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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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American Agriculture, 1800–1862

American Agriculture, 1800–1862

(p.273) 14. American Agriculture, 1800–1862
The American Farmer in the Eighteenth Century

Richard Lyman Bushman

Yale University Press

After 1800, the primary market for agricultural products shifted from overseas ports to cities in the United States. Growing urban populations created an ever-increasing demand, not only for standard products like breadstuffs and meat, but for new ones like pears and brooms. To take advantage of this opportunity, farmers increased their efficiency by employing machinery and cropping their fields continuously rather than letting them go to long fallow. This created a need for fertilizers to restore the soil and permanent fences for fields that remained in use. Under the influence of city values, farmers spent the returns from their heightened sales on refinements such as carpets and curtains to counter the charge of being rural rubes. Despite the adoption of improved methods to increase market production, farmers still practiced self-provisioning as far as possible. They made and grew everything they could for themselves even while their needs for urban goods increased. Not until World War II did farmers give up the practice of living off their farms. Since then, the number of small farms has steadily diminished and the farm population has shrunk to less than 2% of the population. Still farmers value the integrity of the farm life and want their children to participate.

Keywords:   Markets, Cities, Self-provisioning, Refinements, Population

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