The New Republic Gardener
Freedom’s Gardener, James F. Brown, Horticulture, and the Hudson Valley in Antebellum America, by Myra B. Young Armstead, is a book about a slave who became a master gardener and died a freeman. James F. Brown kept diaries between 1829-1866. Professor of History at Bard College, NY, Armstead brings to light how the citizens of the New Republic were at once making money hand over fist while trying to define what constitutes a good United States citizen of the New Republic. If you were a gardener and a member of a horticulture society that certainly gave you an upper hand, at least for men, and unusually so for a black man, James F. Brown who worked as a master gardener in the Hudson Valley of NY. “Fruit, trees, shrubs, vegetables, and flowers stood as an antidote to their engagement with crude, materialistic commercial pursuits…” Professor Armstead writes in reference to these men of immigrant fathers who became merchants of import.