The Journal of Economic History

Papers Presented at the Thirty-second Annual Meeting of the Economic History Association

Property Law, Expropriation, and Resource Allocation by Government: the United States, 1789–1910

Harry N. Scheibera1

a1 University of California, San Diego

Expropriation of private property by government is seldom found on the list of policies which have influenced the course of economic development in American history. To be sure, the once-vigorous myth of antebellum laisser-faire has been discarded; and it is no longer taken as a startling proposition that governmental interventions to promote and regulate the economy occurred regularly throughout the nineteenth century. But for two reasons, I think, expropriation as an instrument of conscious resource allocation has failed to receive from historians the attention it deserves.