Saturday, January 09, 2016

This Land is Made for You and Me

From a Politico article entitled Sorry, Ranchers, You’re Actually Big-Time Government Moochers:
[L]egislation granting statehood to other territories in the 19th and 20th centuries—stipulates that its Legislature “forever disclaim all right and title to the unappropriated public lands.” In fact, the land that these ranchers call their own belongs to the entire country—to school teachers in New York and shipbuilders in Virginia as much as to ranchers in Oregon.

What’s more, the West has historically been a beneficiary of the U.S. government, not a victim. You won’t hear any of this from Bundy or from elected officials who mimic his argument, if not his lawlessness.

The real story is one of a niche interest group (ranchers and their allies) that feels entitled to a federal handout—potentially one of the largest in American history—at the expense of residents of East Coast, Midwest and Southeast states.

...From the Louisiana Purchase of 1803 and the Oregon Treaty of 1846, to the Mexican Cession (1848), Gadsden Purchase (1853) and Alaska Purchase (aka Seward’s Folly, 1867), the vast majority of federal lands were paid for by the blood, tax dollars, deeds and misdeeds of residents of all the United States.

In fact, the only meaningful swath of territory the federal government obtained directly from states was roughly 233 million acres that New York, Virginia, Massachusetts and Connecticut agreed to cede to Congress. Congress, in turn, created the Northwest Territory, out of which it later carved out today’s Midwestern states. (New York and Virginia to Ohio and Illinois: you’re welcome.).


jeff hays said...

Just curious Patrick, since the constitution states the only land to be held federally is 10 square miles for the capitol and needed forts ,ports etc. Should not have all the land purchased and won in conflicts not then be turned over to state control when statehood was granted to the various territories? Just curious on your take on that.
I am not saying these Mormon nut jobs have anything real in their web of conspiracy, just wondering your take on constitutional aspect of federal ownership of some 50% of America.

PBurns said...

The governing section of the Constitution is the Property Clause. The law here is well developed not subject to debate as it has been upheld by Congress, Presidents, and courts for over 200 years. Light v. United States (1911) is one important case. See

PipedreamFarm said...

These are good overviews of the history of fed lands and the tensions with ranchers.;_ylt=AwrC1CjwjZNWuTAAhijQtDMD;_ylu=X3oDMTByOHZyb21tBGNvbG8DYmYxBHBvcwMxBHZ0aWQDBHNlYwNzcg--