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tion and providing homes." Legislation to carry into effect the powers conferred upon the State was enacted in 1917 and 1918.20

Both in the Constitutional amendment and in the subsequent laws there is a provision that no land shall be sold by the State at less than cost.

The Homestead Commission of the Commonwealth only asked for money enough for a "single experiment or demonstration, to learn whether it is financially possible to supply

.. homes for workers. "21

North Dakota has also made provision for housing relief by direct governmental action.22

The subsidizing plan, in one form or another, has been adopted in England, 23 Canada,24 New South Wales, 25 Queensland,26 South Australia, 27 Victoria, 28 Western Australia,29 New Zealand, 30 Wisconsin, 31 and South Dakota. 32

Exemption of new structures from taxation has been adopted in New York, 33 and New Jersey 34

20 Laws of Mass. 1917, Chap. 310, and amended in 1918, Chap. 204. 31 See Illinois Constitutional Convention Bulletin No. 14, printed in 1919. 22 North Dakota, Laws of 1919, Ch. 150. 23 See supra, page 8.

24 Vol. 7, Am. Bar Assn. Jnl. No. 1, Act of Province of Ontario of May 6, 1913; see 14th Report of the Bureau of Labor of Province of Ontario for 1913. .

25 Savings Bank Amendment Act of 1913; Workers' Dwellings Act of 1912.

26 Advances for Homes Act of 1909 as amended in 1911 and 1912. 27 Advances for Homes Act of 1910 as amended in 1911 and 1912.

28 Savings Bank Act of 1890, as amended in 1896, 1900, 1901, 1903, 1910 and 1912.

2» Workers' Homes Act of 1911 as amended in 1912. 30 The Workers' Dwelling Act of 1910 and the State Advances Act of 1913. 31 Wisconsin Laws of 1919, Chap. 402. 32 South Dakota Constitution, Article XIII, as amended November, 1920, 33 New York Laws 1920, Chap. 949. " New Jersey Laws 1920, Chap. 355.

Laws regulating rentals and restricting the right to evict have been passed quite generally all over the world. 36

Commissions with regulatory powers over these matters have been created in South Africa, 36 New South Wales, 37 the District of Columbia, 38 and Wisconsin.39

36 Newfoundland—The Tenants' Act of June 5, 1919 (Chap. 10), New South Wales,-Act of Dec. 29, 1915 (Chap. 66) creating a "Fair Rents Court," New Zealand-Act of 10 Geo. V, 1919, No. 32, page 104. See Economic Review of May 26, 1920, page 60 and of July 9, 1920, page 205 and of Sept. 3, 1920, page 385. See also for details of legislation in foreign countries prior to 1914, U. S. Dept. of Labor Bulletin No. 158.

36 Laws of June 21, 1920. 37 Laws of 1915.

Ball Amendment to Saulsbury Act, October 22, 1919, 41 Stat. at Large, 298.

** Laws of Special Session, 1920, Ch. 16, effective June 9, 1920.


History of "Anti-rent Wars” in New York State Between

1840 and 1850.


Contrary, perhaps, to the general thought, emergency landlord and tenant legislation is not a novelty in New York. One who studies, even casually, the archives of eighty years ago, will speedily find new justification for the common saying that history repeats itself.

The historian recalls the years 1840 to 1850 as the period of the so-called “Anti-Rent Wars” in the northern part of this State. Vast tracts of lands in Albany, Columbia, Rensselaer, Genesee, Chautauqua, Delaware and Schoharie counties, had been accumulated in Colonial days and the first years of the Republic by a few individuals, who came to be generally known by the title "patroon.” The patroons in turn allotted the land to farmers to work, chiefly under a system of conditional deeds or of perpetual leases,-80-called "leases in fee,"—whereby many rights were reserved and duties exacted of the farmer-tenants.

These obligations were frequently of a nature prevalent in feudal England. They appear in many instances to have been light enough when first imposed, but changes in conditions made them very onerous and oppressive, particularly because practically all the leases provided that the patroon might re-enter and take possession of the property, with all the improvements that the tenant may have made upon it, in the event of default in any term of the lease, no matter how minor. In addition, most of the leases provided that the

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patroon should get as a “fine" one-quarter or other stipulated fraction of the price in the event the tenant sold his leasehold. These exactions, known as “quarter-sales," "tenth-sales," or the like, caused the greatest complaint and dissatisfaction. Moreover, the law then gave the landlord the right of “distress,” to take and sell the possessions of a tenant in satisfaction of arrears.

The original patroons, of whom Stephen Van Rensselaer is perhaps the best known, were genial men who often let their tenants fall into long arrears without taking action. But their heirs were harsher in their methods, and from 1836 on we read of attacks upon and destruction of land offices in the northern counties and organized opposition to sheriffs and others who attempted to serve legal process in behalf of the patroons. Armed posses, military companies and militia were called out in 1840 to sustain the sheriff of Albany County, and fifteen to eighteen hundred tenants and their sympathizers gathered to oppose them. Bloodshed was narrowly averted on this occasion; but in succeeding years there were riots and violence, with resultant bloodshed, loss of life, and imprisonment for many who were convicted of participation in the disorders. The messages of Governors William H. Seward in 1840, Silas Wright in 1845, and John Young in 1846 give graphic accounts of these disturbances.

The tenants endeavored to improve their situation by legislation as well as by resistance to authority, and in this aspect their activity and its consequences bear striking resemblance to events in Albany in the spring of 1920. History records that

1 “Messages from the Governors,” edited by Charles S. Lincoln, Vol. IV, pp. 774-776, 822–841; Vol. V, pp. 139–150; History of New York, by Ellis H. Roberts, Vol. II, p. 629.

"the legislature of 1845 was flooded with petitions from the representatives of the tenants, who appeared before a committee of the assembly, of which Samuel J. Tilden was Chairman." 2

The same history tells us that

“The attempts .. to enforce the harsh covenants and conditions of leases, which would have resulted in evicting great numbers of the yeomanry from their homes, brought the anti-rent controversy to a head. ...

“As has so often happened in history, while one side was within its strict legal rights, an overwhelming public sentiment was opposed to its assertion of them."


Substitute the year 1920 for 1845, the name of Senator Charles C. Lockwood for that of Samuel J. Tilden (later Governor), and "tenants” for the archaic "yeomanry,” and the foregoing quotations aptly describe events of last year.

There were political and legislative consequences to the foregoing events. Governor Wright had strictly enforced the law, as he was bound to do. The“anti-renters," as the tenants came to be known, in 1846, supported John Young for the governorship, and he was elected. The legislature in the same year passed statutes abolishing distress for rent, and heavily taxing as personal property the rents receivable under leases of over twenty-one years' duration, * so as to discourage long-term leases and promote absolute conveyances of land. To make assurance doubly sure, a Constitutional Convention was convoked the same year and four sections written into the State's fundamental law, whereby all feudal tenures were abolished, reservations in conveyances prohib

? "Legal and Judicial History of New York” (1911), Vol. II, by J. Hampden Dougherty, p. 164.

*L. 1848, Ch. 274. •L. 1846, Ch. 327.

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