Baker & Taylor An early environmental debate is illuminated in this fascinating exploration of farmers in nineteenth-century America who argued over whether to improve conditions in the East or farm new lands in the West.
Book News Stoll (history, Yale U.) explores the debate that erupted in the 1820s, when American descents of European settlers noticed that the soil was being depleted by intense farming. One side favored improving the soil; the other moving on to pastures that were still green. He focuses on two groups of farmers in Pennsylvania and South Carolina. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
A major history of early Americans' ideas about conservation
Fifty years after the American Revolution, the yeoman farmers who made up a large part of the new country's voters faced a crisis. The very soil of American farms seemed to be failing, and agricultural prosperity, upon which the Republic was founded, was threatened. Steven Stoll's passionate and brilliantly argued book explores the tempestuous debates that erupted between "improvers," who believed in practices that sustained and bettered the soil of existing farms, and "emigrants," who thought it was wiser and more "American" to move westward as the soil gave out. Stoll examines the dozens of journals, from New York to Virginia, that gave voice to the improvers' cause. He also focuses especially on two groups of farmers, in Pennsylvania and South Carolina. He analyzes the similarities and differences in their farming habits in order to illustrate larger regional concerns about the "new husbandry" in free and slave states.
Farming has always been the human activity that most disrupts nature, for good or ill. The decisions these early Americans made about how to farm not only expressed their political and social faith, but also influenced American attitudes about the environment for decades to come. Larding the Lean Earth is a signal work of environmental history and an original contribution to the study of antebellum America.
Blackwell North Amer Fifty years after the Revolution, American farmers faced a crisis. The soils of the Atlantic states seemed to be failing, and some feared that the agricultural prosperity upon which the Republic was founded was threatened. Larding the Lean Earth explores the tempestuous debates that erupted between "improvers," who believed in practices that sustained and bettered the soil of existing farms, and "emigrants," who looked instead to the unbroken lands of the West as their soils gave out.