Springfield Massachusetts Summary

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In his article, “Land Tenancy and Social Order in Springfield, Massachusetts, 1652 to 1702” (1978), Stephen Innes questions the existence of tenancy in the New England colonies as it did in England. He argues that, unlike the common notion of the prosperous effects of land in New England, not all towns in the settlements experienced economic and social growth. In Springfield, Massachusetts tenancy, economic difficulty, and socioeconomic divisions were prominent characteristics of the town. He states, “tenancy was both a consequence and a cause of economic inequality… Rather than evolving toward the one-class or middle-class social structure that historians have found in other early New England towns, Springfield become economically and socially…show more content…
First he begins by stating the common notion of land abundance in New England and how cities such as Andover and Dedham prospered due to land availability. Thus, he sets a platform to compare the circumstances of Springfield to other towns. He contrasts land abundance in Dedham, which allowed for eliminating renting and poverty, and Andover, which allowed for massive distribution of land, with land shortage in Springfield, which led to tenancy and consequently economic and social inequality (Innes, pp. 33-35). Once he established the difference between Springfield and other towns in New England, he begins his examination of the circumstances that led to the socioeconomic patterns present in the town and their…show more content…
35). This demonstrates that Springfield did not only suffer from shortage of land, but also unfertile land; therefore, allowing those who control the richest soil to dominate the town. Then he further explains John Pynchon political and economic authority, which led to his control over the town’s settlers (Innes, pp. 36). This illustrates that Pynchon’s authority over the most significant components of socioeconomic structures led to the dependence of many Springfield colonists on him. Furthermore, throughout his article, Innes relies significantly on statistical data from Pynchon’s account book, probate inventories, and tax lists in order to demonstrate Pynchon’s monopoly on landownership and the settlers’ dependence on him. For example, he includes the percentage of people who were indebt to Pynchon, the amount they owed, and the outcomes of their debt (Innes, pp. 36 – 56). Lastly, he lays out in detail the forms of tenants found in Pynchon’s account book and provides specific examples of each group, their socioeconomic conditions, their relationship to Pynchon, and the outcome of their debt (Innes, pp. 44 – 56). Innes presentation of his claims demonstrates

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