“You may have thought that nothing more could possibly be said about the agricultural performance of the antebellum slave South, but Mathew has proved the contrary. . . . The study amounts to an extended critique of the geographical-determinist interpretation of southern agricultural backwardness.”
—Gavin Wright, Journal of Interdisciplinary History
In 1818, Edmund Ruffin, then a young Virginia planter, began conducting chemical and rotational experiments on his Coggin’s Point plantation on the James River. His findings became the basis for the most progressive and sophisticated reform proposals to be formulated in the slaveholding South. Tracing Ruffin’s passionate advocacy of both agricultural reform and slavery, William M. Mathew pinpoints in this book many of the contradictions that underlay the economic and social structures of the antebellum South.
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