Wednesday, June 11, 2008

200 pounds of tobacco

I've been reading a slim volume titled American Revolutionaries in the Making: Political Practices in Washington's Virginia. The title is almost as long as the book, but actually it's been quite interesting. I came across this passage in a chapter (The Vulgar Herd) talking about who could and who could not vote.
By law all freeholders were required to vote in elections. He who failed to vote in the county where he lived and owned property was subject to a penalty which was set in the year 1662 at 200 pounds of tobacco to be collected with costs by any informant.
Tobacco standing in for money is interesting enough, but the amount! With cash from that much tobacco today, you could buy yourself a halfway-decent used car.

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