Tin Horns and Calico: A Decisive Episode in the Emergence of Democracy

Tin Horns and Calico: A Decisive Episode in the Emergence of Democracy

Tin Horns and Calico: A Decisive Episode in the Emergence of Democracy

Tin Horns and Calico: A Decisive Episode in the Emergence of Democracy

Excerpt

There is an ever-recurrent necessity for the retelling of the past in the light of present thought. Events-- like works of art--must await the judgment of posterity as to their importance. Readers have often accepted as most authoritative the interpretations of historians who had the advantage of observing during their lifetimes the happenings they recorded. Readers of today have come to recognize the fallacy of making such acceptance a general rule. The eyewitness writer is often too close to his material to realize its true significance.

Tin Horns and Calico tells a story that has never been told in its entirety before. Nineteenth-century historians gave it little thought and less space in their works. In fact their indifference to it was so great that, through lack of feeling for what constitutes true history, they made Henry Christman's research labors more difficult than they might otherwise have been. His conclusion of them is therefore the more triumphant.

For this narrative is a contribution of importance to American history. It records the dramatic final chapter of the struggle of the people of the United States against undemocratic and feudal practices with regard to the possession of land--practices that had been firmly established for two centuries.

The right of a man to own and till his own land had already been recognized in much of Europe before the first settlers arrived in America. In England feudalism had been abandoned for approximately a century. Yet the establishment by the Dutch West India Company of patroonships along the Hudson as a means of encouraging colonization denied that right. And the English rulers who succeeded the Dutch found it to their advantage to continue the system by allowing the patroons (as manor lords) to maintain their holdings and to grant great manors to "deserving" English subjects.

The unrest that followed these grants developed into open . . .

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