Grassroots Leviathan: Agricultural Reform and the Rural North in the Slaveholding Republic


Ariel RonFollow

Publication Date



How a massive agricultural reform movement led by northern farmers before the Civil War recast Americans' relationships to market forces and the state.

Winner of the Theodore Saloutos Memorial Award by the Agricultural History Society, Winner of the Wiley-Silver Book Prize by the Center for Civil War Research

In this sweeping look at rural society from the American Revolution to the Civil War, Ariel Ron argues that agricultural history is central to understanding the nation's formative period. Upending the myth that the Civil War pitted an industrial North against an agrarian South, Grassroots Leviathan traces the rise of a powerful agricultural reform movement spurred by northern farmers. Ron shows that farming dominated the lives of most Americans through almost the entire nineteenth century and traces how middle-class farmers in the "Greater Northeast" built a movement of semipublic agricultural societies, fairs, and periodicals that fundamentally recast Americans' relationship to market forces and the state.

Document Type



US history, Civil War history, agricultural history, economic history, political history, political economy, antebellum history, history of economics


Political History | United States History