Conquest by Law: How the Discovery of America Dispossessed by Lindsay G. Robertson

By Lindsay G. Robertson

In 1823, leader Justice John Marshall passed down a superb courtroom choice of huge significance in defining the rights of indigenous peoples during the English-speaking global. on the middle of the choice for Johnson v. M'Intosh was once a "discovery doctrine" that gave rights of possession to the ecu sovereigns who "discovered" the land and switched over the indigenous vendors into tenants. notwithstanding its which means and purpose has been fiercely disputed, greater than a hundred seventy five years later, this doctrine continues to be the legislation of the land. In 1991, whereas investigating the invention doctrine's old origins Lindsay Robertson made a startling locate; within the basement of a Pennsylvania furniture-maker, he came upon a trunk with the total company files of the Illinois and Wabash Land businesses, the plaintiffs in Johnson v. M'Intosh. Conquest by way of legislations offers, for the 1st time, the total and troubling account of the ecu "discovery" of the Americas. this can be a gripping story of political collusion, detailing how a spurious declare gave upward thrust to a doctrine--intended to be of restricted application--which itself gave upward push to an enormous displacement of individuals and the production of a legislation that governs indigenous humans and their lands to this present day.

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Additional info for Conquest by Law: How the Discovery of America Dispossessed Indigenous Peoples of Their Lands

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After the compromise vote, Virginia assumed Henderson’s title to the Cherokee lands, in effect retroactively designating him the state’s purchasing agent. The Cherokees would not be invited to reclaim their illegally purchased lands. The $, constituted Henderson’s commission for arranging the sale to Virginia of the Cherokee Nation’s Kentucky domain. News of the decision to compensate the Transylvania Company was all Murray and company needed to hear. 30 Recognizing the Illinois and Wabash claims would merely reduce the value of the claim Virginia planned to transfer to Congress.

14 In ordinary times, this would have been enough. In the spring of , however, the Empire was breaking apart, and among the earliest casualties of dissolution was clarity of jurisdiction. The colony of Virginia had a claim under its royal charter to the lands Murray had purchased from the Illinois Indians. 15 Dunmore, a year younger than Dartmouth, was sitting on a powder keg. Appointed Virginia’s governor in , he quickly came into conflict with the colony’s legislative assembly, which included many soon to be prominent revolutionaries, among them Thomas Jefferson and Patrick Henry.

69 Events now moved rapidly against the speculators. 70 Land offices were established at Vincennes and Kaskaskia to handle sales, and persons with claims to any land slotted for sale were given until January  to submit them to the land commissioners at these offices for decision. The land commissioners were directed to report their judgments to the secretary of the treasury, who would communicate them to Congress for acceptance or rejection. Disappointed claimants had no appeal to the federal courts.

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