Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. Karen Rader


The purpose of this thesis is to examine through the lenses of an environmental historian the myths and the realities of soil exhaustion as this ecological process relates to the developing environmental ethics of tobacco farmers of Prince Edward County, Virginia, from 1850 to 1880. During the nineteenth century the tobacco farms of Southside Virginia experienced three phases in a century long process of ecological change that both influenced and were influenced by events that occurred in human history. The first phase coincides with the agricultural reform movements led by the planters of the late antebellum period. The second phase spans the Civil War years. The third phase begins with emancipation and Reconstruction and lasts until the end of the century when the cause of scientific agriculture was taken up by the agricultural reformers of the Progressive era. With each phase of ecological transition in conjunction with the transition from slave labor to wage labor, the relationship of white men and women and African American men and women to the rural landscape changed, thus creating a diverse, dynamic environmental ethic among the tobacco farmers of Prince Edward County, Virginia.


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Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

June 2008

Included in

History Commons