The Right to Exclude after Emancipation: A Quantitative Study
University of Maryland - Francis King Carey School of Law
January 16, 2012
During the nineteenth century, the landowner’s right to exclude expanded while the public’s rights contracted. Landowners gained the right to exclude roaming livestock and wandering hunters with the closing of the open range. Two explanations are possible for the change in property rights. Greater autonomy allows private owners to make more efficient use of their land. On the other hand, the right to exclude changes property owners' bargaining position and enables them to extract economic rents from non-owners. Empirical validation for either proposition is limited since only a handful of studies have examined the closing of the range.
This Article examines the closing of the range and restrictions on hunting in the postwar South using previously unexamined data. In the South, the first counties to close were those with the largest black populations. If the range remained open, blacks could graze their animals, hunt, fish, and forage on the open range; if the range were closed, blacks would have no alternative to sharecropping. Preliminary results suggest that labor control, not economic efficiency, motivated the closing of the range.
Keywords: Reconstruction, open range, closed range, sharecropper
JEL Classification: J43, K11, N41, N51working papers series
Date posted: January 16, 2012 ; Last revised: December 10, 2012
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