Andrea Wulf: Digging the Founding Gardeners
Andrea Wulf's book "Founding Gardeners — The Revolutionary Generation, Nature and the Shaping of the American Nation" is published by Knopf.
As America's gardeners dig, plant, weed and grow lettuce, beans and tomatoes in their vegetable plots this summer, they are part of a tradition that harks back to the beginnings of the United States. Just by working on a compost pile this weekend, you'll be in good historical company.
The first four presidents of the United States — George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison — were all utterly obsessed with manure and recipes for compost. Adams even jumped into a stinking pile when he was America's first "minister plenipotentiary" to Britain in London in 1786. Teasing apart the straw from the dung (clearly not minding the muck on his hands), he declared with glee that it was "not equal to mine."
Washington, Adams, Jefferson and Madison regarded themselves first as gardeners and farmers, not politicians. They wove their passion for gardens and nature into the fabric of America; it was aligned with their political thought. Agriculture would be the foundation of the new republic, they believed.
"Cultivators of the earth," Jefferson wrote, "are the most vigorous, the most independent, the most virtuous." The greater the proportion of husbandmen, Madison believed, "the more free, the more independent and the more happy must be the society itself."...
comments powered by Disqus
- Memorial for black Revolutionary War soldiers finds spot on Mall after 30 years
- Sherlock Holmes star to feature in a new movie about Alan Turning
- Man’s Genome From 45,000 Years Ago Is Reconstructed
- This company claims its video games about the French Revolution are accurate
- Origins of sex discovered
- Thousands of Historic Archives from British Asylums to Go Online
- American Studies Association boycott of Israel: Conservatives say it’s weakening
- YIVO Vilna Project Will Digitize Jewish History
- Columbia historian Eric Foner is giving his lectures to the public -- and to posterity — through a free MOOC.
- Black studies professor in the middle of exploding scandal at the University of North Carolina