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As the 18th century winds down, Fredericksburg contends with local and national issues. This is the last in a 13-part series.
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A large proportion of Fredericksburg's 288 lots were still untaxed. This was principally a consequence of quadrupling the town size in 1759, for in both of the additions, many lots had gone untaxed or even unpurchased. A clause in the 1759 legislation (evidently forgotten by later generations) had even exempted buyers from the requirement to build within six months.
Also, the owners of the 30 acres purchased from Henry Willis' estate in the 1740s had successfully resisted inclusion in the new boundaries drawn in 1759, with a special exemption passed by the assembly.
With Fredericksburg's incorporation in 1782, the council fell heir to these realities. Especially at the lower end of town, property owners had tracts that covered several acres.
The new perimeters established in the 1759 expansion authorized by the assembly had primarily generated profits for the landowners without any obligations for county services.
But now, the incorporated town of more than 1,000 residents was obligated by its charter to supply more services than the county had supported. And still more services would be needed to promote the welfare and safety of the citizens. The old way of doing things would no longer suffice to keep the leaky new ship of state afloat.
Perhaps the new blood on the council in the closing years of the 18th century perceived the nature of their problem. The early years of the 19th century would see the first fruits of their efforts.