Hispano land grant transfer - adjudication and activism-1

Hispano land grant transfer - adjudication and activism-1 -...

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adjudication and activism F’09 Hispanos owned millions of acres in northern New Mexico in common and private property when the United States conquered northern Mexico in 1848. During the ensuing decades, in the context of the commercial revolution and colonial domination of northern New Mexico, much of this land was transferred to European Americans (Anglos) through a variety of means - including market forces, partitioning common grants and federal seizure, all in a context of chicanery and corruption. These were outlined in lecture and are described in some detail by DuBuys in his chapter entitled ‘Fraction of Justice.’ Grant partitioning typically occurred when Hispano villagers who owned private land in a village with rights to the commons attached to the private property deed wished to sell it to a European American land speculator or rancher. The Hispano villager or the Anglos who bought land from him would petition the Office of the Surveyor General or Court of Public Land Claims to partition the commons into a form of private property that was recognized in the Anglo legal tradition. If the title claim in the petition was confirmed, the courts would order that the land be surveyed and legally divided into equal shares between all Hispano title holders in the village. Many villagers never knew this had happened and were unaware that the commons had been privatized. They were then often tricked into selling what previously been common land to private speculators. In many cases, this led to court cases. Ironically, the lawyers hired by villagers to fight partition often got a sizeable portion of the grant as payment. Some common property land was seized by the federal government under the theory that the Spanish and Mexican governments had retained not only sovereignty, but title to the land, which passed title to the U.S. government in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. Much of this land was bought from the government by speculators, who cut timber, grazed sheep and cattle, and otherwise ‘mined’ resources for short-term profits. Once these lands were no longer productive, many speculators either sold them back to the federal government or forfeited possession as payment in lieu of taxes. In either case, much of this land eventually became part of the Santa Fe and Carson National Forests. 1
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This note was uploaded on 11/03/2010 for the course ESPM 50AC taught by Professor Spreyer during the Spring '09 term at University of California, Berkeley.

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Hispano land grant transfer - adjudication and activism-1 -...

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