“Their Little Gardens”
Whether or not to allow the rise of American industry during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries was one of the most significant issues that faced the new nation, and the development of Harpers Ferry was significantly influenced by this debate. The majority of American citizens believed that society should remain agrarian, since agriculture was perceived to be the only true and legitimate source of wealth. America was seen as a purifying natural paradise, and relationships to the land were seen as simple, harmonious, and responsible. Pro-agrarians, such as Thomas Jefferson and Daniel Webster, feared that the consequences of industry would destroy the moral fiber of society. The proindustrialists countered and diffused the proagrarian sentiment by presenting an industrial system that the agriculturalists could accept. Proindustrialists, such as Alexander Hamilton and Trench Coxe, conceded that industry should be an activity subsidiary to farming. They believed that factories should be located in rural areas and exploit what they perceived as previously untapped labor resources, such as “idle women, children, and older members of the population” (Kasson 1979; Marx 1964; Prude 1983:31–41; Shelton 1986: 28ff). The creation of a nonurban American industry was meant to avoid the ills of European cities. Industrialists created an ideology that rural industry would make unimproved nature productive.
KeywordsEarly Nineteenth Century Fish Scale Phytolith Analysis Government Land Pastoral Setting
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