How Is "agrarian Republicanism" Defined?

"Agrarian republicanism" is a political philosophy that stresses the idea that a country populated by free citizens involved in agriculture is the freest, most equal type of society. This idea was advanced most prominently by Thomas Jefferson, the third president of the United States of America.

Jefferson believed that independent farmers created a hearty citizenry, for they were largely self-made. They built their own houses, improved their own land and ate their own crops, staying away from large urban centers and eschewing handouts from other people. Such people, he believed, would always want to be free of a strong central government, and their votes would therefore preserve liberty in the nation as a whole. Because of their disdain for handouts, such rugged individualists would also be immune to ambitious politicians' promises, unlike people who nurture dependence, which, according to Jefferson, "begets subservience and venality, suffocates the germ of virtue and prepares fit tools for the designs of ambition." These agrarian republican beliefs in the moral and political power of farmers to provide a stable, free, rural nation largely lost out to the tendency toward urbanization spurred by the Industrial Revolution in the northern United States and the persistence of massive plantation growers in the southern part of the country.