Non settlers get title if they are not from somewhere else: Neil Canaday, Charles Reback, Kristin Stowe, ‘Race and Local Knowledge: New Evidence from the Southern Homestead Act’, The Review of Black Political Economy, 2015
Abstract: The Southern Homestead Act of 1866 was a large-scale effort by Congress to make land ownership accessible for recently freed slaves by opening 46 million acres of public land exclusively for homesteading. Using new micro-data from Louisiana, we examine the factors that led to successful homesteading. We compare homesteaders to the agricultural population, finding few differences other than wealth. A disproportionate percentage of homesteaders were white. We substantiate some of the claims put forth in the earlier literature, such as large amounts of fraud. Further, we present a more nuanced interpretation of a greater success rate for African-Americans. Being local or non-local had no meaningful impact on white success rates but had a large impact on African-Americans. Local African-Americans were more likely to obtain title to their land while non-local African-Americans were less likely to succeed. We hypothesize that regional knowledge, kinship networks, and white resistance to non-local African-Americans are possible explanations for this racial difference.
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