To Have and to Hold: The Meaning of Ownership in the United States

By Neala Schleuning | Go to book overview

since dogs in chase will run anywhere a deer takes them--including over property leased to hunting clubs."59

By the end of the nineteenth century, the American landscape was completely enclosed, owned. The frontier, the land, no longer was the locus of opportunity, no longer the site of hopes and dreams for the future. By the end of the twentieth century most of us did not even miss owning the land. Only the occasional curious observation of a new immigrant reminded me recently that there is no place, no space of earth to which an individual can lay claim. A South African friend noted that in her country all you have to do to lay claim to land is to build a home on it. But in the United States at the end of the twentieth century not only was there no empty space left, but no one, other than a few anarchist squatters, ever questioned the inability to enter and claim a part of the commons. But by then it seemed that it no longer mattered.


NOTES
1.
Joseph Jorgensen, "Land Is Cultural: So is a Commodity", Journal of Ethnic Studies 12, 3 (Fall 1984): 6; and Lawrence Goodwyn, "The Cooperative Commonwealth & Other Abstractions: In Search of a Democratic Premise", Marxist Perspectives 10 (Summer 1980): 16.
2.
Yuji Ichioka, "Japanese Immigrant Response to the 1920 California Alien Land Law", Agricultural History 58, 2 ( 1984): 163.
3.
Ichioka, 173.
4.
Edward S. Shapiro, "Decentralist Intellectuals and the New Deal", Journal of American History 58, 4 ( March 1972).
5.
See Who Owns America? A New Declaration of Independence, edited by Herbert Agar and Allen Tate ( Freeport, N. Y., 1970); Raymond Witte, Twenty-Five Years of Crusading: A History of National Catholic Rural Life Conference ( Des Moines, Iowa, 1948); Twelve Southerners, "I'll Take My Stand", in American Issues 2, edited by Merle Curti, Willard Thorp, Carlos Baker, and Joseph A. Dowling ( Philadelphia, 1971).
6.
Shapiro, 942.
7.
Carl Betke, "The UFA: Visions of a Cooperative Commonwealth", Alberta History 27, 3 (Summer 1979): 9-10.
8.
Arthur J. and Marie McGuire Papers. St. Paul, Minn.: Minnesota Historical Society Manuscripts Collection.
9.
Neala Schleuning, America--Song We Sang Without Knowing: The Life and Ideas of Meridel Le Sueur ( Mankato, Minn., 1983).
10.
Jess Gilbert and Steve Brown, "Alternative Land Reform Proposals in the 1930s: The Nashville Agrarians and the Southern Tenant Farmers' Union", Agricultural History 55, 4 ( October 1981): 355.
11.
Thomas D. Boston, "Capitalist Development and Afro-American Land Tenancy", Science and Society 46, 4 (Winter 1982-83): 451. Other factors contributing to the decline in black tenancy included northern migration and lack of technical expertise ( Brooks). In recent years, many African Americans have been taxed out of some of their most valuable holdings originally granted to them after the Civil War. Hilton Head, South Carolina, and other island holdings off the coast of South Carolina have become popular vacation retreats, and land values are skyrocketing. As land is bought up and developed, taxes increase. The poorer residents can't afford these high taxes, and are forced to sell their land.

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To Have and to Hold: The Meaning of Ownership in the United States
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents ix
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • 1 - What is Property? 1
  • Notes 31
  • 2 - Who Owns the Land? 35
  • Notes 55
  • 3 - Who Owns the United States? Part I 59
  • Notes 80
  • 4 - Who Owns the United States? Part II 83
  • Notes 100
  • 5 - The Meaning of Ownership 103
  • Notes 124
  • 6 - Consuming as Owning 127
  • Notes 149
  • 7 - Woman as Possession: Images of Owning 153
  • Notes 177
  • 8 - Beyond Consumerism: Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness 181
  • Notes 209
  • Selected Bibliography 213
  • Index 235
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