Abstract: Politics and the Dung Heap: The Arrival of Fertilizer in the Georgia Cotton Belt

Timothy Johnson


In the late nineteenth century, a dizzying array of chemical fertilizers made a dramatic appearance in the Cotton Belt. In an effort to curb fraud and regulate the fertilizer trade, the state of Georgia passed inspection laws and created the first State Department of Agriculture to help see the laws out. The stamp of government authority on the new agricultural chemicals did not hurt the young fertilizer industry, but instead gave fertilizers official authenticity. This tenuous connection between government authority and industry helped usher in a new era of industrial agriculture, while it banished the basis of agrarian principles that had given the chemical theories birth.