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Founding ChoicesAmerican Economic Policy in the 1790s$
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Douglas A. Irwin and Richard Sylla

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780226384740

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: February 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226384764.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 17 September 2021

U.S. Land Policy

U.S. Land Policy

Founding Choices and Outcomes, 1781–1802

(p.259) 8 U.S. Land Policy
Founding Choices

Farley Grubb

University of Chicago Press

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

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