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The American Farmer in the Eighteenth CenturyA Social and Cultural History$
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Richard Lyman Bushman

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780300226737

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300226737.001.0001

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Generation of Violence

Generation of Violence

A Population Explosion Ignites Conflict

(p.58) 4. Generation of Violence
The American Farmer in the Eighteenth Century

Richard Lyman Bushman

Yale University Press

Although population in North America grew at an astounding rate in the eighteenth century, Benjamin Franklin believed the vast open lands in North American could easily absorb the growth. He underestimated the tensions created by farm parents seeking land for their children in a time of rising prices. Through the seventeenth century, open lands along the coast and up the rivers provided adequate acreage for the rising generation. Land was distributed by headrights and grants in the South and Middle Colonies; in New England, it was given as townships to groups of settlers. These systems broke down as the population grew and land prices rose. Settlers in search of farms were forced on to lands that were in dispute. Adjoining colonies laid claim to the same areas, or the native people refused to acknowledge purchases by colonies or land companies. In these contested areas, violence broke out between the rival claimants. From the Carolinas to Vermont, farmers used force to defend their titles. They resisted law officers or fought with the Indians to protect the farms that supplied their families. After the Revolution, the new federal government developed systems for distributing land. Conflicts occurred occasionally and Indian wars lasted through the century, but the violence abated as institutions formed to help families acquire land for their children.

Keywords:   Land, Violence, Native Americans, Population, Prices

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