ANTI-RENTERS, The (IN U. S. HISTORY). Large portions of Columbia, Renssalaer, Greene, Delaware, and Albany counties, in the state of New York, belonged to manors, the original grants of which were made to "patroons" by the Dutch company, and renewed by James II., the principal being Renssalaerswyck and Livingston manor. The tenants had deeds for their farms, but paid annual rental in kind, instead of a principal sum. This arrangement caused growing dissatisfaction among the tenants after 1790. When Stephen Van Renssalaer, who had allowed much of the rent to remain in arrears, died in 1839, the tenants, who longed to become real land owners, made common cause against his successor, refused to pay rent, disguised themselves as "Injuns," and began a reign of terror, which for ten years, practically suspended the operations of law and the payment of rent throughout the district. An attempt to serve process by militia aid, known as the "Helderberg war," was unsuccessful. In 1847 and 1849 the anti-renters "adopted" a part of each party state ticket, and thus showed a voting strength of about 5,000. This was not to be disregarded in a closely divided state, and in 1850 the legislature directed the attorney general to bring suit against Harmon Livingston, to try title. The suit was decided in Livingston's favor, in November, 1850, but both parties were then ready to compromise, the owners by selling the farms at fair rates, and the tenants by paying for them. Most of Renssalaerswyck was sold, and of the Livingston manor, which at one time contained 162,000 acres of choice farming land, very little now remains in the possession of the family.
—See Jay Gould's History of Delaware County N. Y., and authorities under NEW YORK; Mrs. Willard's Last Leaves of American History, 16-18; Jenkins' Life of Silas Wright, 179-226; Cooper's Littlepage Tales.