A History of Georgia Agriculture, 1732–1860
Published in 1964, A History of Georgia Agriculture describes the early land and labor systems in the state. Agriculture came to Georgia with the first settlers and was largely directed toward the economic self-sufficiency of the British Empire. James C. Bonner's portrayal of the colonial cattle industry is prescient of the later open-range West. He also clearly shows how shortages of horses and implements, poor plowing techniques, and a lack of skill in tool mechanics spawned the cotton-slaves-mules trilogy of antebellum agriculture, which in turn led to land exhaustion and eventual emigration.By the 1850s the general southern desire for economic independence promoted diversification and such scientific farming techniques as crop rotation, contour plowing, and fertilization. Planting of pasture forage to improve livestock and hold soil was advocated and the teaching of agriculture in public schools was promoted. Contemporary descriptions of individual farms and plantations are interspersed to give a picture of day to day farming. Bonner presents a picture of the average Southern farmer of 1850 which is neither that of a landless hireling nor of the traditional planter, but of a practical man trying to make a living.