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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: 27 September 2021

Founding Farmers

Founding Farmers

The Contradictions of the Planter Class

Chapter:
(p.193) 11. Founding Farmers
Source:
The American Farmer in the Eighteenth Century
Author(s):

Richard Lyman Bushman

Publisher:
Yale University Press
DOI:10.12987/yale/9780300226737.003.0011

The ancestors of Abraham Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson began their sojourns in America at approximately the same level. The Jeffersons subsequently rose to the heights of wealth and culture while the Lincolns remained in the middle. The reason was that southern planters not only enjoyed the benefits of a slave workforce, they lived under a government that entrusted gentlemen to develop unworked land. Those who gained a place among the gentry received huge grants on the supposition that they would open the land and provide a shelter for smaller planters. Peter Jefferson was one beneficiary of this practice, receiving grants in what became Albemarle County, lands that were inherited by his sons. Jefferson practiced rational agriculture. He corresponded with Arthur Young and read books by English reformers. He fertilized his land and planted clover. And yet Jefferson was bankrupt at his death. He was defeated by the contradictions of the planter class. The necessity of living as a gentleman in order to enjoy the benefits of that standing made it impossible for Jefferson to curtail his standard of living and pay off his debts.

Keywords:   Class, Rational agriculture, Slavery, Debt, Planters

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