The Journal of Economic History

Papers Presented at the Forty-fourth Annual Meeting of the Economic History Association

Wealth and Migration in Massachusetts and Maine: 1771–1798

John W. Adamsa1 and Alice Bee Kasakoffa1

a1 The authors are members of the Department of Anthropology, University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina 29208.


We use a genealogical data base to question the idea that the frontier was a “safety valve” for Americans in the years of the founding of the republic. Our findings about the relative wealth of members of nine families show how the frontier affected their migration patterns. We find that it was the middle class, not the poor, who seemed to make best use of the opportunity of the frontier.