Omohundro Institute of Early American History & Culture

Leading Early American Scholarship Since 1943


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An Anxious Pursuit

Agricultural Innovation and Modernity in the Lower South, 1730–1815

Joyce Chaplin

Cloth ISBN 9780807820841

Paper ISBN 9780807846131

Copyright 1993 by the University of North Carolina Press

A Prize-Winning Book

  Willie Lee Rose Prize, Southern Association for Women Historians (1995)

Visit the University of North Carolina Press web page for this book.

Joyce Chaplin’s bold and original study of culture and agriculture in the Lower South adds immeasurably to the literature on this still-neglected region. The author’s range is truly impressive: she is as comfortable with cotton gins as she is with moral philosophy. . . . A first-rate piece of scholarship.

--Peter A. Coclanis

In this far-reaching study, Joyce Chaplin combines agricultural and cultural history in a sophisticated examination of the eighteenth-century Lower South. She skillfully plays out the ironies of this peculiar society, which used modern means to advance and protect an archaic social organization.

--Richard and Claudia Bushman

An impressive first book. . . . A subtle, complex analysis of a transition in the Lower South . . . that should command wide attention from American historians.

--Thad W. Tate

Joyce Chaplin's fascinating study of agricultural innovation in the Lower South and its relationship to modernity is a hallmark of its kind.

--Journal of Economic History

No serious student of early America can afford to overlook this book.

--North Carolina Historical Review

An important contribution to southern and Revolutionary era historiography.


A major work of scholarship. Chaplin displays equally remarkable command over the grubbiest agricultural details and the loftiest philosophical ideas. . . . The work will surely influence studies of the colonial South for years to come.

--William and Mary Quarterly

Anyone interested in the Lower South before 1815 should begin with this sweeping and beautifully written book, excellent for an advanced undergraduate or graduate course in colonial and early national history.

--Journal of Social History

Focusing on agrarian reform, [Chaplin] seeks to combine social and intellectual history, skillfully tying early modern social thought to evidence from the fields and irrigation works.

--American Historical Review

Gracefully written, thoughtfully argued, and dazzlingly ambitious in its scope, Chaplin's study will take a prominent place among those too few books that enlarge our understanding of the lower South in the colonial and early national periods.

--Winterthur Portfolio

A stunning synthesis of intellectual, social, and economic history.

--Journal of the Early Republic