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The Rent War: Crusaders or Criminals?

An illustrated talk by Jill Knapp

Author of The Time for Redemption

Sunday, April 28 starting at 2 PM 

At The Roeliff Jansen Historical Society 

8 Miles Road, Copake Falls, N.Y.  DIRECTIONS

Even after the Revolutionary War, much of New York State’s Hudson Valley was owned by a few wealthy landowners; ‘Lords’ of their manors. Among the most powerful were the Livingstons and the Van Rensselaers. In this feudal leasehold system, the Lords rented parcels of land to tenant farmers, who continued to pay their rent in goods and services. In time, farmers began to wonder why they’d fought for self-government in the Revolution, only to remain under the yoke of European masters. The ensuing, and sometimes violent struggle between tenant and landlord became known as the Anti-Rent War.


On April 28th, Jill Knapp will discuss some key players involved ii the lengthy conflict waged in Columbia and Rensselaer Counties, including Big Thunder, aka Dr. Smith Boughton, the Fighting Finkle brothersand others, including her own great, great grandfather, William Witbeck. 

In the final analysis, was Anti-Rentism a battle for land reform - a crusade for a cause? Or was Anti-Rentism domestic terrorism, resulting from the failure of the legal system to resolve the issue of perpetual leases?

Were their actions justified? You be the judge.

Admission free. The Roeliff Jansen Historical Society, 8 Miles Road, N.Y. 

For more information: & follow our social media.

Lesley Doyel

PO Box 337

29 Farm Road 

Copake, NY 12516

Phone: 212 807 6303  - Cell: 646 373 7348. -  Email:

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