An Anxious Pursuit: Agricultural Innovation and Modernity in the Lower South, 1730-1815 / Edition 1

An Anxious Pursuit: Agricultural Innovation and Modernity in the Lower South, 1730-1815 / Edition 1

by Joyce E. Chaplin
     
 

ISBN-10: 0807846139

ISBN-13: 9780807846131

Pub. Date: 09/09/1996

Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press

In An Anxious Pursuit, Joyce Chaplin examines the impact of the 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

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Overview

In An Anxious Pursuit, Joyce Chaplin examines the impact of the 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 the Chaplin, were the same: race-based chattel slavery. Slaves provied 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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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780807846131
Publisher:
The University of North Carolina Press
Publication date:
09/09/1996
Series:
Published for the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture, Williamsburg, Virginia Series
Edition description:
1
Pages:
429
Product dimensions:
6.12(w) x 9.25(h) x 1.05(d)

Table of Contents

Preface
Illustrations and Tables
Abbreviations
Ch. 1Perspectives on the Development of a Plantation Region1
1Considering Modernity
Ch. 2The Fate of Progress in the Early Lower South23
Ch. 3Being Exotic66
Ch. 4The Local Work Ethic92
Ch. 5Projects and Power131
2Realizing Modernity
Ch. 6Crisis and Response: Indigo and Cotton187
Ch. 7Crisis and Response: Tidal Rice Cultivation227
Ch. 8Creating a Cotton South277
Ch. 9Factories and Fields330
Epilogue: Slavery, Progress, and the "Federo-national" Union356
Statistical Method367
Bibliography369
Index397

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