From the September/October, 2009 issue of Touchstone
america The Ideal Place by Eric Miller

The Ideal Place

The Way of Improvement Leads Home: Philip Vickers Fithian and the Rural Enlightenment in Early America (Early American Studies)
by John Fea
University of Pennsylvania Press, 2008
(269 pages, $24.95, paperback)

reviewed by Eric Miller

Feel very home-sick.” Thus whispered Philip Vickers Fithian to his diary on November 21, 1773, three weeks into what his biographer, Messiah College historian John Fea, calls his year-long “Virginia sojourn.” Employed by the planter Robert Carter, Fithian was to provide instruction for seven of Carter’s children and a nephew.

This, to be clear, was expert instruction. Fithian, age 25, had recently graduated from Princeton College . . .


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