The Tobacco-Plantation South in the Early American Atlantic World

Hardcover | January 8, 2013

bySteven Sarson

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In contrast to Thomas Jefferson's yeoman myth, Sarson's groundbreaking analysis of the early national Upper South, Thomas Jefferson's own home region, uncovers extensive inequality, landlessness, and poverty, and often antagonistic relationships between planters, yeoman, artisans, tenants, wage-workers, indentured servants, slaves, and free blacks. With detailed analysis of particular localities, this book explores economic and social life across a region encompassing the tobacco-planting regions of Maryland, Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee. It simultaneously takes a cis-Atlantic approach, examining the impacts on local life of the Revolutionary War, non-intercourse and embargoes, the War of 1812, and the structure of the international tobacco trade.

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In contrast to Thomas Jefferson's yeoman myth, Sarson's groundbreaking analysis of the early national Upper South, Thomas Jefferson's own home region, uncovers extensive inequality, landlessness, and poverty, and often antagonistic relationships between planters, yeoman, artisans, tenants, wage-workers, indentured servants, s...

Steven Sarson is a senior lecturer in Department of History at Swansea University (UK). He is the author of British America: Creating Colonies, Imagining an Empire, 1500-1800.

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:274 pages, 8.5 × 5.5 × 0.62 inPublished:January 8, 2013Publisher:Palgrave MacmillanLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0230111890

ISBN - 13:9780230111899

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Table of Contents

Introduction: The "Chosen People": Agrarian Myths and Messier Realities Prologue: "The Interest of the County": Prince George's County Levy Court and Local Politics, Economy, and Society"The Way to Make a Huge Fortune": The Planters"One must differentiate oneself a little": Planter Gentility, Economy, Dynasty, and Politics"I Don't Stand to the Will": Yeomen Farmers and Smallholders"Being Allowed the Liberty": Tenant Farmers and Artisans "The Torment with the Servants": Wage Workers, Servants, and SlavesEpilogue: "Objects of Distress": The Poor and the DestituteAppendix: A Statistical Analysis of Wealth Distribution and Mobility

Editorial Reviews

"Sarson (Swansea Univ., UK) has written a meticulously researched cis-Atlantic study of wealth, power, and inequality in the early national upper South . . . In five tightly argued chapters, the author shows how the wealthy elite got richer while the poor struggled to survive. The early national tobacco South, as Sarson explicates, was a world structured by possessive-individualist ideology, vicissitudes of Atlantic market forces, inequality, and exploitation . . . Highly recommended." - Choice"The American Revolution did not fulfill its promise in Prince George's County, Maryland. Sarson's new book shows that the break with Britain failed to inaugurate an era of widespread opportunity for enterprising white families - and certainly for free or enslaved African Americans. Tracking the history of inequality in an Upper South county, this impressively researched and persuasively argued study offers a fresh perspective on the formative era of the new nation's history." - Peter S. Onuf, University of Virginia, USA"The Tobacco-Plantation South in the Early American Atlantic World provides a deeply researched and strongly narrated analysis based on the extensive local records of Prince George's County, Maryland, a place marked across the years by Revolutionary crisis and post-war adjustments to independence. Sarson offers a compelling challenge to the enduring myth that political independence paved the way to more widespread property ownership and, with it, egalitarianism. Instead, tobacco plantations, slavery, and landlessness persisted in Prince George's County, along with a social reality of deepening impoverishment." - Cathy Matson, The University of Delaware, USA"Sarson digs deeply in a rich cache of historical archives and records to reconstruct life in a large swath of the Upper South. Admirably, he analyzes the society from top to bottom - from planters to small farmers to the landless majority of the population, consisting of tenants, wage workers, servants, and slaves. This impressive book challenges the age-old agrarian myths, replacing them more appropriately with realities on the ground." - Billy G. Smith, Montana State University, USA, author of Ship of Death: The Voyage that Changed the Atlantic World"If you like seeing myths busted, you'll love this book." - Woody Holton, University of Richmond, USA, author of Forced Founders: Indians, Debtors, Slaves, and the Making of the American Revolution in Virginia