Jefferson's Freeholders and the Politics of Ownership in the Old Dominion

Jefferson's Freeholders and the Politics of Ownership in the Old Dominion

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Jefferson's Freeholders and the Politics of Ownership in the Old Dominion explores the historical processes by which Virginia was transformed from a British colony into a Southern slave state. It focuses on changing conceptualizations of ownership and emphasizes the persistent influence of the English common law on Virginia's postcolonial political culture. The book explains how the traditional characteristics of land tenure became subverted by the dynamic contractual relations of a commercial economy and assesses the political consequences of the law reforms that were necessitated by these developments. Nineteenth-century reforms seeking to reconcile the common law with modern commercial practices embraced new democratic expressions about the economic and political power of labor, and thereby encouraged the idea that slavery was an essential element in sustaining republican government in Virginia. By the 1850s, the ownership of human property had replaced the ownership of land as the distinguishing basis for political power, with tragic consequences for the Old more

Product details

  • Electronic book text
  • Cambridge University Press (Virtual Publishing)
  • Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • 1139084151
  • 9781139084154

Table of contents

1. Introduction: the tragedy of ownership; Part I. Renovatio: 2. Taking notice of an error; 3. The chosen people of God; Part II. Reformatio: 4. An invidious and anti-Republican test; 5. Can these be the sons of their fathers?; 6. Doubt seems to have arisen; 7. A new system of jurisprudence; Part III. Conclusion: more

Review quote

'Curtis offers an erudite study of the legal basis of property ownership in Virginia between the American Revolution and the 1850s.' The Journal of American History 'In his doggedly intelligent study of the legal culture of possession in late colonial and antebellum Virginia, Christopher Michael Curtis shows that the abundance of scholarship on Thomas Jefferson has a point beyond the hagiographic: Jefferson remains an important point of departure for understanding the early south.' Christopher Tomlins, Journal of Southern Historyshow more

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