|A Year of Indiana History - 2016|
Sales of federal lands were an important source of revenue for the young United States. Under the original Articles of Confederation, the national government had limited powers of taxation. One important aspect of the Northwest Ordinance of 1787 was that it allowed the Federal Government to sell Federal lands to the public. The revenue raised by sales of public land was an important source of revenue for the government.
Land in the Northwest Territory belonged to the Amerindian tribes collectively in the beginning of the Territory. As the natives ceded land to the United States via the various treaties it became the property of the Federal Government. As this land changed hands, it entered the public domain. Once in possession of the United States by treaty, it could then sell the land. The Land Ordinance of 1785 set up a standardized system of surveying the land for the region west of the Appalachian Mountains. To sell the land, Congress set up United States Land Offices.
United States Land Offices
The first land office that sold Federal land to the public in the current state of Indiana was the Land Office at Cincinnati, now in Ohio, in 1801. This Land Office sold land in what are now Dearborn, Fayette, and Franklin, Jay, Ohio, Randolph, Switzerland, Union and Wayne counties. The next Land Office opened in Vincennes in 1807. The Jeffersonville Land Office opened in 1808. Governor Harrison signed thirteen treaties that brought more than 60,000,000 acres of land from native Indian control to the United States. As the native tribes were forced from the state, land sales migrated northward. Central Indiana land sales opened at Brookville in 1825. A land office in Terre Haute handled sales in the west/central portion of the state. Fort Wayne's Land Office was established on May 8, 1823. It sold land in northern Indiana.
A Year of Indiana History - 2016
© Paul Wonning