Chapter

Toward Crisis, 1819–1840

Reeve Huston

in Land and Freedom

Published in print October 2000 | ISBN: 9780195136005
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199848782 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195136005.003.0003
Toward Crisis, 1819–1840

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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

Chapter.  14983 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of the Americas

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