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

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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.

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