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Freedom's GardenerJames F. Brown, Horticulture, and the Hudson Valley in Antebellum America$
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Myra B. Young Armstead

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780814705100

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814705100.001.0001

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Cultural Meanings of Gardening

Cultural Meanings of Gardening

(p.70) 5 Cultural Meanings of Gardening
Freedom's Gardener

Myra B. Young Armstead

NYU Press

In early and antebellum America, gardening was more than an application of science to fruit, vegetable, and flower cultivation. It was a way to affirm male hegemony, one's social class, civic virtue, commitment to a dominant American political economy, and one's respectability. Among the nation's black population, the forms that gardening sometimes took often reflected African farming and aesthetic norms. This chapter examines where James F. Brown stood in relation to these possibilities. It argues that as a gardener-employee Brown promoted the goals of leading horticulturalists; according to contemporary conceptions, his work by definition assisted in improving the moral climate, and his displays helped make the “gradual improvement in our [American] markets clearly manifest,” as a New York agricultural periodical explained garden shows. Gardening also provided a structure for Brown to prove his self-moderation and steadiness of character.

Keywords:   James F. Brown, gardening, blacks, African farming, horticulture, antebellum America, male hegemony

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