By Matthew Kredell
In the early history of the United States, settlers moved west into unsurveyed land and built homes and farms without regard to land title.
As the country expanded, one of the federal government’s chief means of acquiring revenue was the sale of public land. When the government put land up for auction, frontier settlers were at risk of losing their homes or farms.
New paper published: “Distributive politics and congressional voting: public lands reform in the Jacksonian era” by Sean Gailmard, Jeffery A. Jenkins
During the 1830s, Congress passed a series of laws reforming U.S. policy on acquiring public lands. These laws established a federal land policy of preemption, under which squatters on public land obtained legal title to it in exchange for payment of a minimum (and low) price per acre. Preemption significantly liberalized the terms of land ownership in the U.S. We analyze roll call voting on the preemption acts in Congress from a distributive politics perspective …