Land and Freedom: Rural Society, Popular Protest, and Party Politics in Antebellum New York

Paperback | June 15, 2002

byReeve Huston

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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 sixtythousand 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" movementquickly 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 bitterlydivided both major political parties, and helped create the Republican party. Moreover, they shaped the ideas, policies, and careers of such national leaders as Martin Van Buren, Silas Wright, Horace Greeley, and William Seward. Deftly interweaving an engaging narrative history with broad-ranging social and political analysis, Land and Freedom brings to life the voices of antebellum northern farmers as they debated the critical social and political issues of their day. It grounds those debates in a detailed analysis ofsocial and political change on New York's estates, and demonstrates the impact of farmers' ideas and initiatives on the broader social and political order. In doing so, it offers new insights into the social and political thought of northeastern farmers, the extent and limits of popular politicalpower under the Jacksonian political order, and the social origins of free-labor ideology and the Republican party.

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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 sixtythousand men, women, and children-a twelfth...

Reeve Huston is Assistant Professor of History at the University of Arizona, Tucson.

other books by Reeve Huston

Format:PaperbackDimensions:306 pages, 5.59 × 8.82 × 0.79 inPublished:June 15, 2002Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195158229

ISBN - 13:9780195158229

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Table of Contents

Introduction1. Landlords and Tenants, 1785-18202. Toward Crisis, 1819-18403. The Fall of the House of Van Rensselaer, 1819-18394. Origins of the Anti-Rent Movement, 1839-18445. Land and Freedom, 1844-18466. The Parties and "The People," 1844-18467. "A Right to the Soil"8. Fast Fish and the Temple of the Philistines9. Toward Free LaborStatistical Appendix

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"One cannot help but be impressed by the breadth of Hutson's research and his engagement with the subject." - -H-Net