Title

Fighting over Fencing: Agricultural Reform and Antebellum Efforts to Close the Virginia Open Range

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2009

Abstract

ABSTRACT The article focuses on antebellum fencing and fence construction laws in Virginia. Virginia's lawmakers determined the need for a law governing fencing following the settlement of Jamestown, Virginia in 1607. A 1642 act clarified that without a sufficient fence, planters could claim no damages to their crops by wandering "hoggs, goats or cattle." One of the most common arguments made by farmers in favor of a stock fence law dealt with a growing shortage of timber suitable for fencing. Other topics include the influence of agricultural associations, slaveholders, and decreasing land values.