The settlement of Tennessee and Kentucky in the decades before and after statehood can be thought of as displaying great inequality. Large tracts owned by nonresidents contrasted with those of rather uniform size held by resident settlers. The fact, however, that at least a minor portion of settlers were tenants can distort this view. The very presence of the poor leads to the suspicion that relative inequality among settlers may have been rather great, whether or not unoccupied holdings of nonresidents are considered. A clear understanding of the concept of a proper statistical distribution of holdings and a study of the available evidence can add meaning to land settlement at the end of the eighteenth century.
Social Science History