The Political Economy of the American Frontier

The Political Economy of the American Frontier

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This book offers an analytical explanation for the origins of and change in property institutions on the American frontier during the nineteenth century. Its scope is interdisciplinary, integrating insights from political science, economics, law and history. This book shows how claim clubs - informal governments established by squatters in each of the major frontier sectors of agriculture, mining, logging and ranching - substituted for the state as a source of private property institutions and how they changed the course of who received a legal title, and for what price, throughout the nineteenth century. Unlike existing analytical studies of the frontier that emphasize one or two sectors, this book considers all major sectors, as well as the relationship between informal and formal property institutions, while also proposing a novel theory of emergence and change in property institutions that provides a framework to interpret the complicated history of land laws in the United States.
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Product details

  • Electronic book text
  • Cambridge University Press (Virtual Publishing)
  • Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 17 tables
  • 1139094092
  • 9781139094092

Review quote

'In The Political Economy of the American Frontier, Ilia Murtazashvili provides a significant reinterpretation of US land policy in the nineteenth century. His detailed analysis of the role of claims clubs in lowering the price paid to purchase government land raises interesting questions about the reasons why the federal government chose not to maximize its revenue from land sales. Murtazashvili's arguments are based on considerable historical research, making an important contribution to the study of the impact of institutions and to understanding American economic and political history.' Stanley Engerman, John H. Munro Professor of Economics and Professor of History, University of Rochester, New York
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Table of contents

1. Introduction; Part I. The Origins of Property Institutions: 2. A theory of claim clubs; 3. From spontaneous order to conscious choice: claim clubs on the frontier; 4. Bandits within the state: an assessment of claim clubs as property institutions; Part II. Change in Property Institutions: 5. Claim clubs, distributive conflict, and the origins of squatters' rights; 6. The political economy of homesteads; 7. The open floodgate in the far West; 8. The influence of claim clubs in the States; 9. Conclusion.
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