Virginia Magazine of History and Biography
Volume 118 / Number 2
"Michael Cresap and the Promulgation of Settler Land-Claiming Methods in the Backcountry, 1765–1774"
- Cameron B. Strang, pp. 106–35
Backcountry settlers in late colonial Virginia developed an informal yet efficient set of practices for claiming western lands. In the early 1770s, many elite land speculators and colonial officials began to employ settler land-claiming methods, such as corn rights, in their own efforts to profit from the West. This article traces this bottom-up change in Virginian land speculating and territorial expansion through Michael Cresap's interactions with Native Americans, elite Virginians, and colonial officials. Cresap was a renowned Indian killer and landjobber. His fusion of ad hoc settler land-claiming methods and racialized violence against Native Americans was a brutally effective means of possessing western lands. Cresap and his land-jobbing practices both presupposed and directly influenced how powerful Virginian land speculators vied for the backcountry during the final years of the colonial period.