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Abstract

Rural America has traditionally been valued in our society less because of what it is than because of what it is not. The Founders valued rurality because it set us apart from England, giving us a separate identity. By the mid-19th century we were valuing rural America because it was not urban America. In this century, celebrating rural America has served as a means of criticizing our urban industrial society and its values. We will probably always celebrate rural America, both because doing so allows us legitimately to criticize our society and because it provides a blank screen on which we can project our hopes and dreams.

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