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Land and FreedomRural Society, Popular Protest, and Party Politics in Antebellum New York$
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Reeve Huston

Print publication date: 2000

Print ISBN-13: 9780195136005

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195136005.001.0001

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Toward Crisis, 1819–1840

Toward Crisis, 1819–1840

(p.45) Chapter 2 Toward Crisis, 1819–1840
Land and Freedom

Reeve Huston

Oxford University Press

Tenants faced new circumstances in the economy during the 1820s and 1830s. In the early decades of settlement, their acquisition of property had depended on cheap land, widespread use of the commons, and intensive use of family labor. After 1820, simultaneous and mutually reinforcing changes—population growth, environmental degradation, a switch from grain to livestock, and increasing access to markets—undermined these conditions, forcing tenants to devise new strategies for attaining property, security, and comfort. These strategies brought the hill towns more fully into capitalism. They changed many tenants' thinking. They created new divisions and dependencies, raising some tenants to new levels of security and comfort while leaving a growing number landless, insecure, and poor. Diminishing legacies and increasing capital costs left leasehold farmers with a pressing need for cash. Tenants responded by dramatically increasing their production for market.

Keywords:   tenants, economy, settlement, land, family, labor, population, capitalism, farmers, market

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