Allan Kulikoff's book aims to trace the rural origins and growth of capitalism in America, challenging earlier scholarship and aiming to chart a new course for future studies in history and economics. Kulikoff argues that long before the explosive growth of cities and big factories, capitalism in the countryside changes our society - the ties between men and women, the relations between different social classes, the rhetoric of the yeomanry, slave migration and frontier settlement. The essays in this book examine the debates swirling around capitalism in America, aiming to illuminate the battles between small farmers and speculators over land, money and credit through case studies of the yeoman classes, the languages of rural class and the migration of both whites and slaves. Three pivotal essays on the American Revolution show its importance for the coming of capitalism and in the resistance to it. Looking at capitalism from the farm and the village, Kulikoff challenges the received wisdom that capitalism began in New York, Philadelphia and Boston.
He studies the formation of the yeoman class in the context of the household and its work life - who milked the cows and who cut the wheat. By showing how farms fed world markets, Kulikoff asks scholars to redefine local studies within the milieu of broad economic relations. This book should invite debate and controversy among historians and social scientists.
Publisher: University of Virginia Press