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History remembers Edmund Ruffin, the Virginia native believed to have fired the first shot against Fort Sumter in 1861, as one of the South's most aggressive "fire-eaters." This volume of Ruffin's work offers us his lesser-known but equally intense passion for agricultural study. In carefully edited selections from Ruffin's writings, Jack Temple Kirby presents an innovative, progressive agronomist and pioneering conservationist. Arranged in sections discussing southern agricultural history, Ruffin's observations of nature, his ideas about land reform, and his plans for soil rejuvenation, Nature's Management shows that Ruffin was a thinker far ahead of his time, recognizing our need to improve agriculture and to protect nature. Known as the "father of soil science" in the United States, Edmund Ruffin discovered and solved the problem of soil acidity while still in his twenties and published several papers on the subject. As the publication of his writing increased, Ruffin left his own farming business to pursue his studies. This volume contains a collection of Ruffin's essays on a variety of interrelated subjects. From the promotion of fencing and methods of malaria prevention to advocacy of a public works program and the recycling of waste, Ruffin's ideas paved the way for the early conservation movement associated with Theodore Roosevelt, Gifford Pinchot, and others. Nature's Management presents Ruffin's activism and innovative genius at its best, replacing the image of a southern firebrand with that of an outspoken reformer deserving of recognition.