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Volume 90, Number 4 (Winter 2016)

A Pattern for Improvement: Pattern Farms and Scientific Authority in Early Nineteenth-Century America TIMOTHY K. MINELLA

In the early nineteenth century, agricultural reformers in the United States called for the establishment of pattern farms, institutions that would conduct experiments in husbandry and model proper agricultural practices for farmers. This essay analyzes the drive to found pattern farms as an attempt to shift authority in agricultural science from a scattered network of farmers and agricultural journals to a central institution that would provide definitive judgments about proper practices. By advocating for pattern farms, agricultural reformers attempted to answer critiques from ordinary farmers who accused them of having little experience in working the land for a living. Reformers also envisioned that agricultural schools attached to pattern farms could instruct farmers in scientific agriculture, thus transforming them from ignorant commoners to enlightened gentlemen.

From Small Farms to Progressive Plantations: The Trajectory of Land Reform in the American Colonial Philippines, 1900-1916 THERESA VENTURA

In 1903 the American colonial government of the Philippines passed two major land acts designed to turn landless peasants into freeholders. Yet a mere two years later, US administrators declared the law a failure. This article asks why support for land redistribution changed so quickly. By setting the law in the context of state building and wartime pacification, it shows how administrators like William Howard Taft believed landownership would turn unruly agrarians into loyal subjects. The end of the war, coupled with changing political circumstances and the challenges of implementation, ultimately weakened the US commitment to redistribution. That prevailing in- equalities of rural landholding and wealth multiplied during American rule did not deter the US faith in commercial agriculture. Rather, administrators blamed peasant resistance to landownership for the law’s failure and argued that large plantations and sharecropping was the Philippines’ best path to development.

Happy Land: Women Landowners in Early West Feliciana Parish, Louisiana, 1813-1845 ADAM SUNDBERG AND SARA BROOKS SUNDBERG

While it is well known that a widespread minority of white women owned agricultural land in the early South, scholars rarely interpret them as landowners actively involved in acquiring or managing their lands. This paper investigates women as landholders in West Feliciana Parish, Louisiana, between 1813 and 1845. Using a combination of documentary property information with a GIS reconstruction of women’s landholdings in the parish, this article assesses the quality of land that women owned and their involvement with it. The study argues that women, like men, understood that land promised economic opportunity and security for themselves and their families. Their efforts to maintain and build upon their estates challenge their image as mere caretakers. Land was a vital concern to women because it helped them to fulfill their responsibilities as wives, mothers, and widows in caring for their family’s current and future welfare.

The Canada Thistle: The Pestilence of American Colonialisms and the Emergence of an Exceptionalist Identity, 1783-1839 TAYLOR SPENCE

This research demonstrates how a European plant, Cirsium arvense, common to North America since the sixteenth century and commonly considered a weed, became “Canadian” when Early National Americans labeled it the Canada thistle in the years leading up to the War of 1812. This naming comprised part of a host of actions citizens of the new United States took to differentiate themselves from their imperial progenitor, and thus, the Canada thistle might be considered an early origin-point of an American exceptionalist identity.

Allan G. Bogue: An Obituary PAMELA RINEY-KEHRBERG

Book Reviews

North America

Dunn, A Tale of Two Plantations: Slave Life and Labor in Jamaica and Virginia, by Rebecca Anne Goetz

Berlin, The Long Emancipation: The Demise of Slavery in the United States, by luke E. Harlow

Lansing, Insurgent Democracy: The Nonpartisan League in North American Politics, by Gregory L. Schneider

Martin, Smokestacks in the Hills: Rural-Industrial Workers in West Virginia, by Barry Whittemore


Caradonna, Sustainability: A History, by James W. Feldman

Nierstrasz, Rivalry for Trade in Tea and Textiles: The English and Dutch East India Companies (1700–1800), by Santhi Hejeebu


Gerhard, Nazi Hunger Politics: A History of Food in the Third Reich, by Sandra Chaney

Wilkin et al., eds., Town and Country in Medieval North Western Europe: Dynamic Interactions, by Abigail Dowling

Banham and Faith, Anglo-Saxon Farms and Farming, by Sue Harrington

Kowaleski et al., eds., Peasants and Lords in the Medieval English Economy: Essays in Honour of Bruce M. S. Campbell, by Tom Johnson

De moor, The Dilemma of the Commoners: Understanding the Use of Common Pool Resources in Long-Term Perspective, by Patrick Bresnihan

Thoen and Soens, eds., Struggling with the Environment: Land Use and Productivity, by Stephen Rippon


Mishra, Beastly Encounters of the Raj: Livelihoods, Livestock and Veterinary Health in North India, 1790–1920,by Prakash Kumar

Bosma and Webster, eds., Commodities, Ports, and Asian Maritime Trade Since 1750, by Lauren Minsky