Like all intellectual projects, this one has been shaped by many hands. As a graduate student, I was blessed with advisors who shared a commitment to high standards of scholarship, a willingness to devote prodigious time and energy to their students, and a disposition to let each student find his or her own voice. David Montgomery encouraged my interest in rural society and my desire to write a different sort of political history; he voiced his faith in the importance of this project, even when my own conviction was flagging. He read several drafts with care, encouraging me to tease out the broader significance of the anti-renters' story. His own work, especially Beyond Equality, has deeply influenced this work; so have his guidance and friendship. Bill Cronon offered humane counsel during the early stages of this project, allowed me to tap his deep knowledge of U. S. agricultural history, pushed me to think through my assumptions and concepts, and encouraged me to strive for elegance of expression. Emilia da Costa encouraged me to bring out the broad significance of the Anti-Rent Wars and rightly challenged some early interpretations. Her comments on my drafts, as well as numerous discussions over her superb dinners, had a decisive influence on this work. Although not officially an advisor, Jack Wilson was in on the conversations with Emilia. In addition to offering an exquisite barbecued lamb and that high, lonesome sound, he read numerous drafts and provided critical guidance. Several of his comments planted the seeds for important themes in this work. Finally, David Brion Davis had faith in the importance of the Anti-Rent Wars from the start, and extended encouragement and advice.
Since completing this work as a dissertation, numerous scholars have offered generous advice. John Brooke, Christopher Clark, Elisabeth Clemens, Edward Countryman, Harry Watson, and two anonymous readers each read a complete draft of this work and offered comments that ranged from the helpful to the pivotal. Eric Arnessen, Pete Daniel, Philip Deloria, Sarah Deutsch, William Forbath, Ronald Formisano, Michael Goldberg, Julie