In many respects early Pennsylvania was the prototype of North American development. Its conservative defense of liberal individualism, its population of mixed national and religious origins, its dispersed farms, county seats, and farm-service villages, and its mixed crop and livestock agriculture served as models for much of the rural Middle West. To many western Europeans in the eighteenth century life in early Pennsylvania offered a veritable paradise and refuge from oppression. Some called it "the best poor man's country in the world." The Best Poor Man's Country was the winner of the Albert J. Beveridge Award of the American Historical Society.