Rural Land Tenure in the United States: A Socio-Economic Approach to Problems, Programs, and Trends

By Alvin L. Bertrand; Floyd L. Corty et al. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER SEVEN
Tenure Patterns and
Trends in the United States

HISTORIANS AND WRITERS of fiction have emphasized such factors as religious persecution, political oppression, the desire to evade the penalties of law, and various types of economic pressure as the basic reasons for early migration to the United States. Although these are important factors, they are perhaps no more important than the desire to own land. Many documents and much historical material give evidence that the " promised land " pulled immigrants to this country in large numbers. For illustration, G. S. Dow lucidly describes the role that the promise of land had in moving Irish and other immigrants to the United States. Concerning the former, he wrote:

The chief reason for the coming of this element (to the United States) was the expiration of their one hundred year leases in Ireland. When the English had overrun and laid waste the northern part of Ireland during the days of Cromwell, it was made an almost uninhabited waste and to settle it up migrants were tempted over, chiefly from Scotland, by the promise of free land in the way of one hundred year leases. Here they were prosperous and built up industries, especially the linen industry, and successfully tilled the soil. Although these settlers had looked upon their leases as perpetual, they were evicted from their homes; America was their only refuge. It offered them a new home, where they could be sure of the future. It was a place where the land was either free or very cheap ... so they migrated in large numbers from Ireland to America, where they have been known as Scotch-Irish. 1

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1
See G. S. Dow, Society and Its Problems ( New York: Thomas Y. Crowell Co., 1923), 103-108.

-103-

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