Edmund Ruffin and the Crisis of Slavery in the Old South: The Failure of Agricultural Reform

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In 1818, Edmund Ruffin, then a young Virginia planter, began conducting chemical and rotational experiments on his Coggin's Point plantation on the James River. His findings became the basis for the most progressive and sophisticated reform proposals to be formulated in the slaveholding South. Tracing Ruffin's passionate advocacy of both agricultural reform and slavery, William M. Mathew pinpoints in this book many of the contradictions that underlay the economic and social structures of the antebellum South.