Chapter 10: The Other Civil War
...and so, I am being reminded, you see, that our progress as a nation in moving towards a truly United Peoples of the Land, has always been guided by powerful uprisings. By 'the people' taking note of the seemingly invisible forces that are determining their basic well being (in Economics they have the term “the invisible hand” that shifts the direction of markets and affects demand...) Those forces which are deciding how, when and whether the basic needs of the people are met and which/who are generally valuing 'the people' as, not equal, but of lesser value. The people have had to unite and resist and declare in order to flush out the hidden hierarchies and demand that the value of their labors be reflected in the economic governing...that the people have the majority of place in the governing...that the lust for property, power and expansion by those who already control the land, the power and the expansion be extinguished, and in its place: respect, harmony, equality, justness, liberty and happiness for all...progress is not, as in the concept of heaven and hell, the flip side of a coin, a total reversal in one clearly discernible instant. It is not marked by an arrival into Utopia...It is an important step along the way of many steps. These steps are not only our own in this particular life, but the steps of many who came before us and the many who will come after. There is a path that connects from the end of one person's life, to the beginning of yours, and then connects from the end of yours to the beginning of another. What a great tragedy if we forget that each our paths is critical to the continuation of progress; if we do not take the time to consider and feel what true progress is and therefore, what our true and critical role in it is, what our path is...

“A sheriff in the Hudson River Valley near Albany, New York, about to go into the hills in the fall of 1839 to collect back rents from tenants on the enormous Rensselaer estate, was handed a letter:

... the tenants have organized themselves into a body, and resolved not to pay any more rent until they can be redressed of their grievances. . . . The tenants now assume the right of doing to their landlord as he has for a long time done with them, viz: as they please.
You need not think this to be children's play... . if you come out in your official capacity ... I would not pledge for your safe return. ... A Tenant.

When a deputy arrived in the farming area with writs demanding the rent, farmers suddenly appeared, assembled by the blowing of tin horns. They seized his writs and burned them.”

“That December, a sheriff and a mounted posse of five hundred rode into the farm country, but found themselves in the midst of shrieking tin horns, eighteen hundred farmers blocking their path, six hundred more blocking their rear, all mounted, armed with pitchforks and clubs. The sheriff and his posse turned back, the rear guard parting to let them through.”

“This was the start of the Anti-Renter movement in the Hudson Valley, described by Henry Christman in Tin Horns and Calico. It was a protest against the patroonship system, which went back to the 1600s when the Dutch ruled New York, a system where (as Christman describes it) "a few families, intricately intermarried, controlled the destinies of three hundred thousand people and ruled in almost kingly splendor near two million acres of land.””

“The tenants paid taxes and rents. The largest manor was owned by the Rensselaer family, which ruled over about eighty thousand tenants and had accumulated a fortune of $41 million. The landowner, as one sympathizer of the tenants put it, could "swill his wine, loll on his cushions, fill his life with society, food, and culture, and ride his barouche and five saddle horses along the beautiful river valley and up to the backdrop of the mountain.””




Leave a Reply.