Property Law as Labor Control in the Postbellum South

Brian Sawers

Emory University School of Law

November 12, 2011

After the Civil War, state legislatures criminalized trespass, restricted hunting and fishing, and closed the range. Earlier studies cannot agree whether these changes in property law were motivated by racism or inevitably resulted from economic progress. This Article presents a more complete picture of the South and reports evidence that legal change was motivated by labor control. Like other legal change in the postbellum South, planters sought new laws to coerce blacks into working for low wages and under poor conditions.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 27

Keywords: Reconstruction, open range, fence law, game laws, trespass

JEL Classification: J15, J43, K11, N41

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Date posted: November 13, 2011 ; Last revised: December 10, 2012

Suggested Citation

Sawers, Brian, Property Law as Labor Control in the Postbellum South (November 12, 2011). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1958692 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1958692

Contact Information

Brian Sawers (Contact Author)
Emory University School of Law ( email )
1301 Clifton Road
Atlanta, GA 30322
United States

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