The Place of Property in the Lives of Americans from 1607 to 1876
Before the 17th century, Americans main source of livelihood was Agriculture, fishing, hunting and gathering. The land in which they carried these activities was owned by families or the whole clan. The history of America shows that many people embraced property ownership as the means to cater for oneself and the family from early colonial settlement through the civil war and beyond. This was attributed to the growth of population which led to competition for resources. This paper discusses on the history of Americans in property ownership.
History of property ownership
The history of property ownership dates back in the 1600’s. A number of historical events were also milestones in the property and property rights management. The British established the American Claims Commission in 1783 to compensate people who lost their land in the newly founded region of the United States. Several property philosophies were in practice at the time. Thomas Hobbes writings appeared between 1642 and 1651 at the time when King Charles 1 forces were fighting the forces loyal to parliament. His idea drawn from the writings of Cicero was “giving to everyman his own.” At the same time, he questioned on anybody owning anything. His conclusion was that the proof of somebody’s property if there is a realm of power, which was unambiguous that it could protect the status as search. In the 17th century, James Harrington considered Hobbes philosophy differently by saying that properties are not inevitable but natural.
In 1760s, William Blackstone, in his commentaries of the laws of England, sought to consolidate the English common law. He advocated the prevention of tyranny by the elites and monarchy through property right, compensation. Charles Comte (1834) attempted to justify the legitimacy of private property now that it was no longer synonymous with land. He abhorred slavery, which was tolerated by Roman legal tradition and suggested a Communal, national property consisting of goods easily available. That way enough property was appropriated in a way that it was enough with surplus left.
In the contemporary views regarding property, political thinkers subscribe that human beings have a right to enjoy property. In 1844 there were the yeomen that described the independent farmer’s political spirit and economic spirit in the United States. They owned their farms but required a lot of labor and effort. The invention of the cotton gin in 1793 boosted the productivity of cotton in the southern. Tobacco was also doing well making Agriculture the main economic activity in the southern. This prompted the growth of slave trade. The output of these Agricultural activities created the desire for the Americans to own tracks of land in which they could farm and exchange their products with gold. This was also a major cause of the civil wars experienced during the fight for slave trade.
Around 1846, David Wilmot introduced a bill in the house of representative during the Mexican American war. President Polk, armed with 2 million dollars, was able to negotiate a territory settlement with Mexico with a stipulation that none of the territory acquired will be open to slavery. The bill did not go past the senate until 1847 when another bill providing for $3 million dollars appropriation, with Wilmot trying to introduce another antislavery amendment to it. The senate eventually drew its own bill. Wilmot proviso assisted in crystallizing the slavery in the north and south although the free soil party eventually adopted the idea. This party was formed in 1848 as a merger between antislavery democrats and conscience Whigs with the liberty crusaders. As opposed to the above, where the cotton Whigs who were politically ambitious conscience Whigs in opposition and downplayed the slavery issue in order to preserve peace and enhance the cotton production in the southern states.
The northwest ordinance was formally an ordinance for the government of the territory of the United States, northwest of river Ohio and was provided for by the act of congress in 1787. The, law regulated the settlement of the Northwest Territory and governed under the articles of confederation at the time, and slavery was prohibited. Head right system introduction was an attempt to solve the labor shortage during the labor economy in 1610. The system attracted immigrants; which is also referred to as a legal grant of land that was widely used in Virginia and became a model for other economies. The system gave the household head the right to fifty acres for each and another fifty acres for each adult member of servant brought to America. Navigation acts came into force in 1651 and was a series of laws restricting involvement of foreign ships in between England and its colony. The main aim was to exclude the Netherlands from the profits made by English trade.
At the onset of this article, it was shown the steps that the United States as a country followed to be where it is. The period covered was of immense significance in different states depending on who was ruling the inhabitants of an area. This in turn, shaped the policies governing the ownership of properties, be it land or slaves among others. Different legislations were enacted, or laws abolished to determine the future transactions between individual entities or groups.
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