Synopses & Reviews
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.
“[An] eye-opening and rousing chronicle of American agriculture and its industrialization.” —Booklist
“An engaging examination of the early proponents of restorative husbandry.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Evocative and provocative, written with verve and passion and with new insights on every page, this is a book that every nineteenth-century historian will want to read.” —Daniel Feller, University of New Mexico
“[A] valuable act of reclamation.” —Bill Kauffman, The Wall Street Journal
A Major History of Early Americans Ideas about Conservation
Fifty years after the Revolution, American farmers faced a crisis: the failing soils of the Atlantic states threatened the agricultural prosperity upon which the republic was founded. Larding the Lean Earth explores the tempestuous debates that erupted between “improvers,” intent on sustaining the soil of existing farms, and “emigrants,” who thought it wiser and more “American” to move westward as the soil gave out. Larding the Lean Earth is a signal work of environmental history and an original contribution to the study of antebellum America.
About the Author
, an associate professor of history and environmental studies at Yale University, is the author of The Fruits of Natural Advantage: Making the Industrial Countryside
in California. He lives in New Haven, Connecticut.