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With this book, Allan Kulikoff offers a sweeping new interpretation of the origins and development of the small farm economy in Britain's mainland American colonies. Examining the lives of farmers and their families, he tells the story of immigration to the colonies, traces patterns of settlement, analyzes the growth of markets, and assesses the impact of the Revolution on small farm society.
Beginning with the dispossession of the peasantry in early modern England, Kulikoff follows the immigrants across the Atlantic to explore how they reacted to a hostile new environment and its Indian inhabitants. He discusses how colonists secured land, built farms, and bequeathed those farms to their children. Emphasizing commodity markets in early America, Kulikoff shows that without British demand for the colonists' crops, settlement could not have begun at all. Most important, he explores the destruction caused during the American Revolution, showing how the war thrust farmers into subsistence production and how they only gradually regained their prewar prosperity.
[This book] lays the ground for an understanding of the centrality of independent farm households in the Revolutionary and early national periods. (William and Mary Quarterly)
An extraordinary book, rich in detail and deep in analysis. . . . [with] an exquisite prologue. (Choice)
In an arresting and original conceptualization, Allan Kulikoff focuses upon the farm household as both the characteristic unit of settlement and the fondest aspiration of settlers throughout the American colonies. (Elizabeth Fox-Genovese, Emory University)