"We find one of the greatest charms of an agricultural life in its perfect inde
pendence. The farmer's prospects stand unaffected by the many fluctuating rela
tionships of society, and depend, in great measure, upon his single energy as d
irected to the operations of nature. His hopes and fears are not gauged by eve
ry breeze that blows in the mart, and the political arena. . . . And this great
independence of other pursuits cannot, we think, but create a corresponding in
dependence in the character of those engaged in agriculture. It must engender
a freedom of thought and action, so desireable for mental development, and whic
h is so often crushed in other callings, by their subserviency to each other."
The Cultivator, Vol. 6, No. 3 (May 1839)
I find such passages almost frightening in their modern relevance. The
latter, particularly, in its dismissal of the market and politics is very inter
esting, at least so I think.
I would like to be able to say more about why such ideals failed to per
suade contemporary farmers, and to cite some sources that discuss the problem.
Unfortunately I seem to be the first to take this particular approach, so ther
e is nothing published on the subject. Improvements in agriculture have, of co
urse been studied in detail. Those interested might look into the following:
* Danhoff, Clarence. Change in Agriculture. Harvard U. Press, 1969.
* Russell, Howard. A Long Deep Furrow. University Press of New England, 1976.
* Bidwell, Percy and John Falconer. History of Agriculture in the Northern
United States, 1620-1860. Carnegie Institution of Washington, 1925.
Equally interesting, I think, is a more recent discussion of the rural
economy and the role of farmers in the development of capitalism. Here again
are a few representative titles:
* Rothenberg, Winifred. From Market-Places to a Market Economy. University of
Chicago Press, 1992
* Kulikoff, allan. The Agrarian Origins of American Capitalism. University
Press of Virginia, 1992.
I hope that this satisfies some questions, and piques some interest.