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.Another reason was population density.With 747,550 persons living withinits borders in 1790, Virginia was more heavily settled than any other state in theUnion; in fact, it had more residents than Massachusetts and New York com-bined.This many people could not thrive under a dominant plantation system, inwhich tobacco fields stretched across much of the arable land, and centers ofcommerce or manufacturing had not yet been established.A third driving impulse was a hunger for open space and isolation.Thisdesire motivated economically and socially marginal types  constitutionallyrestless backwoodsmen from Virginia, as well as from other parts of the colonialinterior.Hunters, trappers, and traders envisioned Kentucky s untrammeledwilderness not as land to be conquered and turned into plantations, but as akind of Garden of Eden.These pioneers imagined they could wander about thisunmarked frontier, live off its pristine land, respecting its ways and enjoying adegree of freedom in the wild that was not possible where settlers had alreadycleared a path.Not interested in owning property or settling down, these peripa-tetic pioneers wanted to move unencumbered from place to place, hunting theabundant game, raising a few crops, and tending some livestock.They preferredto lead self-reliant, self-contained lives, and Kentucky appeared to accommodate1.Kulikoff, Tobacco and Slaves, 77.2.By 1850, seven percent of Kentucky s free population had been born in Virginia.Missouri was then the only other state with a slightly larger proportion of Virginianatives  eight percent.Fischer and Kelly, Bound Away, Table 6, 325.3.These counties were Albemarle, Augusta, Caroline, Essex, Gloucester, Goochland,Hanover, King William, King and Queen, Louisa, New Kent, and Orange.Gwathmey,Twelve Virginia Counties, 1.4.The greatest number of Virginians had migrated by the mid-19th century to the states ofOhio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Missouri, Indiana, and Illinois.They represented 80percent of all those who had left the state.78 III.Bluegrass, Black Dominancethis need well.Land was there for the taking, and so was the wild game  untilthey nearly wiped it out.1Acquiring more fertile land for commercial agriculture was clearly anothermajor reason for the movement of Virginians into Kentucky.Many of the earlymigrants were lowland planters who made a living from tobacco, and growingthis crop was both labor- and land-intensive.Plantation agriculture requiredmore land per farmer than in the North, where different crops could be commer-cially grown on smaller plots.Since fertilizer was not applied, tobacco fieldswere soon exhausted and their value declined.2 By the last decades of the 18thcentury, Piedmont plantation owners were becoming desperate to cultivate newlands as their existing holdings were virtually used up.Furthermore, the sharpdecline in prices as a result of the war with England had severely eroded theplanters profits, and they needed cheaper land to restore their good fortunes.The western frontier seemed to hold the solution.Early reports of explorers,hunters, and traders who had ventured into present-day Kentucky and Tennes-see told not only of its vast, forested wilderness, but also of its rich and bountifulsoils.Inspired by these accounts, well-to-do planters were more than willing toleave behind their Piedmont estates and head west.Early on, the prospect of reaping large profits from selling Kentucky lands tothese planters also attracted speculators, both in Virginia and back in England.3Using their greater financial leverage, they bought up choice tracts, displacingsquatters and driving up prices beyond the reach of smaller farmers.Along withspeculators, a number of planters purchased land as an investment, allowing ten-ant farmers to occupy and cultivate these tracts in their absence.Others dis-patched agents to buy up contiguous parcels in Kentucky to create tobaccoplantations.Once the land had been cleared and homes built, these Virginiaplanters brought their belongings and families west to settle on their newestates.4 The coming of  gentry law makers from Virginia inevitably led  par-ticularly in the Bluegrass  to the demarcating of property boundaries, lengthylegal sparring over title, and, ultimately, the barring of access to hunters.5 In the1.In 1775, Daniel Boone introduced a bill in the House of Delegates of the TransylvaniaColony to provide for better management of the rapidly disappearing game.StephenAron,  Pigs and Hunters:  Rights in the Woods on the Trans-Appalachian Frontier, inContact Points: American Frontiers from the Mohawk Valley to the Mississippi, 1750-1850, ed.Andrew R.L.Cayton and Frederika J.Teute (Chapel Hill: University of North CarolinaPress, 1998), 197.2.Depletion of soils throughout the South resulted in a sharp decline in land values.By1850, the average acre of land below the Mason Dixon Line was selling for only $5.34,compared to $28.07 in the North.See Albert B.Hart, The American Nation: A History, vol.16, Slavery and Abolition, 1831-1841 (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1906), 57.3.Aron,  Pioneers and Profiteers, 182.4.The planters themselves had no desire to  brave the frontier.Clark, History of Kentucky, 91.5.Aron,  Pigs and Hunters, 202.79 Race to the Frontierprocess, much of the economic opportunity and independence first associatedwith Kentucky s wilds was lost.In just a few decades, the open spaces the back-woodsmen had sought in this wilderness would disappear.Slaveholding Piedmont farmers also felt compelled to move inland becauseof the labor situation they faced.The war-related drop in tobacco productionhad left some slaves idle  a costly and potentially dangerous development.Thousands of untilled acres in Kentucky would provide ample work for theseblack workers.In addition, many younger planters wanted to establish estatesfurther west because of a change in Virginia s inheritance law after the war: thedemise of primogeniture meant that plantations now had to be divided upequally among a deceased s male offspring instead of passed on to the eldest.1Hence, younger planters, who also worried about another economic downturnin the Piedmont during their lifetime, were the most apt to migrate.Still othershad fallen deeply into debt and wanted to start life anew on the frontier.2 For allof these reasons, many members of the planter elite left Virginia beginning in the1790s.More than 300 families from just one county  Albemarle, where ThomasJefferson s home, Monticello, was located  left for Kentucky and Tennesseeduring the following two decades.3 And with them came thousands of slaves [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]

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