It is fitting, I think, that I start this series with a book that is focused on the idea of land measurement and how the practice shaped America.
Andro Linklater's work is a minor classic and a book that I feel should be read by every serious student of American history. Measuring America isn't really about the dry science of land measurement (although there is lots of discussion of that in this book), it is really about the revolutionary concept that the land belongs to The People and that the government simply holds that land in trust to ensure proper use and fair distribution.
The right to property, the ownership of property (land), and the protection and encouragement of those ownership rights is one of the concepts that made America unique. Nowhere else in the world could a poor man show up, purchase a piece of property for little or no money and have the legal system of the nation defend that individual's right to his land with the same vigor it defends the property rights of the rich man working the land right next door.
Linklater shows us that America's concept of land ownership and property rights truly gave substance to the creed that "all men are created equal".