The original strength of our American republic was found in the ability to supply our own needs.
That is the very definition of independence. We provided our own form of government, our own energy resources, our own manufacturing, and we grew an overabundance of our own food. We were a self-sufficient nation.
This condition of national independence was the natural outgrowth of America’s many independent farming communities. The vast majority of early Americans lived on small farms and homesteads, providing their own food, shelter, clothing, and most other necessities from their own land. Today, however, less than 2% of our population is involved in the work of agriculture, and that agriculture has greatly changed. Now it’s called agribusiness and it is dependent on enormous, unsustainable imports of foreign oil. Subsistence farms have become rare as hen’s teeth.
Thomas Jefferson, primary author of the Declaration of Independence, believed that a citizenry which worked the land, drawing sustenance directly from the earth, was the surest support of our free and independent nation; that such agrarianism engendered a healthy civic virtue. After all, self-reliant people don’t need or want government handouts, and they are not easily manipulated by scheming politicians.
In his book, Notes on Virginia, Jefferson made a remarkably prescient statement:
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