The Development of American Agriculture: A Historical by Willard W. Cochrane

By Willard W. Cochrane

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The states pursued five principal policies. First, they swept away the essential elements of a feudalistic tenure system such as quitrents and the right of primogeniture, and they refused to create new feudal or proprietary domains. Second, they stimulated private enterprise by placing land in the hands of private individuals as rapidly as possible instead of holding it in state-owned operations. Third, they sought to build up communities of small farmers by selling small units on easy terms to individuals with limited capital.

Fir they asserted that independence automatically deprived the king of his ungranted land and vested the title to it in the new state governments. "1 In other words, the patriots evolved and acted upon the principle that independence annulled the king's ownership of ungranted lands but that the authority he had once exercised provided a basis for the territorial claims of the new states. In view of the king's vast landholdings, the acquisition by the states of his ungranted lands was of enormous importance to them.

The British king made such grants to Lord Baltimore to found the colony of Maryland and to William Penn to found the colony of Pennsylvania; he also made a grant of what is now North and South Carolina to a small group of lords. In Maryland and the Carolinas, the proprietors attempted to create feudal estates in the colonies to be owned by hereditary nobles and to be worked by peasants. But Englishmen did not want to migrate to North America to become serfs, or peasants. Thus the feudalistic schemes of these proprietors broke down, and they were forced to distribute their lands largely as gifts.

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