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[147] they have bought up are either abandoned or worked on shares or let out at a low rent, rarely being occupied by the original farmers. The tendency is to substitute for the original freehold system what is practically a tenantry, with a group remaining in the village of what were once farming families, but who now obtain, by trade with the “city people,” or work done for them, a better living than the farms ever yielded. All this is not the result of any tyranny or mortgage-grasping, but of simple purchase and transfer acceptable to all classes; there is the best of feeling, but it points to a vast and far-reaching change of tenure. Nothing apparently can sustain what is called in Europe “peasant proprietorship” except those iron laws which in France subdivide the inheritence of real estate into as many strips as there are children in a household — a method that would be utterly intolerable to the American mind. The upshot of it all is, that while our Constitution and general laws are secure, our social structure is still fluid and changing before our eyes, and our wisest advisers cannot yet tell us just what is to be the outcome. The impending changes imply some evil, and yet it seems altogether likely that they will at last take some form that will make for good.


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