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Quotations On Agriculture

c. 1781. (Notes on the State of Virginia) "Those who labour in the earth are the chosen people of God, if ever he had a chosen people, whose breasts he has made his peculiar deposit for substantial and genuine virtue. It is the focus in which he keeps alive that sacred fire, which otherwise might escape from the face of the earth." [1]

c. 1781.(Notes on the State of Virginia) "Cultivators of the earth are the most virtuous and independent citizens."[2]

1785 Aug. 23. (to John Jay) "Cultivators of the earth are the most valuable citizens. They are the most vigorous, the most independant, the most virtuous, and they are tied to their country and wedded to it's liberty and interests by the most lasting bands." [3]

1785 Oct. 28. (to James Madison) "It is not too soon to provide by every possible means that as few as possible shall be without a little portion of land. The small landholders are the most precious part of a state."[4]

1787 Dec. 20. (to James Madison) "I think our governments will remain virtuous for many centuries; as long as they are chiefly agricultural." [5]

1793 June 28. (to George Washington) "Good husbandry with us consists in abandoning Indian corn and tobacco, tending small grain, some red clover following, and endeavoring to have, while the lands are at rest, a spontaneous cover of white clover. I do not present this as a culture judicious in itself, but as good in comparison with what most people there pursue.[6]

1795 Apr. 29. (to J. N. Démeunier) "It [agriculture] is at the same time the most tranquil, healthy, and independent [occupation]."[7]

1795 Sept. 8. (to Madame de Tessé) "I am become the most industrious and ardent farmer of the canton..."[8]

1803 Nov. 14. (to David Williams) "The class principally defective is that of agriculture. It is the first in utility, and ought to be the first in respect. The same artificial means which have been used to produce a competition in learning, may be equally successful in restoring agriculture to its primary dignity in the eyes of men. It is a science of the very first order. It counts among it handmaids of the most respectable sciences, such as Chemistry, Natural Philosophy, Mechanics, Mathematics generally, Natural History, Botany. In every College and University, a professorship of agriculture, and the class of its students, might be honored as the first. Young men closing their academical education with this, as the crown of all other sciences, fascinated with its solid charms, and at a time when they are to choose an occupation, instead of crowding the other classes, would return to the farms of their fathers, their own, or those of others, and replenish and invigorate a calling, now languishing under contempt and oppression. The charitable schools, instead of storing their pupils with a lore which the present state of society does not call for, converted into schools of agriculture, might restore them to that branch qualified to enrich and honor themselves, and to increase the productions of the nation instead of consuming them."[9]

1810 June 27. (to Joseph Dougherty) "I think it the duty of farmers who are wealthier than others to give those less so the benefit of any improvements they can introduce, gratis." [10]

1817 May 10. (to William Johnson) "The pamphlet you were so kind as to send me manifests a zeal, which cannot be too much praised, for the interests of agriculture, the employment of our first parents in Eden, the happiest we can follow, and the most important to our country."[11]

1821 July 30. (to Thomas Mann Randolph) "With respect to the boys I never till lately doubted but that I should be able to give them a competence as comfortable farmers, and no station is more honorable or happy than that."[12]


  1. Peterson, Writings, 290.
  2. Ibid, 301.
  3. PTJ, 8:426.
  4. Ibid, 8: 682.
  5. Ibid, 12:442.
  6. Betts, Garden Book, 191.
  7. Peterson, Writings, 1028.
  8. Library of Congress:
  9. L&B, 10:429-30.
  10. Betts, Farm Book, 134.
  11. Betts, Garden Book, 572.
  12. Library of Congress:

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It feels good to be in the company of such an incredible man. I knew I was on to something when I wanted to become a gardener.

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