Race and Property After the Civil War: Creating the Right to Exclude
64 Pages Posted: 21 Feb 2019 Last revised: 27 Mar 2019
Date Written: December 15, 2018
This Article uncovers a lost history of property, showing the role that race and white supremacy played in the development of modern trespass law. Property law does not change in response to economic opportunities, evolving to ever-more efficiency. Instead, property law reflects political power. At times, the political process may reorient property law to produce a larger surplus. Oftentimes, politics produce redistribution from the weak to the powerful. States closed the range to coerce blacks into working for white landowners for low wages and under bad conditions. Southern society as a whole suffered from the planter’s greed. Low wages and cruel laws impoverished not only black and white sharecroppers, but the entire region. Changing property law was a core element of the program of legal aggression that began with the black codes and continued with Jim Crow.
Keywords: Reconstruction, Open Range, Closed Range, Trespass
JEL Classification: K11, N91
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation