Land and Freedom: Rural Society, Popular Protest, and Party Politics in Antebellum New York
Reeve HustonISBN: 0195136004;
During the early nineteenth-century, two million acres of New York's farmland were controlled by a handful of great families. Along the Hudson Valley and across the Catskills lay the great estates of the Van Rensselaers, the Livingstons, and a dozen lesser landlords. Some two hundred and sixty thousand men, women, and children-a twelfth of the population of New York, the nation's most populous state-worked this land as tenants. Beginning in 1839, these tenants created a movement dedicated to destroying the estates and distributing the land to those who farmed it. The "anti-rent" movement quickly became one of the most powerful and influential movements of the antebellum era. The anti-renters raised issues that lay at the heart of America's republican experiment: the distribution of land, the nature of democracy, and the meaning of freedom. In doing so, they left an indelible mark on politics and public ideals in both New York and the nation. They influenced and bitterly divided both...
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