The history and evolution of land ownership is a fascinating chronicle in the history of civilization, offering unexpected insights about how various forms of democracy and capitalism developed, as well as a revealing analysis of a future where the Earth must sustain nine billion lives. Seen through the eyes of remarkable individuals - Chinese emperors; German peasants; the 17th century English surveyor William Petty, who first saw the connection between private property and free-market capitalism.
Using the same blend of narrative and rhetorical brilliance that made his critically acclaimed debut history so successful, Andro Linklater begins with premier U.S. surveyor Andrew Ellicott calculating the Pennsylvania-Virginia border in 1784 - using telescope, chronograph, and astronomical tables. As pioneers move westward, Ellicott and his kind create property which hastens the formation of stabilizing government.
How we ultimately gained the American Customary System, the last traditional system in the world, and how Gunter's chain indelibly imprinted its dimensions on the land, on cities, and on our culture from coast to coast is both an exciting human and intellectual drama and one of the great untold stories in American history. Sagely argued and beautifully written, Measuring America offers readers nothing less than the opportunity to see America's history, and our democracy, in a brilliant new light.
For almost two decades, through the War of 1812, James Wilkinson was the senior general in the United States Army. Amazingly, he was also Agent 13 in the Spanish secret service at a time when Spain's empire dominated North America. Wilkinson's audacious career as a double agent is all the more remarkable because it was an open secret, circulated regularly in newspapers and pamphlets. His saga illuminates just how fragile and vulnerable the young republic was.
On the afternoon of May 11, 1812, Spencer Perceval, the all-powerful prime minister of Great Britain, was fatally shot at short range in the lobby of Parliament by John Bellingham, a Liverpool businessman. Perceval polarized public opinion: Revered by some and hated by others for his fight against the lucrative slave trade, he domineeringly kept Britain at war against Napoléon and was driving her into war with the United States despite the huge economic drain of each, raising taxes to new heights to finance his decisions.
"A great insight to political greed and obstinacy"