An excerpt from page 123:
In 1800 the functions of towns were much the same as in 1700, as was the orientation of the economy. During the preindustrial era in this rural society, most towns acted as central places for exchanging farm commodities for those of other counties. Yet urbanites contributed their skills to the economic, political, and social organization of the region.
This is the first time my 123 excerpt has been begun at the beginning of a paragraph that was exactly 3 sentences long.
This book has too many problems for me to be enthusiastic about it. Most obviously, Lemon's dismissal of ethnic differences among Pennsylvania's colonists is problematic. I'm willing to concede Lemon's main point, which is that colonists made their own decisions about settlement and agriculture rather than conforming to William Penn's plans (as well as his secondary point about the farmers' market orientation). Still, I think that his celebration of individualism was just as unhelpful as the peasant model he seeks to overturn. At several points, he is forced to acknowledge that it seems strange to speak of pervasive individualism in a region best known for its communitarian groups, but he never offers a satisfactory explanation for how those impulses were complementary/conflicting/compatible.
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