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An anxious pursuit : agricultural innovation and modernity in the lower South, 1730-1815 / Joyce E. Chaplin.

By: Chaplin, Joyce E.
Contributor(s): Institute of Early American History and Culture (Williamsburg, Va.).
Material type: TextTextPublisher: Chapel Hill : Published for the Institute of Early American History and Culture, Williamsburg, Virginia, by the University of North Carolina Press, c1993Description: xiv, 411 p. : ill., maps ; 25 cm.ISBN: 0807820849 (cloth : alk. paper); 9780807820841 (cloth : alk. paper); 0807846139 (pbk.); 9780807846131 (pbk.).Subject(s): Southern States -- History -- Colonial period, ca. 1600-1775 | Southern States -- History -- 1775-1865 | Agriculture -- Southern States -- History | Slavery -- Southern States -- History | Plantation life -- Southern States -- History | Agriculture Southern History | Geschichte 1730-1815 | Plantation Southern History | Slavery Southern History | Southern History 1775-1865 | Southern History Colonial period, ca. 1600-1775Additional physical formats: Online version:: Anxious pursuit.; Online version:: Anxious pursuit.DDC classification: 975/.02 Other classification: 15.85 | 15.87
Contents:
Ch. 1. Perspectives on the Development of a Plantation Region -- 1. Considering Modernity. Ch. 2. The Fate of Progress in the Early Lower South. Ch. 3. Being Exotic. Ch. 4. The Local Work Ethic. Ch. 5. Projects and Power -- 2. Realizing Modernity. Ch. 6. Crisis and Response: Indigo and Cotton. Ch. 7. Crisis and Response: Tidal Rice Cultivation. Ch. 8. Creating a Cotton South. Ch. 9. Factories and Fields -- Epilogue: Slavery, Progress, and the "Federo-national" Union.
Summary: In An Anxious Pursuit, Joyce Chaplin examines the impact of Enlightenment ideas of progress on the lives and minds of American planters in the colonial Lower South. She focuses particularly on the influence of Scottish notions of progress, tracing the extent to which planters in South Carolina, Georgia, and British East Florida perceived themselves as a modern, improving people. She reads developments in agricultural practice as indices of planters' desire for progress, and she demonstrates the central role played by slavery in their pursuit of modern life. By linking behavior and ideas, Chaplin has produced a work of cultural history that unites intellectual, social, and economic history.Summary: Using public records as well as planters' and farmers' private papers, Chaplin examines innovations in rice, indigo, and cotton cultivation as a window through which to see planters' pursuit of a modern future. She demonstrates that planters actively sought to improve their society and economy even as they suffered a pervasive anxiety about the corrupting impact of progress and commerce. The basis for their accomplishments and the root of their anxieties, according to Chaplin, were the same: race-based chattel slavery. Slaves provided the labor necessary to attain planters' vision of the modern, but the institution ultimately limited the Lower South's ability to compete in the contemporary world.Summary: Indeed, whites continued to wonder whether their innovations, some of them defied by slaves, truly improved the region. Chaplin argues that these apprehensions prefigured the antimodern stance of the antebellum period, but she contends that they were as much a reflection of the doubt inherent in theories of progress as an outright rejection of those ideas.
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Item type Current location Call number Status Date due Barcode
Book University of Texas At Tyler
Stacks - 3rd Floor
F212 .C47 1993 (Browse shelf) Available 0000001834118

Includes bibliographical references (p. [369]-396) and index.

Ch. 1. Perspectives on the Development of a Plantation Region -- 1. Considering Modernity. Ch. 2. The Fate of Progress in the Early Lower South. Ch. 3. Being Exotic. Ch. 4. The Local Work Ethic. Ch. 5. Projects and Power -- 2. Realizing Modernity. Ch. 6. Crisis and Response: Indigo and Cotton. Ch. 7. Crisis and Response: Tidal Rice Cultivation. Ch. 8. Creating a Cotton South. Ch. 9. Factories and Fields -- Epilogue: Slavery, Progress, and the "Federo-national" Union.

In An Anxious Pursuit, Joyce Chaplin examines the impact of Enlightenment ideas of progress on the lives and minds of American planters in the colonial Lower South. She focuses particularly on the influence of Scottish notions of progress, tracing the extent to which planters in South Carolina, Georgia, and British East Florida perceived themselves as a modern, improving people. She reads developments in agricultural practice as indices of planters' desire for progress, and she demonstrates the central role played by slavery in their pursuit of modern life. By linking behavior and ideas, Chaplin has produced a work of cultural history that unites intellectual, social, and economic history.

Using public records as well as planters' and farmers' private papers, Chaplin examines innovations in rice, indigo, and cotton cultivation as a window through which to see planters' pursuit of a modern future. She demonstrates that planters actively sought to improve their society and economy even as they suffered a pervasive anxiety about the corrupting impact of progress and commerce. The basis for their accomplishments and the root of their anxieties, according to Chaplin, were the same: race-based chattel slavery. Slaves provided the labor necessary to attain planters' vision of the modern, but the institution ultimately limited the Lower South's ability to compete in the contemporary world.

Indeed, whites continued to wonder whether their innovations, some of them defied by slaves, truly improved the region. Chaplin argues that these apprehensions prefigured the antimodern stance of the antebellum period, but she contends that they were as much a reflection of the doubt inherent in theories of progress as an outright rejection of those ideas.

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Debate over the economic character of the pre-Civil War South never ends. Some argue for a plantation South that was precapitalist and some argue that the same South was the leading edge of American capitalism, with world participation and considerable venture capital. Chaplin has entered the debate with a review of Enlightenment thought and southern applications of that thought. She offers a compelling analysis of the development of rice, indigo, and the cotton economies of South Carolina and Georgia, and an evocation of the constant search for innovation and the ever-present adaptation of Old World practices to the new. She concludes that the 18th- and early 19th-century South was very much aware of and dedicated to the prerequisites of capitalist enterprise. The Napoleonic Wars encouraged experimentation with diversification. The postwar decision to emphasize staple crop agriculture mirrored rational economic choice based on success and reflected a nationalist orientation of the post-Revolutionary planters. A wide variety of public and private records and an impressive familiarity with secondary literature help make this an important contribution to southern and Revolutionary era historiography. Advanced undergraduate; graduate; faculty. T. F. Armstrong; Francis Marion University

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