An Agrarian RepublicFarming, Antislavery Politics, and Nature Parks in the Civil War Era

An Agrarian RepublicFarming, Antislavery Politics, and Nature Parks in the Civil War Era

Adam Wesley Dean

Print publication date: 2016

ISBN: 9781469619910

Publisher: University of North Carolina Press

Abstract

The familiar story of the Civil War tells of a predominately agricultural South pitted against a rapidly industrializing North. However, this book argues that the Republican Party’s political ideology was fundamentally agrarian. Believing that small farms owned by families for generations led to a model society, Republicans supported a northern agricultural ideal in opposition to southern plantation agriculture, which destroyed the land’s productivity, required constant western expansion, and produced an elite landed gentry hostile to the Union. The book shows how agrarian republicanism shaped the debate over slavery’s expansion, spurred the creation of the Department of Agriculture and the passage of the Homestead Act, and laid the foundation for the development of the earliest nature parks.