Although there were only some thirty people in the audience that day, Madison’s visionary call for change was published as a pamphlet and in major newspapers across the country, as well as in the journals of other agricultural societies. Over the next year every enlightened farmer in the United States of America read Madison’s Address to the Agricultural Society of Albemarle, and dozens of letters arrived at Montpelier from across the United States and Europe.
Agrarian farmers see, accept, and live within their limits. They understand and agree to the proposition that there is “this much and no more.” Everything that happens on an agrarian farm is determined or conditioned by the understanding that there is only so much land, so much water in the cistern, so much hay in the barn, so much corn in the crib, so much firewood in the shed, so much food in... the cellar or freezer, so much strength in the back and arms—and no more. This is the understanding that induces thrift, family coherence, neighborliness, local economies. Within accepted limits, these become necessities. The agrarian sense of abundance comes from the experienced possibility of frugality and renewal within limits.
In his insistence on drawing connections, on making the jump from "the mere accumulation of facts," as he put it, to an approach he called "the fitting of these facts together," he moved American oceanography from the specimen-collecting days of the nineteenth century to the ecosystem-oriented perspective of the twentieth.' He also bound together, for a brief, graceful moment, the seemingly... unmeshable angles of view of the scientist and the fisherman, merging the two, like the twin images from a set of binoculars, into a deeper, more detailed and perspective-rich picture than either could provide alone. He did not set out to do this. His writings and letters hold little to suggest he saw the schism between scientists and fishermen as some destructive social or political gap that needed to be closed. He did it because he needed the information that fishermen possessed.