Land Act of 1820 (Great Events from History: North American Series)
Article abstract: The basis for transferring the public domain to individual U.S. citizens for the next two decades.
Summary of Event
The British colonies in North America had been, from the beginning, colonies of settlement. By the time of the Revolutionary War, most of the good agricultural land in the original thirteen colonies had been turned into farms by the settlers, and many were anxious to move west of the Alleghenies, to the area later known as the Old Northwest. The British, in order to ensure the friendship of the natives in that section, had forbidden settlement. With British defeat in the Revolutionary War, the area now belonged to the thirteen colonies, where the pressure to open it to settlement was overwhelming.
In 1785, the Confederation Congress first began deliberations about how to arrange the transfer of land in the Old Northwest, as well as those portions of the Old Southwest, acquired by the 1783 Treaty of Paris with Britain. Several principles were agreed on: Before settlement and transfer of title, the land would have to be ceded by treaty with the Native Americans; the land would have to be surveyed, in square township units, and sale would be by portions of the surveyed townships; and the proceeds of the sale would be used to pay down the federal debt. These principles were embodied in the Ordinance of 1785, which continued to bind the federal government after the adoption of the...
(The entire section is 1198 words.)
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