the Midwest, and agrarian democracy thrived: “There were norngreat ‘industrial kings’ or anv ‘high-pressure salesmen’ orrnbankers wlio were ‘omnipotent.’ There was no over production.rnThere was no lack of market. There was no unemplovment.rnThere was no starvation.” Old Jamie’s wife, Maria, managedrnthe garden and the preservation of food, for she “would havernconsidered it a disgrace to have bought food of any sort.” Thernfarm was a world apart, independent and complete, and itrnsupported a vast household from its bounty.rnBut in the decades after the war, the new commercial orderrnbegan to crowd in. Shopkeepers, formally on the margms ofrnOhio life, came to prominence, and salesmen were everywhere.rnFarmers no longer dominated the Town Square, beingrnreplaced by “the dark people,” strangers who “spoke an alienrntongue.” The first of the Mills sprang up, and soon the Townrnknew an incessant pounding and a perpetual orange glow in thernnight sky. Farmers of the old stock began to fail financially, arnchange ably captured in a paragraph about the wagon journevrnof a small boy, circa 1900:rnHe did not know, like his grandfather, Old Jamie, thatrnnot one of the farms along the way . . . was what it hadrnbeen during his youth and middle-age. Johnm neverrnsaw that some of the houses were in need of paint andrnthat here and there a fence had been patched once toornoften. Nor did he notice that there were almost nornyoung people and that as soon as the children grew uprnthey disappeared.. . . And as he could not see inside thernfarmhouses, he knew nothing of the mortgages madernagain and again in the hope that next year they wouldrnbe paid off, nor of the falling prices of cattle and grainrnand the rising prices of clothing and farm machineryrnand furniture and all the things manufactured and marketedrnby business men.rnNonconformity, once an American trait, came to be regardedrnas a dangerous thing. Christianity became Americanized:rn”Christ was the first business man and God must be arnbanker or broker.” The presidential campaigns of Bryan raisedrnthe spirits of the family for a time, only to let them fall again asrnthe American people entered “into a wild career of imperialism.”rnPressed to the limit, farmers mined rather than cultivatedrnthe land, leaving ruined soil and feeble, degenerate children.rnOnly new immigrant German families, like the neighboringrnSchintzes, seemed able to hold onto their land and their children.rnThey were the “eternal peasants” who distrusted middlemenrnwith a cold cynicism and who kept to themselves andrnsurvived. But they were not the stuff out of which JeffersonianrnDemocrats could be made, and the eountr”side surrenderedrnto the city, and to progress.rnOld Jamie’s grandson, Johnny (the fictionalized Louis Bromfield),rntried to carry the farm on for a short while, but he toornfailed: “And presenth’ Johnny understood that it was otherrncountries which kept generation after generation living uponrnthe same land. And he understood, too, that such a continuityrnwas impossible m the country in which he had been born.”rnBromfield traced the restlessness and chaos of post-1920rnAmerica to this loss of land and purpose. As the aging JuliarnShane explains it to Hattie Tolliver in The Green Bay Tree:rnLife is hard for our children. It isn’t as simple as it wasrnfor us. Their grandfathers were pioneers and the samernblood runs in their veins, only they haven’t a frontierrnany longer. Thev stand . . . these children of ours. . .rnwith their backs toward this rough-hewn middlewestrnand their faces set toward Europe and the East and thevrnbelong to neither. They are lost somewhere between.rnBy 1933, Bromfield could be counted among the lost.rnBut just as he gave up hope for America, Bromfield also sawrnhis adopted Europe coming apart, falling prey again to the allurernof militarism. As his writing began to show thematic confusion,rnhe searched for a way out of his philosophical cul-de-sac.rnThat quest, oddly enough, led to India. Visits there in 1932-33rnand 1935 culminated in his novel The Rains Came. Brilliantlyrnconceived in structure and characterization, it stands withrnThe Farm as Bromfield’s best work. While set whollv in thernmythical Indian state of Ranchipur, it is as much a novel aboutrnAmerica, and about the path to renewal. The central event ofrnthe book is the collapse of the Ranchipur Dam and the destructionrnof the city. By the example of others, and through therndiscover’ of his own place in the natural aristocracy, the hero—rna dissolute English ‘eteran of Wodd War I—realizes that life isrnmade meaningful by service to others and by living “close tornthe earth.”rnThese conclusions, and the mounting crisis in Europe,rnbrought Bromfield back to Ohio in 1939. He purchasedrn720 acres of worn-out farmland close to the family homesteadrnand resolved to build “Malabar Farm” into a modern Jeffersonianrndomain. He would restore the soil to fertility through thernapplication of modern science. He would achieve the selfsufficiencyrnin food and shelter known to his grandfather. Hernwould build a community of like-minded persons, to serve asrnan example for other Americans striving to reunite with thernland. And he would pass on this estate and way of life to hisrnthree daughters and their descendants.rnIn his fiction, Bromfield also felt compelled to come tornterms with the defining moment of American history, thernCivil War. In The Farm, his family members were abolitionists,rnseveral of the stronger ones ser’ing on the underground railroad,rnat war with the planter South. His next, Wild Is thernRiver, with its confused plot and undeveloped characters, failedrnas literature, but it marked Bromfield’s unqualified embrace ofrnSouthern agrarianism, including a spirited defense of the Confederaterncause. For Bromfield now, the war was not over slaverv;rnit was a conflict “between the land owners of the South andrnthe factory owners of the North,… between two kinds of civilization.”rnIn this Hamiltonian-Jeffersonian quarrel writ large,rnBromfield left no doubt as to where he stood. In a highly implausiblernscene, he has Agnes Wickes, the fictionalized niecernof the Union General ruling occupied New Orleans, shoutrnfrom a careening mule cart to Yankee troops: “Long LivernSecession! Hurrah for the Confederacy!” Bromfield’s otherrnhero, Louisiana planter Hector MacTavish, serves the Confederaternarmy and leads the guerrilla opposition, until it isrnclear that the war is decided. He falls in love with Agnes, andrneventually leads her, his loyal ex-slave Cesar, and variousrnCatholic Creoles, with families in tow, to a new place outrnWest: “It’s a wide green valley between high mountains and notrna settler in the place. It’s all ours for the taking . . . a wholernbright new world.” The future, in 1940 as in 1865, belonged tornthose natural aristocrats who would act and build a new communitv.rn28/CHRONICLESrnrnrn