download cover image ►

Nature's Management

Writings on Landscape and Reform, 1822-1859

Title Details

Pages: 408

Illustrations: 1 b&w photo

Trim size: 6.000in x 9.000in



Pub Date: 03/01/2006

ISBN: 9-780-8203-2837-9

List Price: $34.95

Nature's Management

Writings on Landscape and Reform, 1822-1859

Skip to

  • Description
  • Reviews

History remembers Edmund Ruffin, the Virginia native believed to have fired the first shot against Fort Sumter in 1861, as one of the South's most aggressive "fire-eaters." This volume of Ruffin's work offers us his less known but equally intense passion for agricultural study. In carefully edited selections from Ruffin's writings, Jack Temple Kirby presents an innovative, progressive agronomist and pioneering conservationist. Arranged in sections discussing southern agricultural history, Ruffin's observations of nature, his ideas about land reform, and his plans for soil rejuvenation, Nature’s Management shows that Ruffin was a thinker far ahead of his time, recognizing our need to improve agriculture and to protect nature.

Known as the "father of soil science" in the United States, Edmund Ruffin discovered and solved the problem of soil acidity while still in his twenties and published several papers on the subject. As the publication of his writing increased, Ruffin left his own farming business to pursue his studies. This volume contains a collection of Ruffin's essays on a variety of interrelated subjects. From the promotion of fencing and methods of malaria prevention to advocacy of a public works program and the recycling of waste, Ruffin's ideas paved the way for the early conservation movement associated with Theodore Roosevelt, Gifford Pinchot, and others. Nature's Management presents Ruffin's activism and innovative genius at its best, replacing the image of a southern firebrand with that of an outspoken reformer deserving of recognition.

The value of Nature's Management rests in the fact that it is a primary source on the subject of slavery and the environment in the American South. Those seeking a better understanding of the topic should obtain a copy of the book.


A comprehensive and thoughtful compilation of [Ruffin's] agricultural and environmental writing . . . Kirby's collection shows Ruffin to have been a challenging, sophisticated thinker on matters pertaining to land health.

Georgia Historical Quarterly

A valuable contribution to the history of Ruffin, the American landscape, and the environment.

Journal of Southern History

Kirby's literate introduction provides insights into how Ruffin's experiences and wide reading affected his ideas, and provides a critical overview of published writings by and about Ruffin. . . . [Ruffin] showed keen powers of observation and scientific curiosity. . . . Kirby, a specialist in southern rural society, provides helpful notes.


About the Author/Editor

Edmund Ruffin (Author)
EDMUND RUFFIN (1794–1865), a Virginia planter and slaveholder, is widely regarded as the "father of soil science" in the United States.

Jack Temple Kirby (Editor)
JACK TEMPLE KIRBY was the emeritus W. E. Smith Professor of American History at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. His most recent books include Working the Garden: American Writers and the Industrialization of Agriculture and The Countercultural South (Georgia).