Marketing the Frontier in the Northwest Territory

Land Sales, Soils and the Settling of the Great Lakes Region in the 19th Century

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About the Book

Combining narrative history with data-rich social and economic analysis, this new institutional economics study examines the failure of frontier farms in the antebellum Northwest Territory, where legislatively-created imperfect markets and poor surveying resulted in massive investment losses for both individual farmers and the national economy. The history of farming and spatial settlement patterns in the Great Lakes region is described, with specific focus on the State of Michigan viewed through a case study of Midland County. Inter and intra-state differences in soil endowments, public and private promoters of site-specific investment opportunities, time trends in settled populations and the experiences of individual investors are covered in detail.

About the Author(s)

After two decades of social science research and teaching at Columbia University, UC-Berkeley, The Chinese University of Hong Kong and Florida State University, Robert E. Mitchell entered the Foreign Service with long-term postings in the Near East and Africa. Since his retirement in 1995, he has authored a half dozen non-fiction books and many new social and economic history articles. He lives in Brookline, Massachusetts.

Bibliographic Details

Robert E. Mitchell
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 252
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2020
pISBN: 978-1-4766-8067-5
eISBN: 978-1-4766-3906-2
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments v
Preface 1
Introduction 4
Geographic Level 1: A National Overview
1. The Invented Markets for Land on the Frontier 22
Geographic Level 2: The Old Northwest Territory
2. The Five States of the Old Northwest 38
Geographic Level 3: Michigan’s Lower Peninsula
3. The Privatization of Land in the State of Michigan 66
4. Soils and Settlements in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula Counties 93
5. Rates of Return on Investments in Farming 112
Geographic Level 4: One ­Multi-Soils County
6. Moving from Macro to ­Micro-Level History 140
7. The County’s Physical Geography 143
8. The Market and Privatization of Land in a ­Case-Study Frontier County 156
9. Those Who Farmed or Left Their Soils 171
Summary, Overview and Next Steps
10. Looking Back 192
Chapter Notes 203
Works Cited 231
Index 243