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TABLE OF CONTENTS.

PREFACE..

245

INTRODUCTION...

247

I. THE INLAND TOWNS AND THEIR VILLAGE SETTLEMENTS.

251

2

The Villages..

252

Occupations of the Village-Dwellers.

253

Ministers, Lawyers and Physicians

254

The Business Men..

256

The Country Store.

258

Village Industries.

260

The Mechanics and Artisans.

262

The Lack of Division of Labor-Causes and Results.

266

Manufactures in Inland Towns..

268

Hats...

269

The Iron Industry.

270

Shoemaking..

273

Woolen Cloth.

273

Cotton Spinning.

274

Summary...

275

II. THE COAST AND RIVER TOWNS..

277

Four Groups of Commercial Towns

(1) On Massachusetts Bay

277

(2) The Ports Along Long Island Sound.

280

(3) Connecticut River Towns..

285

(4) Cape Cod and Nantucket.

287

Summary-Relation of the Maritime Industries to Agriculture.. 291

III. COMMERCIAL RELATIONS OF SOUTHERN NEW ENGLAND WITH THE

SOUTHERN STATES AND THE WEST INDIES..

294

Markets Outside New England:

(a) New York City...

294

(b) Regions of Specialized Agriculture.

295

(1) The Chesapeake Lowlands.

295

(2) The Coastal Plains of South Carolina and Georgia... 297

(3) The West Indies..

300

Estimate of the Importance of these Markets.

304

IV. INTERNAL TRADE AND THE TRANSPORTATION SYSTEM.

306

The Waterways.

307

The Roads and Highways.

311

How the Roads Were Laid Out.

312

Means of Conveyance..

314

The Building of Turnpike Roads.

315

The Effect of Turnpike Roads on Inland Trade.

316

The Insignificance of Internal Trade.....

318

V. THE AGRICULTURAL INDUSTRY..

319

Contemporary Criticism.

319

Farm Management in 1800.

321

Size of Farms.

321

The Importance of Indian Corn.

322

Why the Wheat Crop Failed..

323

The Lack of Root Crops.

324

The Rotation of Crops.

326

The Neglect of Manure.

328

PAGE

The Farm Equipment-Buildings, Tools and Implements..

331

The Yield Per Acre of Various Crops...

333

The Apple Orchard..

334

The Management of Woodland.

334

Meadows and Pastureland..

336

The Native Cattle..

337

Oxen and Horses .

338

Sheep of the Common Breed.

340

The Importations of Merino Sheep.

341

The Agricultural Societies-Character of their Work..

342

The Contemporary Criticisms were Deserved.

345

But the Explanation Given was not Sufficient.

346

Inefficiency of Agriculture was not Due to Ignorance.

346

Conservatism.

349

Land was Cheap and Labor Dear-Washington's Explanation. 349

The Effect of Cheap Land-The Frontier.

350

Emigration.

351

The Real Cause of Inefficient Agriculture was the Lack of a Mar-

ket for Farm Products..

352

VI. HOME AND COMMUNITY LIFE IN THE INLAND TOWN

354

The Self-sufficiency of New England Farms.

354

Clothing—The Age of Homespun..

357

The Organization of the Household Industries.

361

The Building and Furnishing of Farmhouses.

363

The Versatility and Ingenuity of Yankee Farmers.

365

Commodities Bought and Sold by a Minister-Farmer.

366

The Result of Self-sufficient Economy was a Low Standard of Living. 368

The Contrary Opinion Held by Travelers......

368

Wealth was Equally Distributed.

370

Agriculture was not a Means of Making Money.

371

Land was Cheap, Hence no Class of Wage-Earners.

372

Paupers-Cost of Poor Relief-Causes of Poverty.

373

The Vice of Intemperance-Its Causes..

374

Tendencies Toward Social Degeneration.

376

Virtues of the Age of Homespun.

377

Educative Effects ..

378

The Importance of the Mechanical Ingenuity of the Yankee Farmer

in the Future Industrial Development of New England.... 378

The Home Market.....

380

APPENDIX A. POPULATION STATISTICS OF SOUTHERN NEW ENGLAND.

1810.,

381

APPENDIX B. EMIGRATION FROM THE INLAND TOWNS IN SOUTHERN

NEW ENGLAND. 1720–1820.

383

APPENDIX C. PARTIAL LIST OF WORKS ON AGRICULTURE PUBLISHED

IN THE UNITED STATES BEFORE 1815...

392

BIBLIOGRAPHY..

394

MAP-DISTRIBUTION OF POPULATION IN SOUTHERN NEW ENGLAND,

1810......

Facing page 277

PREFACE.

The following chapters are a part, only, of a larger work which I have undertaken, a history of the changes in the rural economy of New England in the nineteenth century. In broad outline such a history falls into three periods: (1) The period of self-sufficient economy, which had existed since the settlement of the country, reaching the highest point of its development at the beginning of the nineteenth century; a period in which the characteristic features of rural economy were the absence of any market for farm produce and the consequent dependence of each town and, to a large extent, of each household, even, on its own resources for the satisfaction of its wants. (2) The period of transition to commercial agriculture, under the stimulus afforded by the rise of manufacturing enterprises in inland towns and villages and the consequent demand for food and raw materials on the part of the newly-arisen nonagricultural population; the years included in this period being approximately the two generations from 1810 down to the close of the Civil War. (3) The period of the decadence of New England agriculture, extending from the close of the Civil War to the end of the nineteenth century; a period in which the increasing pressure of Western competition caused the abandonment of large numbers of New England farms and a decline in both the quantity and quality of the rural population. It was thus that the Rural Problem of New England arose. From an appreciation of the importance of the problem have arisen organized efforts looking toward its solution, toward an economic and social rehabilitation of rural life in this region.

The chapters here presented constitute a survey of the rural economy of the three states of southern New England at the close of the first period.

I desire to make acknowledgment of the courtesies extended to me by the librarians of the American Antiquarian Society, the Connecticut Historical Society, and of the Harvard and Yale University libraries. My thanks are due also to various members of the Department of Economics of the Graduate School of Yale University, and also to Professor F. W. Taussig of Harvard University, for encouragement and helpful suggestions.

In a very especial manner I am indebted to the late Professor Guy S. Callender, of the Sheffield Scientific School of Yale University, who directed my researches in this field. Without his helpful advice, his illuminating criticism and his stimulating companionship this book could not have been written.

PERCY WELLS BIDWELL. New Haven, January 1, 1916.

INTRODUCTION.

It is the purpose of this essay to analyze the economic conditions of life in inland towns in southern New England a century ago, with a view to showing in what way, and to what extent, these conditions were effective in shaping the peculiar features of home and community life of this region at the time. In other words, it is our aim in the first place to discover what were the most important circumstances which affected the ability of the inhabitants of these towns to produce wealth, that is, to satisfy their wants, to get a living; and in the second place, to show in what ways these people sought to adapt themselves to their circumstances so as to satisfy their wants most easily, to get the best living possible.

The townships into which the area of Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut was at this time divided were more than convenient geographical divisions for administrative purposes; they were units of economic and religious as well as of political life. Inside these economic microcosms, these cells of the social organism, there were developed distinctive individual habits and characteristics, and distinctive social customs. The stern austerities of New England character have often caused comment and discussion, as have also the remarkable energy, industry and ingenuity of its people. So also the peculiar unity and cohesion of their social and religious life are well-known and accepted facts. But the interest of most students and writers in these matters has been that of the mere antiquarian. A detached fact, an isolated idea, concerning the life of the early settlers of this region has been picked up and examined with enthusiastic interest and with a certain kind of appreciation, such as a connoisseur of antiques might display when rummaging for old crockery or furniture through the attic of a farmhouse. Rarely has there been an attempt at real economic history; that is, at an explanation, a synthetic reconstruction of the way in which these people got their living. To do this all these scattered, and of themselves interesting facts must be fitted together, must be brought into some orderly relation showing cause and effect; they must be interpreted in the light of the fundamental principles of economic theory. In this essay such an attempt at reconstruction and interpretation will be made.

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