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June 17 Lecture on Roots of Democracy in Early American Farming

  CAMPTON HILLS, IL: On Saturday June 17th at 1 pm, the program Early American Farming  will be presented by Judith Broggi, MA Harvard University. Broggis wrote her thesis on this subject and the link between agriculture and patriotism.  An Illinois native who recently moved back after 30 years on the east coast, Broggi has lately begun concentrating on the history of Illinois, and how this great state was influenced by early American farmers.

       As America will be 250 years old in just 9 more years, the distance of time and change has disconnected the modern generation from the roots of its democratic freedoms. Yet less than  60 years ago every school child knew the phrase the “shot heard round the world” which immortalized the first battle of the American Revolution at Concord, MA. Their parents, the Greatest Generation, were school children in the 1910s and 20s learned all the words of  Ralph Waldo Emerson’s first stanza to the Concord Hymn:

By the rude bridge that arched the flood
Their flag to April’s breeze unfurled
Here once the embattled farmers stood
And fired the shot heard round the world.

       Almost 1/3 of the Greatest Generation's parents still lived and worked on farms so the imagery of farmers dropping the plow handles to pick up a long rifle launching the war of independence struck a chord of pride, directly connecting them to the their forefathers’ sacrifices.

        However the popular “man in the street” interviews by comedy night shows clearly demonstrate the last 100 years of incredible change in America has left many completely ignorant and ill prepared to maintain principles so hard fought for in 1775.

          In 1774, Samuel Adams proclaimed, “[It is] the Yeomanry whose Virtue must finally save this country!”  The “Yeomanry” to which he refers were respectable members of the community; farmers who demonstrated the resolve of citizens willing to seek and defend the ideals of liberty and self-determination, which was instrumental in the formation of the American identity.

     Democracy was the result of the desire to own one’s own land that first lured the colonists to America. Just as the king could give land grants, the royalty could always take that land away and so 3rd and 4th generation colonists sought self determination to protect their private property. They revolted against England and established a democratic republic that was populated by farming families.

      Even if one did not grow up in farm country, the image of the red barn, green pasture, farmhouse, animals, fields, and gardens is indelibly etched in the dearest (perhaps romanticized) image of America.  This program will discuss how this image was created, and explore why it has outlived the reality in this country.

     There is a $6 donation for the talk and reservations are required. Call the museum at (630) 584-8485, or email at Garfield Farm Museum is located 5 miles west of Geneva, IL off ILL Rt. 38 on Garfield Road. The 374-acre site is a historically intact former 1840s farm and teamster inn being restored as an 1840s working farm museum by volunteers and donors from around the country.