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The Farmer's Benevolent Trust: Law and Agricultural Cooperation in Industrial America, 1865-1945 (Studies in Legal History) Hardcover – September 28, 1998

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Editorial Reviews


Unsettles even the most sophisticated reader s sentimental notions about traditional nineteenth-century farm cooperatives."Journal of American History" --This text refers to the Paperback edition.


[A] concise, intelligent study. . . . Unsettles even the most sophisticated reader's sentimental notions about traditional nineteenth-century farm cooperatives. . . . An important contribution to understanding the transformations of agriculture in the twentieth century, through an articulate, detailed, multidisciplinary analysis of legal and social history.--Journal of American History

|An important contribution to economic and business history and one whose main and specific arguments will be debated at length. . . . The study is a valuable contribution to establishing agriculture as a realistic participant in a modernising economy.--Business History

|Woeste deftly shifts back and forth between the tale of the legal transformation of agricultural cooperation at the macro-level and, at the micro-level, the story of California Associated Raisin Company, which--despite its tacit encouragement of night-riding mobs and emulation of J. P. Morgan--moved mountains to cultivate the image of itself as the prototypical 'benevolent trust' with which 'Jesus would sign up.' Beautifully written and exhaustively researched, The Farmer's Benevolent Trust deserves the attention of legal, economic, political, and cultural historians.--Laura Kalman, University of California, Santa Barbara

|Woeste skillfully weaves legal, business, and agricultural history. . . . A well researched, well-argued book. . . . An excellent contribution to the study of the transformation of American agriculture during the first part of the twentieth century.--American Historical Review

|An important contribution to economic and business history and one whose main and specific arguments will be debated at length. . . . A valuable contribution to establishing agriculture as a realistic participant in a modernising economy.--Business History

|This fascinating book offers insights that are vital to understanding American agricultural history and more especially its politics. . . . Woeste writes an incisive, well-told, thoroughly researched, legally important history in a story-like fashion.--Choice

|Woeste's richly nuanced and tightly argued ten chapters deliver a new understanding of the cooperative movement and horticulture in California. Moreover, by shunning simplistic assumptions she exposes flaws in much theory-based history of agriculture's place in the national market revolution.--Agricultural History

|To chronicle this complex history, a scholar must be sophisticated in economics, law, and agricultural politics. Fortunately, Woeste brings a very good level of understanding of these diverse but essential topics to her history. . . . A comprehensive, historical case study of the complex problems--legal, economic, and social--that confronted and still confront American commercial agriculture.--Law and History Review


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Product Details

  • Series: Studies in Legal History
  • Hardcover: 392 pages
  • Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press; 1 edition (September 28, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807824216
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807824214
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.5 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #10,101,471 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Victoria Saker Woeste (Vicky) is research professor at the American Bar Foundation in Chicago. She is the author of The Farmer's Benevolent Trust: Law and Agriculture in Industrial America, 1865-1945 (University of North Carolina Press, 1998) and Henry Ford's War: Law, Antisemitism, and Speech in the Tribal 1920s (Stanford University Press, 2012). After more than 20 years in academia, Vicky has come to the conclusion that writing a book is the most fun thing in the world to do, especially when it's finished.

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Format: Paperback
Are cooperatives for farmers like labor unions? Are they like corporate monopolies? Are they another sort of entity? These questions were directly relevant for the raisin growers of California in the early 1900's and for the federal government. Saker Woeste provides detailed analysis of legislation and federal court decisions about the thorny status of the cooperatives--a debate in which the involved parties were creating their own precedents.
Saker Woeste's book has a liveliness beyond what the legal topic might lead us to think. Mixed with these discussions of the law are colorful episodes that few of us outside California realized before. The book features violent night riders, tales of ethnic pressures and prejudices (especially regarding the Armenian- American community), eccentricity and idealism in the characters of the Cooperative's leaders, and the marketing story of how Sun-Maid got lots of Americans to gobble their raisins.
So the book features lots of law with lots of social history, marketing, even violence. And a wealth of pictures helps the reading. Especially interesting are the early Sun-Maid advertisements. Fans of the histories of California, of agriculture, or of American law would enjoy the book.
For Easterners, good comparison/contrasts are studies of Kentucky's Black Patch War--Night Riders among the tobacco farmers.
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