The American Farmer in the Eighteenth Century A Social and Cultural History Richard L. Bushman

Publication date:
10 Jul 2018
Yale University Press
400 pages: 235 x 156 x 33mm
8 b-w illus.
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An illuminating study of America’s agricultural society during the Colonial, Revolutionary, and Founding eras

In the eighteenth century, three‑quarters of Americans made their living from farms. This authoritative history explores the lives, cultures, and societies of America’s farmers from colonial times through the founding of the nation. Noted historian Richard Bushman explains how all farmers sought to provision themselves while still actively engaged in trade, making both subsistence and commerce vital to farm economies of all sizes. The book describes the tragic effects on the native population of farmers’ efforts to provide farms for their children and examines how climate created the divide between the free North and the slave South. Bushman also traces midcentury rural violence back to the century’s population explosion. An engaging work of historical scholarship, the book draws on a wealth of diaries, letters, and other writings—including the farm papers of Thomas Jefferson and George Washington—to open a window on the men, women, and children who worked the land in early America.

Richard Lyman Bushman is Gouverneur Morris Professor of History Emeritus at Columbia University. He is a winner of the Bancroft Prize and serves on the National Advisory Board for The Joseph Smith Papers

“[A] landmark book.”—Robert A. Gross, The Journal of American History

The American Farmer in the Eighteenth Century offers a broad and deep look at the roughly three hundred thousand farms that dotted eastern North America by the time of the American Revolution” — J.M. Opal, American Historical Review

“This is the only scholarly work that takes a multiregional approach to the history of agrarian life in eighteenth-century British America. It is an ambitious and elegantly written study.”—Virginia DeJohn Anderson, author of The Martyr and the Traitor: Nathan Hale, Moses Dunbar, and the American Revolution

“This book is the mark of a historian who knows his craft. It is a meticulously researched and clearly written study that surely will stand the test of time for usable history.”—R. Douglas Hurt, author of Food and Agriculture during the Civil War

“This gracefully written, fast-paced narrative makes a courageous effort to place farmers at center stage, rather than on the periphery. Readers will be captivated by Bushman’s command of the subject.”—David Vaught, Texas A&M University

"Drawing on the insights of a long and distinguished career, Richard Bushman has written a notable book. The American Farmer in the Eighteenth Century offers an original, highly readable account of agricultural practices and values in early America, and their legacy for later United States history."—Christopher Clark, University of Connecticut

“In this brilliant history of rural life, Richard Bushman reveals with insight and empathy the resourceful struggles by farm families to wrest security from a volatile climate and fickle market.”—Alan Taylor, author of American Revolutions: A Continental History, 1750-1804