Puritan New England

Earth, Wind and Fire

The New England Landscape

  Glacial landscape

­ Thin soils except along rivers and streams

­ Sand and rocks

­ Forests still evolving

­ Many marshes & ponds

­ Very cold winters

­ Rich fisheries

­ Salmon, shad, etc.

Puritan Communities

   Community above self

   Land granted to groups as townships, not individuals

   Each got some land

­ Each got parcels of different sorts of land

   Democratic communal regulation of land use

­ Preserve resources for future generations

­ “Improvement” (Gen. 2:15; Christ’s parable of the talents)


  Meadow for hay

  Cattle for manure

  Manure for fields


  Fences essential



The Puritan township

Challenges to community

  Declining Congregational authority, increasing individualism

  Outlying farms as population increases

  Opening of new lands in the West draw young men

  Arrival of the railroad makes farming unprofitable

­ Truck farming near cities

­ Clearing of forests for dairy farming

Agricultural “Improvement”

  Rev. Jared Eliot, Essays upon Field Husbandry, 1748-1763

  Agricultural journals grow popular, many by New Englanders

  1862: Secession allows creation of Department of Agriculture, the Morrill Act for land-grant colleges, and the Homestead Act

  Hatch Act of 1887 establishes agricultural experiment stations

  Search for new hybrids and varieties

  Search for pesticides and fertilizers