Farm, Shop, Landing

The Rise of a Market Society in the Hudson Valley, 1780–1860

Farm, Shop, Landing

Book Pages: 320 Illustrations: 7 b&w photos, 23 tables, 3 maps Published: April 2002

Author: Martin Bruegel

Economics, History > U.S. History

At the turn of the nineteenth century, when the word “capital” first found its way into the vocabulary of mid-Hudson Valley residents, the term irrevocably marked the profound change that had transformed the region from an inward-looking, rural community into a participant in an emerging market economy. In Farm, Shop, Landing Martin Bruegel turns his attention to the daily lives of merchants, artisans, and farmers who lived and worked along the Hudson River in the decades following the American Revolution to explain how the seeds of capitalism were spread on rural U.S. soil.
Combining theoretical rigor with extensive archival research, Bruegel’s account diverges from other historiographies of nineteenth-century economic development. It challenges the assumption that the coexistence of long-distance trade, private property, and entrepreneurial activity lead to one inescapable outcome: a market economy either wholeheartedly embraced or entirely rejected by its members. When Bruegel tells the story of farmer William Coventry struggling in the face of bad harvests, widow Mary Livingston battling her tenants, blacksmith Samuel Fowks perfecting the cast-iron plough, and Hannah Bushnell sending her butter to market, Bruegel shows that the social conventions of a particular community, and the real struggles and hopes of individuals, actively mold the evolving economic order. Ultimately, then, Farm, Shop, Landing suggests that the process of modernization must be understood as the result of the simultaneous and often contentious interplay of social and economic spheres.


"[A] richly nuanced reconstruction of farmers, artisans, and merchants positioning themselves in the emerging market society of Greene and Columbia Counties. . . . [I]nteresting and innovative. . . . A brief review only hints at the many strengths of this book. . . . Bruegel has a lovely way of blending telling anecdotes with analysis of aggregate data. In his astute hands, the most unlikely sources, such as a farm wife’s description of whitewashing a room, yield insights into important patterns like consumption. . . . Conceptualization, insights, and clear organization of material strongly recommend Farm, Shop, Landing. . . . [C]lear, graceful writing. . . . Bruegel has laid a veritable feast for his reader-guests. . . ." — Kathleen Smith Kutolowski , New York History

"[A]dd[s] significantly to our understanding of northern small farmers in the early republic." — Cathy Matson , Journal of the Early Republic

"Brings fresh insight into what has become an old, if not tired, debate in American historiography. . . . " — Béatrice Craig, Social History

"[Bruegel] should be praised for going where many others have feared to tread. Bruegel's extensive bibliography of secondary sources, a triumph of compilation in its own right, underscores his familiarity with relevant scholarly literature….Farm, Shop, Landing adds to our understanding of a group of individuals little studied. Students of New York history as well as those interested in rural life in the United States during the first half of the nineteenth century will welcome the publication. . . . The author's attempt to weave the commonplace and the epic is a noble one." — Kathleen Eagen Johnson, Winterthur Portfolio

"Richly researched and tightly written book. . . . Bruegel's research is deep, and his analysis and writing rich. . . . [A]n important contribution to New York's rural history." — Thomas S. Wermuth, Hudson River Valley Review

"[V]aluable. . . . [Bruegel] demonstrates a theoretical sophistication and an eye for the telling details that give a familiar story fresh nuance and texture as well as a scope and sweep that transcend the local. . . . Bruegel has done a masterful job researching his subject, and it is a pleasure to review a book as well grounded in archival research. . . . Farm, Shop, Landing is highly recommended for all scholars interested in American rural history and the social dimensions of economic change." — Hal S. Barron , Journal of Economic History

"An outstanding environmental history. . . . A deeply researched, tightly argued, and nicely written study. The book is both an important scholarly monograph and a fine paperback addition to reading lists for advanced undergraduate and graduate-level history courses." — James A. Henretta , American Historical Review

"Bruegel adds notably to our understanding of how and why a new way of life came about in the two generations following the American Revolution. His account deserves attention from all historians interested in understanding how, in concrete terms, social change came about and was experienced." — Christopher Clark , Journal of Social History

"Bruegel successfully blends economic, social and political history to present the picture of a region in transition. . . . Bruegel's study is a welcome addition that will allow scholars to better understand all of the complexities of the market revolution in the early United States." — Kim M. Gruenwald , Reviews in American History

"In Farm, Shop, Landing, a sprightly book about the mid Hudson River Valley counties of Columbia and Greene, Martin Bruegel has boldly entered into the long-running debate over economic development and the so-called ‘market revolution’ of post-Revolutionary America. . . . [A] wealth of detail. . . . [C]ompelling. . . . Farm, Shop, Landing does raise significant questions about the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. . . ." — Allan Kulikoff , Common-Place

"This deeply researched account of the market revolution in the mid-Hudson River Valley adds nuance and concreteness to a historiography that has been at times overly stark and abstract." — Carol Sheriff, Journal of Interdisciplinary History

"This excellent book should be read by all scholars of the pre-Civil War era." — Jeffrey P. Brown , History: Reviews of New Books

“This is an extremely well-researched and sophisticated contribution to American rural history. Bruegel has written a detailed local study on the development of the Hudson River Valley, which has important methodological and interpretive implications for many other regions and fields.” — Peter Coclanis, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

“This is an outstanding work. In an era where so many historians are focusing on smaller and smaller subjects, it is a pleasure to read a book that directly tackles the big picture. Indeed, it is something close to a histoire totale. It not only addresses a topic of extraordinary importance but does so with theoretical sophistication and remarkable research.” — Richard Stott, George Washington University


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Price: $27.95

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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Martin Bruegel is Chargé de recherche at the Laboratoire de recherche sur la Consommation in the Département d’Economie et Sociologie at the Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique at Ivry sur Seine, France.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Illustrations, Tables, Figures, and Maps ix

Acknowledgments xi

Introduction: Everyday Life and the Making of Rural Development in the Hudson Valley 1

1. Exchange and the Creation of the Neighborhood in the Late Eighteenth Century 13

2. To Market, to Mill, to the Woods 41

3. Natural Resources and Economic Development 64

4. Farms Woven into the Landscape: Agricultural Developments, 1810-1850s 90

5. Country Shops and Factory Creeks, 1807-1850s 126

6. "Things, Not Thought": Wealth, Income, and Patterns of Consumption, 1800-1850s 159

7. The Culture of Public Life 187

Conclusion: Labor, the Manor, and the Market 216

Notes 227

Bibliography 275

Index 299
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

Rights and licensing

Winner, 2002 Theodore Saloutos Memorial Book Award, Agricultural History Society

Winner, Society for Historians for the Early Republic Best First Book Prize

Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-2849-0 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-2835-3
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