“The diary is rich in agricultural topics, including agricultural reform, plantation economy, slave society, agricultural associations, declining land values, perceptions of soil exhaustion, marl and other manures, subsistence and market crops, cultivation practices, mechanization, transportation, the sickly or malaria season, and even forestry practices.”
—Anne Millbrooke, Journal of Southern History
The centerpiece of this generously annotated book is the diary kept by the celebrated agricultural reformer Edmund Ruffin during the eight months in 1843 when, at the request of Governor James Henry Hammond, he conducted an economic survey of South Carolina, traveling to every corner of the state to examine the different farming methods in use and the resources available for their improvement. Ruffin’s succinct and pointed narrative, driven by a passionate interest in the perpetuation of slavery, recaptures for the modern reader the physical and social environment of the Palmetto State two decades before the outbreak of the Civil War in the Charleston harbor.
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