From British Peasants to Colonial American Farmers

By Allan Kulikoff

504 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 4 maps, notes, bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-0-8078-4882-1
    Published: November 2000
  • eBook ISBN: 978-0-8078-6078-6
    Published: February 2014

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Awards & distinctions

A 2001 Choice Outstanding Academic Title

With this book, Allan Kulikoff offers a sweeping new interpretation of the origins and development of the small farm economy in Britain's mainland American colonies. Examining the lives of farmers and their families, he tells the story of immigration to the colonies, traces patterns of settlement, analyzes the growth of markets, and assesses the impact of the Revolution on small farm society.

Beginning with the dispossession of the peasantry in early modern England, Kulikoff follows the immigrants across the Atlantic to explore how they reacted to a hostile new environment and its Indian inhabitants. He discusses how colonists secured land, built farms, and bequeathed those farms to their children. Emphasizing commodity markets in early America, Kulikoff shows that without British demand for the colonists' crops, settlement could not have begun at all. Most important, he explores the destruction caused during the American Revolution, showing how the war thrust farmers into subsistence production and how they only gradually regained their prewar prosperity.

About the Author

Allan Kulikoff is professor of history at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb. His previous books include Tobacco and Slaves: The Development of Southern Cultures in the Chesapeake, 1680-1800.

For more information about Allan Kulikoff, visit the Author Page.


"As a master narrative, From British Peasants to Colonial American Farmers succeeds in elegantly synthesizing a massive body of literature, probing the relationships between economy, demography, and society, and in vigorously shaping and inspiring debate on the formation of American society for years to come."--Left History

"A significant contribution. . . . Kulikoff's book provides solid evidence to suggest that 'independent' American farmers owed as much to the cultural legacy of peasant life as to increased access to land."--Journal of Southern History

"Kulikoff's study will please readers with its erudite survey of important scholarship, but it may also provoke continuing arguments. Both are commendable accomplishments."--Journal of American History

"The first volume of Kulikoff's larger project, a history of American farmers to 1900, this book offers a smart synthesis of the remarkable amount of scholarly literature on seventeenth- and eighteenth-century rural society that has come into print in the past two decades. . . . We can only anticipate -- and knowing Kulikoff, be confident -- that it will have the scope and authority of this impressive present volume."--Georgia Historical Quarterly

"Kulikoff has undertaken a project of enormous value to historical inquiry, a multi-volume study of the development of farmers through the end of the nineteenth century."--American Studies

"Kulikoff's integration of materials from women's history into a general synthesis of economic life in colonial America is among the best yet written. . . . [His] description of the effect of the Revolutionary War on rural America is better done than any previous account. . . . [This is a] 'master narrative' of early America."--American Historical Review