In ?1854, only seven families lived? on the mostly empty sand-dune island now known as ?Atlantic? City .?? ?Just 60 years later, that same island was a rich, modern, sophisticated city with 51,000 year round residents and millions of summer visitors.
During those same 60 years America ?grew? from? a mostly rural country of 31 states and 23 million people to the strongest, wealthiest, and most advanced? industrial country in the world with 48 states and 92 million people.
From 1854 to 1914, most people in Atlantic City?and America –had an astonishing amount of personal and economic freedom.?? Government was simple, limited, and inexpensive.????? There were few laws, and most were simple enough to be understood by anyone with an eighth grade education.? ?In those days, laws were created to stop people from hurting, stealing from, or cheating each other.?? It was not the job of government to protect people from themselves, or determine who had too much or too little.?? There were abundant private charities to feed, house, and educate widow, orphans, the sick, the injured, and others unable to care for themselves.
Before 1914, there were no zoning or land use laws and few business restrictions.?? It was quick, easy, and inexpensive to buy a vacant lot and build on it?as long as it did not cause a ?nuisance? that disturbed neighbors.?? No government permits were needed to rent out rooms or serve meals for money in your dining room.?? ?It was quick, cheap, and easy to expand your home into hotels or restaurants, or build from scratch on a nearby vacant lot?and to fix or replace property damaged by fire or floods.?? There were no laws against liquor, tobacco, drugs, ?prostitution, or gambling.?? If people didn?t want to live near them, they could live in towns or neighborhoods where private deed restrictions or local laws prevented them.? (Ocean City was created for this purpose).
Anyone could use their auto as a taxi, or turn their truck into a jitney.? There were no sales or income taxes and property taxes? were low.? There were few lawyers and lawsuits, and insurance was inexpensive.??? People? kept most of what they earned and it was easy to save and invest.
Today, ?having such such limited government and so much personal freedom is unthinkable.??? But that was the America of the grandparents of today?s baby-boomers.?? That is the America that transferred ?wave after wave of penniless immigrants, destitute farmers, and freed black slaves and their children into prosperous home and business owners in less than ten years.
(For a detailed timeline of those first sixty years of Atlantic City, click:? ?(To be supplied–under construction)