Nebraska Academy of Sciences


Date of this Version


Document Type



Published in Transactions of the Nebraska Academy of Science, Volume 4 (1977).


Copyright 1977 by the Authors; used by permission of the NAS


The purpose of this paper is to summarize important historical developments in agriculture in what is now the United States, from the earliest colonial times to the present. In terms of the length of time of human history on this world, this period is so short as to seem almost insignificant. However, in terms of progress, the situation is the opposite-more has been accomplished in agriculture in this fraction of a millennium than in all previous history combined.

Agriculture, under immigrant settlers in what is now the United States, had its beginnings in the seventeenth century. The thirteen original colonies were settled predominantly by the English, but also by the Dutch, Germans, Swedes, Irish and Welsh, and by African slaves. Meanwhile, the Spanish and French, and to a lesser extent the English, also established colonies in the southeastern part of the United States, and the Spanish also in the southwest. All of these settlements had agricultural involvements.