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U.S. History/feudalism in America


QUESTION: Hi Michael,

Just wanted to know whether there was a period of feudalism in America. Thanks.

ANSWER: Feudalism typically refers to the system of medieval Europe where military leaders controlled all the land.  People who worked the land generally had to give a percentage of their crops to their lord as well as support their lord with military service in times of war.  The general feudal system has existed in other parts of the world, but not really in America.  Some landed gentry attempted to reproduce the system on land grands they had received in America, but land was so plentiful and easily obtained that commoners were unwilling to take on a position of vassalage.  Instead, the economy quickly turned toward a system of chattel slavery in order to provide the necessary labor to the landed gentry.  So there really was no system of feudalism in America.

- Mike

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: thanks Mike for your helpful answer. but please
explain a bit the phrase "Some landed gentry attempted to reproduce the system on land grands they had received in America." how they had received that?

The King of England granted large tracts of land to favored people.  Some of these people attempted to establish large estates on their new land in the colonies.  However, they were unable to keep their fellow colonists landless and dependent on them.  The other colonists were able to obtain their own land or find other means of support.

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Michael Troy


I can answer just about any question on early American History. My specialties are the American Revolution through the Civil War/Reconstruction. I also have greater expertise in matters relating to military, political or legal history.


I have lectured at George Washington University regarding the Civil War, as well as several elementary school Civil War demonstrations. I was also a member of a Civil War reenactment group for about 10 years.


J.D. University of Michigan B.A. George Washington University

Awards and Honors
Truman Scholar

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