Dividing the Land: Early American Beginnings of Our Private Property Mosaic, Issue 238

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University of Chicago Press, Apr 15, 1995 - Business & Economics - 410 pages
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Many property lines drawn in early America still survive today and continue to shape the landscape and character of the United States. Surprisingly, though, no one until now has thoroughly examined the process by which land was divided into private property and distributed to settlers from the beginning of colonization to early nationhood.

In this unprecedented study, Edward T. Price covers most areas of the United States in which the initial division of land was controlled by colonial governments—the original thirteen colonies, and Maine, Vermont, Kentucky, West Virginia, Tennessee, Louisiana, and Texas. By examining different land policies and the irregular pattern of property that resulted from them, Price chronicles the many ways colonies managed land to promote settlement, develop agriculture, defend frontiers, and attract investment. His analysis reveals as much about land planning techiniques carried to America from Europe as innovations spurred by the unique circumstances of the new world.

Price’s analysis draws on his thorough survey of property records from the first land plans in Virginia in 1607 to empresario grants in Texas in the 1820s. This breadth of data allows him to identify regional differences in allocating land, assess the impact of land planning by historical figures like William Penn of Pennsylvania and Lord Baltimore of Maryland, and trace changes in patterns of land division and ownership through transfers of power among Britain, the Netherlands, France, Spain, Mexico, and the Republic of Texas.
 

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Contents

Framework of the Land
3
Dividing
27
Diffusion of Townships
49
Commercially Founded Towns
65
Land Division
87
Control and Disposition of Land
105
SeventeenthCentury Land Division
117
EighteenthCentury Colonial Land Division
141
Land Division in New Jersey and on
245
The Penn Proprietorship
257
Land Division Initiated
285
The Many Templates of Texas Land Division
305
Summary Conclusion Aftermath
331
Surveying and Property Boundaries
349
Size Distribution Samples of Land Grants
356
Glossary
364

Farms and Plantations in the Colonial South
173
The National Period
185
The Middle Atlantic Region
207
Bibliography
371
Index
397
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