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The American Farmer in the Eighteenth CenturyA Social and Cultural History$
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Richard Lyman Bushman

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780300226737

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300226737.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM YALE SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.yale.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Yale University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in YSO for personal use.date: 10 April 2021

Farmers’ Markets

Farmers’ Markets

How the Exchange Economy Formed Society

Chapter:
(p.122) 7. Farmers’ Markets
Source:
The American Farmer in the Eighteenth Century
Author(s):

Richard Lyman Bushman

Publisher:
Yale University Press
DOI:10.12987/yale/9780300226737.003.0007

Hempstead’s household economy produced enough to supply his family and to yield a surplus for exchange in the town economy. He was constantly performing services for his neighbors or trading goods. These exchanges which bound townspeople together in a web of debt and obligation formed the sinews of local society. Relationships of trust developed over years of economic exchange, becoming the basis for selecting spouses, electing people to public office, and granting credit. Had Hempstead lived in Virginia, less trust would have been required for exchanges. Warehouse receipts issued by tobacco inspectors facilitated exchange without the parties needing to evaluate each other’s credit worthiness. Hempstead’s ability to incur debt measured his economic strength. Most active farmers were both debtors and creditors. Debt was a sign of vigor not of weakness. Those who could not buy on credit were at a disadvantage in purchasing land for their children or expanding their enterprise in any way. Debt was a necessary outgrowth of engaging in the exchange economy.

Keywords:   Debt, Credit, Exchange, Trust, Society

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