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Michael S. Coffman, Ph.D

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FW:  5-9-17

May 17, 2014

Original Intent

For days following April 8, hundreds of well-armed Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and even hundreds more partially-armed Bundy supporters stood toe-to-toe. Any spark could have caused another Waco. Finally, the BLM backed off, allegedly for safety reasons. Don’t believe it. There is a much bigger story here and the media is wrong on most counts.

Most Americans have no idea that over 50 percent of the Western U.S. is owned or controlled by the federal or state governments. This creates a feudal relationship between an all-powerful government and the local landowners who must use the adjacent federal land to make a living. As with the feudal governments in Europe during the middle-ages, the land is managed for the benefit of the government, not the landowner, using a dangerous ideology called Sustainable Development. Produced by Environmental Perspectives, Inc., Bangor, ME 04401

MOST AMERICAN’S WHO LIVE EAST OF THE ROCKY MOUNTAINS, or those who live in large urban/suburban areas in the West, are surprised to learn that the federal government owns or controls over 30 percent of the land area in the United States. Most of that land is in the Western States where over 50 percent of the state is federal “public land.” Rural residents that make their living from federal lands are finding that Washington is enacting regulations that seem more intent on bankrupting them than helping them. An uninformedpopula¬tion in the East is complicit by default.

The closest form of governmentwhere the federal government dominatesthe lives of those people using federal land is feudalism/manorialism.[1] This is a form of government whereby an all-powerful land owner, usually royalty, rents his land with restrictions and with the condition of receiving a portion of the crops or other services from the renter. Today the federal government replaces the king as the landlord. This new king serves Washington special inter¬ests, usu¬ally environ¬mentalist and inter¬national dictates, which are con¬trary to the interests of the local rancher or land user. Too often they are also contrary to actual environ¬mental health.

To understand what has happened and is happening with the Bundy Ranch it is mandatory to understand the history of American expansion westward. It may be boring for some, but unless the history is understood, numerous false assumptions and conclusions will be made. The media and bloggers have done far more harm than good in their analyses.

As with almost everything else that has been twisted from original intent, the Founders never intended there should be large federal landownership. When they wrote the U.S. Constitution, feudalism and manorialism still existed in France. Our Founders were eye-witnesses to the brutal treatment of the peasants under such a system. In 1783 Thomas Jefferson even went so far as to insist that all federal land should be sold as quickly as possible and, “shall never after, in any case, revert to the United States.”

To ensure that the federal govern¬ment never amassed large land holdings, our Founders allow¬ed only three forms of federal land own¬ership and jurisdic¬tion in Article I Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution: "To establish Post Offices and post Roads;" "To exercise exclusive Legislation…, over such District [of Columbia](not to exceed ten Miles square);"… " and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State…for the Erec¬tion of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, Dock Yards, and other needful buildings." (Italics added)

With these constitutional constraints, how did the federal government wind up with more than 50 percent of the land in every state west of the Rocky Mountains? Why not the East as well? Most important, what does it have to do with the Bundy ranch?Everything.

Map of the states and territories of the United States as it was from August 1780 to 1790. On August 7 1789 the Northwest Territory was organized. On May 26 1790, the Territory South of the Ohio River was organized.Made by Golbez. Used under the GNU Free Documentation License

Original Intent

The individual states were so fearful of an all-powerful central government that they essentially gave no power to the federal government under the Articles of Confeder¬ation. The failure of the Articles led to its replacement by the U.S. Constitution of the United States in 1787. The chief failure of the Articles was, as George Washington put it so succinctly, “no money.” The federal government was deeply in debt following the Revolutionary War, but had no way under the Articles to repay0isrdk4qutmcmd=(noting useless paper qrk6; __ut had no value.

To pay the debt, the states eventually ceded their state land to the federal government in a trust. The trust limited its use to that of repaying the debt. Virginia’s 1783 “Cession of Western Lands to the United States” was the first to do so. The Act stated “…that the territory so ceded shall be…formed into states,…and the States so formed shall be distinct republican States, and admitted members of the Federal Union, having the same rights of sovereignty, freedom, and independence as other States….” (Italics added) This was known as the “Equal Footing Doctrine,” whereby every state entered statehood on an equal footing with all states already existing.

The Equal Footinuch bigger was formalized for the entire U.S. with the passage of the Northwest Ordinance in 1787, but only after the federal government sold the land to pay down the debt by stipulating that new states “in no case, shall interfere with the primary disposal of the soil by the united States in Congress assembled.” It also stipulated “that no tax shall be imposed on lands on the property of the United States.” However, once the population reached 60,000 people, each new state would be admitted on an “equal footing with the original States, in all respects whatever.” Thisextended:

“the fundamental principles of civil and religious liberty, which form the basis whereon these republics, their laws and constitutions are erected; to fix and establish those principles as the basis of all laws, constitutions, and governments, which forever hereafter shall be formed in the said territory: to provide also for the establishment of States, and permanent government therein, and for their admission to a share in the federal councils on an equal footing with the original States…” lands are finding>

is enactityle="font-size:12px;">Notice that it was passed as a basic human right, not to be altered by any future legislation. Yet, it was totally ignor¬ed in the creation of states west of the Rocky Mountains. That fundamental right was codified in its entirety into the U.S. Constitution the same year. Federal lands within the territories were “trusts” that would be transferred to the state when it became a state. New states had to be given the same rights as the original statesonce they reached a population of 60,000 people. There is absolutely no Constitutional basis for “federal land ownership” on the scale of that found in the far West. None. This has a direct bearing on the Mundy Ranch case as will be discussed in Parts II and III.

The Northwest Ordinance also codified the principle that land ceded by the states would be used to pay the war debt and not held in perpetuity by the federal government. The Act also allowed the creation of the Northwest Terri¬tories, (now Oha and bloggers havois, Michigan, Wisconsin anharm than n of Minnesota) which was formally accomp¬lished in 1789.Historians consider the ordinance to be the most significant achievement under the Articles of Confederation. It set the form by which subsequent Western territories were created and later admitted into the Union as states.

Early Evolution of Land Law

Although it was fraught with controversy and power plays, all future states east of the Rocky Mountains did enter the federal Union over the next 100 years on a more or less equal footing. The federal government for the most part did not retain large blocks of land. Of the many things that happened during that period, the most notable are the Preemption Acts of 1830 and 1841, the