Why did the Jeffersonian world view (that of the yeoman farmer as the bedrock of American democracy and the American economy) disappear by the mid-nineteenth century?
Jefferson's worldview did not weather the industrial revolution and rapidly changing United States. The idea of a farming republic could not survive a rapidly growing international economy. While agriculture was important to the young country, dynamic trading networks and growing metropolitan centers quickly dominated. Most students of United States history are aware of the movement of populations from rural landscapes to increasingly densely populated urban centers. As such, power flowed to cities with populations.
But it was not simply that industry pushed out farming—rather, values changed. Value and pride no longer resided on the plantation, and urban denizens were seen as valuable, trendy, and powerful. European fashion flourished, as did foodways and language patterns. So, as social capital moved to cities, the power dynamics of this country changed, reducing the influence of farming. It became untenable for farmers to be powerful, because the urban class was on the rise....
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