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Christopher Clarks The Roots of Rural Capitalism focuses on the Connecticut River Valley in Western Massachusetts between the American Revolution and the Civil War Clarks study of the economy of the Connecticut River Valley traces the move from an economy based on household subsistence to one of wage labor and commercial industry Clark argues that the society did not change because of any particular underlying reason but because of changes in the Valley He notes that many of cause were related to land shortage the makeup of the people and the household and the growth of an economy According to Clark between the 1780s and 1820s farmers and workers produced agriculture which varied to meet the needs of their household In the beginning the society was mainly built on self-sufficiency which that farmers traded what they had left to market only after they took care of the needs of their family Essentially there was not a great variance in the distribution of wealth and power The economy at that time was weak because of lack of a cash crop Until the Revolutionary War wheat served as the cash crop but then suffered as prices fell As time went on the economy tightened and families had to take up other means of production such as raising other crops such as corn and participating in home manufacturing Clark in his book shows that rural capitalism did not really take form until after the 1830s He asserts that the household determined the growth of capitalism Clark throws out the notion that long distance trade cash exchange and profits resulted in the growth of capitalism in the Valley He sees the expansion of capitalism based on how farmers entered and used the local market In the 18th century according to Clark many families faced debt problems land shortages and insecurity based in their position in life In addition the pressure of family and finances led many
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