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

$26.00 USD

Part of Cambridge Studies on the American South

  • Date Published: June 2012
  • availability: This ISBN is for an eBook version which is distributed on our behalf by a third party.
  • format: Adobe eBook Reader
  • isbn: 9781139369046

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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 Dominion.

    • Describes the political transformation of citizenship from an agrarian republic to a modern slave-owning democracy
    • Explains the influence of the English common law on Thomas Jefferson's political thought
    • It is remarkably accessible and engaging for non-legal historians, despite its sustained treatment of highly specialized questions
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    Reviews & endorsements

    '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 History

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    Product details

    • Date Published: June 2012
    • format: Adobe eBook Reader
    • isbn: 9781139369046
    • availability: This ISBN is for an eBook version which is distributed on our behalf by a third party.
  • 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: Reaction.

  • Author

    Christopher Michael Curtis, Claflin University, South Carolina
    Christopher Michael Curtis serves as the Department Head for the Department of History at Armstrong State University, Georgia. He is a former Marine Infantry Officer.

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