Chapter

U.S. Land Policy

Farley Grubb

in Founding Choices

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print January 2011 | ISBN: 9780226384740
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226384764 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226384764.003.0009
U.S. Land Policy

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The U.S. government became “land rich” even before the Constitution when the original states with claims to land between them and the then-western border of the country, the Mississippi River, began to cede those claims to the national government. Under the Constitution, Congress opted to survey the lands and sell them gradually as the nation expanded and the population grew, and to pledge the revenue from future land sales to debt retirement via the sinking fund that Hamilton had created as a part of his financial reforms. The chapter estimates that at prevailing land prices, the federal government's holdings of land in 1790 had a value well in excess of national debt. Even if that value could not have been realized had the land been sold quickly, it served to give domestic and foreign creditors of the government confidence in its ability to honor its obligations in later years and decades.

Keywords: land rich; Constitution; revenue; national government; land sales; financial reforms

Chapter.  14979 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Economic History

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