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Contribution to Book
Land Ordinances
  • Alexander J Field, Santa Clara University
Document Type
Book Chapter
Publication Date
Oxford University Press

As European influence extended across the oceans, all regions of recent settlement faced the challenge of devising means for distributing, by sale, lease, or grant, lands originally held or used by aboriginal populations, and at the same time defining the political relationship between the frontier and the existing states. One of the most sweeping instances of legislation addressing this issue took place in the early years of the United States where, in exchange for the cession of claims on western lands by the original thirteen states, the federal government under the Articles of Confederation agreed to convert the public domain into private holdings as quickly as possible.

Chapter of
Oxford Encyclopedia of Economic History
Joel Mokyr

This material was originally published in Oxford Encyclopedia of Economic History edited by Joel Mokyr, and has been reproduced by permission of Oxford University Press. For permission to reuse this material, please visit

Citation Information
Field, Alexander J. 2003. “Land Ordinances”, in Oxford Encyclopedia of Economic History, ed. Joel Mokyr (Oxford: Oxford University Press), v. 3, pp. 270-71.