Univ of Georgia Pr

Agriculture, Geology, and Society in Antebellum South Carolina: The Private Diary of Edmund Ruffin, 1843

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ISBN: 9780820313245
Publisher: Univ of Georgia Pr
Edition:
Publication Date: 1992-06
Number of pages: 424
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The centrepiece of this book is the diary kept by the celebrated agricultural reformer Edmund Ruffin during the eight months in 1843 in which he conducted an agricultural and geological survey of South Carolina. A vivid and informative account, the document offers a unique understanding of the state's planation economy during the late antebellum period. Ruffin believed that programmes of amelioration and diversification would relieve the argicultural depression of the state and help preserve its embattled system of slavery. At the request of Governor James Henry Hammond, Ruffin examined the different farming methods in use and the resources available for improvement. A published report of 1843 was the formal outcome; the diary was his private running commentary. Beginning in late January, Ruffin's field work took him through scenes of abandonment and desolation, down stumpy cart paths in unfamiliar terrain, and through thickly overgrown swamps, exposing him to severe weather and disease. During his travels through the state, he examined marl deposits, visited numerous plantations, met with agricultural societies and eminent South Carolinians, and even hunted alligators. Ruffin completed his survey by mid-September. This volume goes well beyond mere documentary reproduction. William M. Mathew offers an extended biographical supplement devoted to the prominent South Carolinians encountered by Ruffin, giving special attention to their farming practices and political philosophies. In his introduction Mathew recounts the preoccupation underlying Ruffin's survey and the reasons why it fell far short of its objectives.

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