendant drop in real estate value.
The Southern states had continued to produce crops like coffee, tobacco and sugar but were in a condition of ruin following the war. Farms were overrun, many farm owners had been killed in the war, and, most important, farming was undergoing a complete revolution in the methods of harvesting and delivery. The freeing of the slaves had eliminated a significant part of the labor force. Owners who had depended upon the readily available labor of slaves were ill-equipped to do their manual labor themselves.