By Lisi Krall
Makes use of the interdisciplinary process of evolutionary economics to discover the historical past of land domestication within the usa.
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Additional resources for Proving Up: Domesticating Land in U.S. History
Placing the Homestead Act in the historical context of coevolving land institutions requires proper attention to the connection of the Homestead Act to the policies that preceded it during three periods: Period 34 Proving Up I, 1785–1820, begins the enactment of the Land Ordinance of 1785 and extends through 1820. Period II, 1820–1841, leads up to and includes the passage of the Preemption Act. Period III, 1841–1862, is the period after preemption and leading up to the passage of the Homestead Act of 1862.
18 Behind the legalese is the banning of entails and the creation of the conditions whereby land could be easily and legally transferred from one person to another. The institution of fee simple ownership provided a clear cleavage with feudal land relations, thereby establishing fully alienated land and asserting the supremacy of the natural rights tradition of property ownership 16 Proving Up over that of divine right. With the passage of the Land Ordinance of 1785, created by a committee on which Jefferson served, the provisions for feesimple ownership of land were laid out clearly as national policy.
Jefferson tapped into the pulse 24 Proving Up of the historical moment. Anxieties about the new economic forces were emergent but these could be assuaged by an appeal to specialization in agriculture. By virtue of land we could encourage a virtuous and unique brand of capitalism. Thus, economic liberalism and Jefferson’s agrarian ideal had a unique convergence in American history. The agrarian ethos was a land-centered counterbalance to the raw force of the market economy. In this way it was ﬁrmly established as a cultural ethos, a foundational institution, which would thereafter take on a life of its own, all the while co-evolving with the market economy.