Unofficial proprietors in post-revolutionary central New York

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2 Scopus citations


Post-Revolutionary land speculators on central New York's New Military Tract, operating individually and uncoordinated in their efforts, found themselves trying to sell land while surrounded on all sides by the more alluring, centralized, coordinated land development schemes of the "developer's frontier". In the face of such competition, several New Military Tract land jobbers became more than just speculators, interested only in quick profits. They found it advantageous to take a relatively long-term view of their scattered holdings, and invested time and money not just in promoting settlement of their own land, but also in promoting and planning settlement of the entire region. By their actions they became "unofficial proprietors" of the New Military Tract. Although they were never as powerful as their neighbors in the developer's frontier, they acted in ways that distinguish them from traditional accounts of the ubiquitous frontier speculator. The activities of two unofficial proprietors in central New York are presented here to suggest complexities of land speculation and development practices on the frontier in general; and to illuminate an important component of colonization in a particular place that is important to the place itself as well as constitutive of general frontier processes. America, from its inception, was a speculation (and) land speculation in the United States has been a national business. The land developer has created a distinctive chapter in American settlement history ... Development of the frontier necessitated careful planning.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)146-164
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Historical Geography
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1991

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • History
  • Archaeology


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