Agriculture, Geology, and Society in Antebellum South Carolina
The Private Diary of Edmund Ruffin, 1843

Edmund Ruffin
Edited by William M. Mathew


“Mathew’s historical introduction . . . is a rather splendid little history on its own. . . . The book provokes the reader’s attention on the complex of moral and economic forces at work in a planter-dominated pre-war society. These were forces poorly understood at the time by both citizen and leader, but clear to us now in hindsight, thanks in part to books such as this one.”
—Robert B. Cuthbert, South Carolina Historical Magazine

“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

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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.

Page count: 384 pp.
Trim size: 6 x 9


List price: $31.95

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William M. Mathew is a senior fellow in history at the University of East Anglia. He is also the author of Edmund Ruffin and the Crisis of Slavery in the Old South: The Failure of Agricultural Reform (Georgia). His other books include The House of Gibbs and the Peruvian Guano Monopoly.