Chapter Outline

I. Subsistence Versus Market Farming

Discussion Questions

1. What is the ideal of the American farmer as set out by Thomas Jefferson and J. Hector St. John de Crèvecoeur? How do they contrast the European and the American? What is the social and political significance of the subsistence farmer in America? Was the farming occupation accessible to everyone?

2. To what extent does Crèvecoeur believe "the American character" has been formed by the American environment? What did it mean to be an American in the eighteenth century? What criticisms might be made of Crèvecoeur's environmental determinism? What, if any, personality traits can be said to characterize Americans today?

3. Compare the farming practices of New Englanders as described by the author of American Husbandry (1775) with those of the Pennsylvania Germans depicted by Benjamin Rush (1789). Which practices by New England farmers criticized by the American Husbandry author might be associated with subsistence farming? Which Pennsylvania practices praised by Rush might be evidence of market-oriented farms? In what ways do these practices reflect or fall short of Jefferson's and Crèvcoeur's agrarian ideal?

4. What were the transportation and market revolutions and how are they exemplified in the documents by John James Audubon and Calvin Colton?

5. Drawing on the essays by William Cronon, Carolyn Merchant, and John Boles, compare American Indian, African-American, and European-American subsistence. What contributions to the American diet were made by each of these racial groups?

6. Compare and contrast the arguments of William Cronon and Carolyn Merchant on market versus subsistence farming. What assumptions underlie each of these two different interpretations?

7. What differences in gender roles are revealed in the documents and essays? Were the sexes equal or unequal? In what ways?