chapter  3
Inheritance and Equal Shares: Early American Views
ByJohn Cunliffe, Guido Erreygers
Pages 22

This chapter begins by considering a common and possibly shared background to the three writers, provided especially by the views of T. Jefferson and T. Paine. It focuses on Cornelius Blatchly's justification of an equal division of inherited property among all maturing individuals in each generation. The chapter also focuses on the more radical interpretations of the Jefferson–Paine legacy, demanding the complete abolition of individual inheritance and a strictly egalitarian redistribution of property. It deals with the much more radical proposal by Thomas Skidmore for both achieving and maintaining equal division of property among all adults. The chapter addresses Orestes Brownson's fascinating claim to have synthesized French Saint-Simonianism and the American spirit of equal opportunity. Brownson distanced himself from Skidmore's project "of introducing a better state of society by an equal division of property". The chapter assesses the intellectual provenance and coherence of the set of contributions.