CommonRightandCommonwealth - 7 Common Right and...

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Unformatted text preview: 7 Common Right and Commonwealth I "The steel: law is the tactic in this part surf the cnunty new. I want ten say tn the voters nfCarrnll cttttttty. that we as peer men and negro-es do nttt need the law, but we need a democratic government and independence, that will dc- the cnmmctn people good" Sen thundered the white dirt tanner L. JJnnes in an Ill-'55 lener tn the Inca] nempeper.‘]encs was I'lfl-l alone in viewing the sleek law as an instrument cufclsst eppreesinn er as an issue that transcended purely eccunnntic cnncents. Nnr was he alcitte in challenging the tenets ItI-I' white supremaeyaltd racial solidarity. Nor, indeed, did he articulate strictly regional semihili'lies. Hundred: elf small farmers and laborers at" both races in the Genrgitt Upcnutttry rallied with jenea te- pence-ct the grazing rights that the ttnelt law diretttened tn abridge. For them, the law was the 3131'th instance at" eEc-rts hy the emerging pnsthellum elite tn cast petty pmdttecrs inte a state nl'depmdeney. find in ease-cinch; social and ecntttlrnic dislocation with new enpreuictns nl'pnlititzal pciwer. they jnitted industrial “hurl-tern in Nnnltern cities and farmers in the Midwestern enuntryeicle whn emailed the certuplicrn nl' the democratic pm in Gilded Age 1. Burns" .Frte fins. May I5. 1335. 939 i-I-fl THE WHTE‘K I)? THE W WHEEL? America, in a campaign t-u defend their men eeniutt er Lite Ewe-Intimacy republican ltnet'itage.= [t has hut-en ctutumanr tn penetrate Ilte' tflfltta in the South as a political hiatus, a petite-cl ni' relative quieiteenee biz-tween the turbulent era: ni' Hecatutrttcliun and Pupttliun. With the end ul' militant rulct it is argued, the fluurhtt-tt Democrat: crushed indigemttat Independent maven-Ema. ct'ntmlidtttttd their l‘tt‘tlt'l nl't- lllre pfliitical system , and reign-tad virtually uttqtpcttetl until the advent til" the fiuutltern Fannent’ fmil'HIf-: Euclt a picture doc: have tum:- plauaihilily ili'tccr l'nctn DI] the Iliad: Belt tn the statehntues. thmtglt recent studies suggest permitting content-J But in Il'tc Upcuuutrge the tflfltn fl'h' the intentilicntinn nl' tan-rial and political conflict: that had begun tumri'ace in the year: after tflfifi. A variety nfiit-‘ttnt stint-II lucal politict and sharpened tlivitittns created by the deed-tilting staple emu-3mg, nnne more in than the ate-cit... he i'e-nee. late-‘ llillfl'lf litughl nut men the euuree ni‘the decade. the Fencing cuntrut'enr galvanized budding antagtntittntt that the Independent: initially lapped, it metal-ed the eullturnl.r at. we]! as eennmnie. dimeminnt ui' pulitieal struggled and it paved the mad “1 Fcpulism. Ellen: ten urethra: fencing t-tatute: which pmided the caramel: ctr “eaten-range" gearing had lit-en made during the antebellum era. Gnnccned agitation, ituwetrcr. began mitt aitertlte Cit-i1 1|t"tt"nr. at part til I- Faca pimccdlgfiudt'fllhrpnlitialrnpcflcflindtwfial mtmwflmn'ican cqa'lalism dun-n; lltc'l'it'H-t'd til-gr, ta'c Lectn. “all. "hug-fem“ Tie lag-Ht all“ ital-trail em Hittite tlJthu-u. IIL tgflgt. Alumn- Daeitl Henge-Eng. lat-Iii tilt-airy: tel-tr cacti-thine! Meat. minaret-lg: th-tr 't'ut'L tgfiji. 3. Eccfitffitttfltjflr, MlmJfining. lit-Ille- Mugfllleliillfl. t!”- tare tTtacalt-t-ta. Mt” tmt in William J- tilt-tuner+ 'fle Enter-miter iii-[titan .nen Cardin. til}; :53: :flaltimut'e. It'tfifli: Wiliaca lt-‘t' Hair. flat-thali- and drama Pram: Initiate hiitin. My? 13m [Baton Range. Ig-fl}, tit-pit; tun: H. Amen. Th- MHWIIhrl-u ttttn- Tau-I. “Int, 11"”. fl. 'ltr'aan Wendi-I'm euc-t‘tlillh' lake-t. thin flew. arm that all“ the cellapt- ctl lndrprndcnl'lm ”inquiry Inn- alltratl nnhcanlcl'in Il'tc Sit-Ill" and that th- "1rg'utat hIHd haapflindul'pnitical MW me thflyilm. Pflllllfll than any inittlctng lit-tune." But he ahu tatcn Ila-emetic:- nl'die‘edw but man. See lih'i'flf if n.- .t'ra- Sarah 1!}; eyes {late-n lineage. Ilfil :. I35. :Ifl'j-fi and Term H-lhvfil'i Jig-Italia- Rel-Ii {New Tech, infill. 11 95. 1. J. Maegan Emmet. 'l'tlt M qt' Stat-line- With: Midge ill-mitten and tie multimedia- My nut. twig": nine Inem. tin-Ii. u-H: 'l’i'ilhtttn ttr. Eugen and Ill-I‘m David Ward. Algal flute-i3: jut-1' Tana-tr all lac-Ina ia Hal-ate :Ialnn Rum. 19333,, B] ”glam 'I'. Mm. Tun Path in .I'aej'efl- S-aal: Iat- Fulani-t- ”Emmyf “Ian 11!] flan-glen. High. I911“. 5.. Atlanta Lennie-ma. Nun-emitter I. I. tail-J; Wflll'arll'd. mien: all” He ..Illillr built. H5. GGHHGH RIGHT AND WHW'IH 1.1.3 implications were the mint far-reaching. For by renricfing entrance to uncncloaetl lands. the planters did not simply limit the freedrnen's abthy to hunt and fish. to obtain a portion of their cut-listener: independently; they also began a procesa of redefining uae rights. a procefi of enlarging absolute and exclusive property. While fee simple landowncrabip had always been the abiding principle. pre—Giril War custom and law turned unimproved acreage into “comment." The slave could not. tieoune. freely use the intern at hunting and tithing grounds, though individual planters. often pennitted it. But blacks understood local custom and expected that it would continue to govern aocial relations. il‘tlte Iihrs'tia they tnolt upon Emancipation are any indication. Poorer white: in the Black: Belt also held to their hunting privileges wi thgrcat tenacity. 1' In reeponae to the new omditiona of the putwar era. however. the elite subgiected such common rights to an increasingly withering attack. The fencing isaue. which emerged at a central feature of die attack. also saw comeryation. as well at agricultural improretnent. aenrc an jtntilicatiotn for curtailing uae righla. The antebellum practice ol enclosing crops and turning livectoclt out to forage long commanded nddupread support and worked to the apeeial advantage of small- holdere. tenants. and laborers. Duly in the Upper South did attempt: at reform make any headway prior to the war. and limited headway at that.“ After Ill-E5. tboogb. agitation won a cltncr hearing and soon a larger following. In Georgia and other state: of the Lower South. planter organizations. auch aa local and slate mlluthl aocietiet and the Grange. took the lead. Arguing that the “old habits" threatened the supply of timber. exacted undue cape-nae. and encouraged theft. they called for new laws requiring the {batting of stock rather than trope." And they received eager amirtance ftom railroad companies liable for damage: illooomotireaatruck animalastrayingon the tracks.flocm'ding to tbe preaidcnts of aereral Georgia railways. there disbursementa Ia. 1tI't'illiIra Elliott. Ear-hum town! the: Wighflmeyflefilvfirfiag. Wild-Eat. Deer. ladle! Hurt“. Hr. {New ‘I'urk. Iago]. a54—lio; Genoytae. Majrrdn. flail. aEE—oot Gukan Grilfljulunon. dealt-th- .ll'rrtlt Caracas: rl Heist Hint-y {Gluprl Hill. loan. sea-a5. I3. 5:: aha-c. Umpire I- I... Till-Helm; [I {June tfl}l].3ag-a+; ll (July I371}. 555; Memorial dimes-tube Bulge, Feline-ry- 1- tfl'n. Legislative ill-puma Pctitions. Record Group gylfierita u. GEM-l: Hahn. "Huang. Fiding. ma rem." Eflflhlflh' MEI-[1' AND mmmel-I 245. II Even before the enactment of lDEfllvfl-Ptlflll lit-.giitlatictot.I the fencing question dretutr the attention oi” Upeottntry Georgians. The prominent agricultural writer John Dent, who had spent his antebellum years on a plantation in the Alabama Black Belt before moving to Flu-yd County, tit-oh up the cudgels of agitation in tliyt. Directing,r his “remarks . . . chiefly to the up counties,” he nonetheless exprtased the scntimenta of planter penpenents in viewing the lane at. a means of sonating Entaneipation with commercial agriculture. "Der greatest trott'ole.“ Dent declared, “is Labor and Fencing.“ Shortly thueal’ier, as the mate assembly provided for county-level rel-"orm, others in the region added their voices. Ft mpoodent to the flatterstrille Steward and Erprets in [374, emphasizing the “harden" imposed upon farmers by the necessity of Fencing their crops, believed the stoelt law to he the “most important issue occupying the public mind.""' That correspondent exaggerated. For if the problem of fencing prompted the energies of men like Dem, who shared the concerns and immediate dilemmas of the planter class, it did not stir the “public mind" in the Lip-country through the add- tflyos. With market relatiore of production only taking shape and political alignments being refashioned in the region, rein'ormcrs still lacked the economic and political muscle to mount an assatdt on cantomary property rights. Local papers occasionally carried an article urging consideration of the stock law or reporting news of its pregreett elsewhere. Editors, who generally spolte [hr commercial interests, rarely made an eflhrt to agitate on the law’s hehall‘, however+ questioning instead its suitability to the UPCDUIIIIT.“ Indeed, not before the late tflyos and early 133m, when the threshold ol'the new order had been conned and Independentism had gone into HEP“. W 1 campaign launched. Epttrrod. in pan, by the deliber- ations of the state agricultural society. Upeounny landlords and "5qu to- Elateery: The New H'ltttry View] the Foetltellum South,” 11H. HLIII [Noe-ember tgyj].5ag-5+Ahoseeflcm. "Poet—Civil War Semhem harleoltureand me Lew," JIH', LII] [johnny 191-9], Ely—3.3L 1:} Th Phil-tile. [1 {December tfltll}. 155; Bonneville Shaded Ital EI‘IHI'JJ'hlul'l-E its,l Iflit- .— co. {kl-roll Bounty Hetehjaruary to, :33, February aa. tflyfl, June at. that flanemrille Wurlfltileetnjtneaq. tflygjeifl'rnm Fem .l'tl'ttnn1 September lg. time Gwlmett Hedi. Hat-eh IL tflyg. 246 rue more: or THE cot-Inn amttour merchants anun‘teei the mantle ol'rcfot'n‘t. halting tn cornulidate their control over the region's economy. Through county newspapers, litu‘nterts1 clubs, and associations linked to town and cctnttncrciai elements, they rnade the steel»: law a subject of public discussion anti. incn‘asingly. acrimonious tlehate. Following the course charted by the Queen. Assembly, they also provoked heated electoral content.“ Upceontry supporters of the steel: law lrurnprctnd the refrains of their counterparts in the lilac]: Belt. "Then- is etatsiderahle interest mani- li'ateei over the cflion now being matlc in seine sections nl'thc South, to abolish the old, unjust laws wherein. each farmer is compelled to Peace ltia fields; and to ctmtpel instead, the ownetn ol' stoclr. to confine them,“ the Jefl'crson Fem! News reported in IlivliinI adding that ‘heherctrer intelligence heunnes witleltr disseminatedI the inj ustiee and toll-f ofthe present law is recognized.“ Pointing tn the high cost and strenuous labor involved in fencing, the paper behest-ed it. “sad evidence nfolel fiigrisrn. general ignorance, and hackwardneatot'agrleulture . . . that such a law as lltat now in force can caist.“ flthcr proponents similarly styled the stock law a means of conservation and a requisite for agricultural “prugre-as." The-1r tell it “aheolutely necessaryr - . . to have such a lainr . . . from the [hot that timber is becoming scarce“ and the country overrun “with luscleatI scruhlsq.r steel-t." Sound reason de- mandcd fencing reform, they maintained. "for we have found that it taltes lass labor and less expense tn fence our stoclt than it. does our crops. . . ." Insistlng that the "law would greatl},r improve both nod: and land," they proclaimed tltat “we must learn to give way to tlte fittest1 For in}? so doing we 1will keep mongering?" European agricultural reliarntena said ntuch the same in favor of enclosures and the abolition of ootnmon rights to forage. woodlands, and waste: in America the arguments melded eomtlortahly with the dominant bourgeois currents of the late nitteteenth century. But such logic Failed to- win more than a scattering of acceptance among either the peasantries of Europe or the farming population of IIIlcorgia‘s Upcountry.“ However ntneh stock-law promoters claiInt-el to speait For at. Llatrellflountyr Tit-eatetrnflyoe. Ill-:3. March 3.. third-rho: Henley-September it}, tflB-g; Agricultural Club of Intent-r County, No. 5|. Ldinutu, tfliflg. GDAH. ss- Jellies-an Feet Hm. April :3. ratio: {here-lute: ads-m, April at. two; Can-ell [minty Tim, September I, 133:. Aha see-Jackson hie-ti. Mirth so. tdflg: [infill Illonntg.r Tit-tar. September El. tlillile. Mtgust 1.. Illie; flan-age Home anJnurI-Il. Flt-rd flmmyJanoirr t4. tfl-fl._iuhttt H. Dent Fasten. GUM-l- :3. atom, Ed ya.- on than, elite 3. -, Jam lilo-eh, eta-a floreth't-l'ey! .tu Err-gran re Bani: cheater (Berkeley. tgfifi}. Iflr-itlfi- Uflmflfl EIGHT AND WWII—AL“ 15] straying to deyour and trample down the cent." 'I'hese spokesmen Found the. open range a manilestatiott of“custottt" rather than “law.“ They acknowledged that “when the land belonged to the goeernmentit was tight for all to pasture" it, but once “the government tranderretl those lands to difl'erent individuals," HEIDI“: had the “right to trespaseton another man‘s land.” “Before a man buys a home, oow, or hog,” at Jackson Uounty advocate presctibnd, “he should have something to feed them on."“" Regarding timetyorn grazing practices as a custom dignified by little more than peculiar eireuttutanees and hardheadednest, supporters ol" the stock lastI elevated absolute property to a moral, ifnot. a natural, right. Dneeontemptuottsly dismissed eontmon foraging aa a “privilege“ or “Favor" bordering upon thel'l. “My neighbor has {legally} as much right to pasture my enelosed land as he has my unenelosed, as his stock . t . robs it of its vegetable matter . . . malting it putt-tater every day.“_]. M. Green offlarroll County held that the “idea of fencing a man 3's peususions against a. neighbor's stock is a creation of local statute, and contrary to natural rights, nature, and common sense," adding that the “border of a man's pensmion is the supposed wall that panteets them, and nobody has the right by himsellor his cattle to trespass upon them." Rejecting any obligation to "feed another man‘s stock," the rd‘ormera bloody proclaimed that Win-hat is mine 1 have aright todo as I please with and no man has a right to graze my land whether enclosed or not?“ Property, in. short, was amolute in the ian'liyidual+ its owoelahip mediated solely lay the marital. Smelt-law men may have eonaidered these arguments to he tell; eyident: others did not. dis a Paulding County relhrmer grudgingly observed, “It is true that it is unlawful for the stock of one man to trespass upon the domain of another, still the privilege has been in vogue so long . . . that to most men it would seem to he a species of tyranny to suddenly enforce the restraints of late." Indeed, opponenlaof “no fence" reserved their deepest. indignation for the legal and moral side of the question. Unfurling the banner of “equal rights, equal liberty, and equal privileges," of “equal rights to all and special 54- Jefirsoa th,fipsil ea, tflo; firm, ll lJuIy that}. aflHLJaelaan Herald, April 3. 1335. 5,5.- Jaohon Herald. May :1, 1331-, Gust-ll {lonely Thuluuary 5. this: (knoll fire Haas, May I], tss5. AbuseeJaelut-s HueHJaae ty. tflflt: Gniratett meld halter 3o, IHfltt; [hrroil County Ttmtjaae 1+ Ill-ill. 2512' THE Vflflm {IF THE MN EGflHDH‘I' privilege: ta nests," the-1..r elaborated a vision of the cooperative commonwealth and defended the claims nl' the community at PI‘IJdflC-Ifl'lt'" Etuekalaw opponents viewed let-cal custom, net as an ahen-aticm, but as an expression of natural right. “The wetals . . . were put here by ear Urcatctr Ear a benefit to his people," W. D. Lantern ul'CarToll llluunl},r declared, “a ltd l clun‘t think it righl tn deprive a large majority tn please a minority-“ Abner Nit-tun, another Earmll County Tanner, also invoiced higher authority in deienac of traditional gracing practices: "The citizens ni'll'lis enmity hear and always have had Ihe legal, Moral, and Bible right in let their sleek . . . run at large. We all knew Ibis-when we purchased can“ iaocls."“ ti. Gwinnetr. County spokesman, question. ing whether “a man has . . . [a] moral right to feed his stock on utlter'rt land,"I nonelhclcas accepted that “he has . . . a legal sight derived ii'tllt'l't cus loan to the range." Echoing these sentiments, “i"airpla‘y" oflaeltsen Dainty reckoned tltat ”Lair present system it an old one—so old that it would seem cruel to attempt an innetraLicrn upon it. From lung usage our people have become accustomed In it, and. any change in or alst'itlgtncnt of it will unqumtinnahly tent-it serious injury to a large number anur citizen-53“" The inrcc of custom stemmed fi'ttn't lltt' i‘tflllll‘iill-Itmu 1with an array ul" social relations and cultural norms thar the open range epitomized in a particularly compelling way. cinmme-n grazing was more than an expedient of frontier life: long before the times the I'mntier passed well beyond lthe Georgia Uncennlrf. Gammon grazing embodied distinct ideas about labor, community, independence. and the rule of [he sla te—abeut commonwealth. Ft Jackson Kitten-t3.r (Irrespnndent, there- fore, could satr that advocates of the steels law were “men who never split hut very few, ifauy. rails," and that hedid not “call a man a Fat tner until he tits-a keep his lieldtt fenced, and well I'cttceti at that." Such a distinction, heard upon the perf'nt'ntance of manual labor, Wt‘i‘l as at key element of ninctcnilhtccnttlr'f producer ideology, and its Meaning was deepened h}- a ennperatitre principle that challenged the tenets of heurgeeis individualism and property, that challenged the hegemony.' of the marketplace. “Li-1L." oI‘Gat-roll County made that clear in tench,r expressing what he saw as the abiding logic oftltc open range: “While 35. Pauldilg Met. Erl. dips-ii t9, Ill-EFL: Cane“ County Tiara. June at, Jliili. 3?. Far-toll Fm Press, June 5., iii-35. Jun-e “Elli. 133:... 3H. iii-urinate“ Hamid, UrIu-het tili, iii-Eh; jut-hull Hmtid.,[une 1?. lflflla GflHHflN IJDHT AND WWEALTH 353, my cowisotllttyneighbor'siand,cafinggrass,hisiscmntine. thatn'laltcs it all right."" looking to the state government as the protector of the public gmd, these rural liallt had nodoubt that common graaingrights received more than local sastctitat. A. Carroll County yeotnan farrner, wishing to h*oontrovert [the] proposition [that] ‘What is mine I havea right todoas 1 please with,”1 explained the Fundamental principles. “No man can deny that all the land of this ooumry was once common property, belonged toall the people of Georgia in common as public domain,“ he confidently stated, “all once had a perfect right to graze it in common. " “How or when did any of them loose [sic] that right?” he salted rhetorically, finding less than persuasive the argument “that they lost it in that game ofchattce called a lottery, when the drawee became the owner . . . to do as he pleased with.” "[T]he fence law was in force at that time and each drawee, ifhe raises crops on his land, was required to enelme it," the farmer reminded his audience. He believed this to he unmistakable proof that “it was understood that all citizens of this country still retained the rights to let theirstoclt run at large on all lands not so enclosed." find, in his eyes1 “as citizens of this grand old commonwealth . . . they still . . . have that FLIGHT?“ Doc landlord and stock-law supporter litlblly ascribed to such attitudes “the spirit of ootnrnunisrn fully displayed." Yet, opponents of the law hardly favored the abolition of private property. Lilte small producers elsewhere in the South and dtroughout the United States, they deemed property ownership the basis of freedom and indepens dence and assailed fencing reform precisely beeause it threatened expropriation. The fiery L. j._]ones lrnew what he was about when he urged "every roan [t...
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