In a departure from the longstanding emphasis on the frontier in American historical writing, Hal Barron employs a range of sources to reconstruct the social and economic history of a nineteenth-century rural community - Chelsea, Vermont -which was profoundly affected by population loss and economic stagnation at a time when most of the country was experiencing geographical expansion and economic growth. The author's lucid, accessible account explores the hard choices faced by the people of Chelsea as the economic vitality drained out of their community and shows how they dealt with these choices. Using new methods of social history to place Chelsea in the larger context of nineteenth-century American culture and society, this book provides an innovative contribution to the history of rural America.
List of tables and illustrations; Preface; 1. After the frontier: theory, historiography, and the social history of settled rural America; 2. The storm before the calm: growth and conflict in a developing rural community; 3. The different meanings of rural decline in nineteenth-century America; 4. Quitting the farm and closing the shop: the economy of a settled rural community; 5. The ties that bind: migration and persistence in a settled rural community; 6. Their town: the emergence of consensus and homogeneity in a settled rural community; Conclusion; Notes; Bibliography; Index.