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1986 U. Ill. L. Rev. 319 (1986)
Land and the Law: Problems in Legal Philosophy

handle is hein.journals/unilllr1986 and id is 329 raw text is: LAND AND THE LAW: PROBLEMS IN
Lynton Keith Caldwell*
The point of departure for this essay is a proposition that is hardly
novel: The philosophic problems relating to the rights and responsibili-
ties of land ownership are primarily problems of basic human values and
beliefs rather than problems of law. Legal efforts to protect the public
interest in land have met mixed results. Although local measures to reg-
ulate specific land uses, such as land use zoning, are widely employed,
readily available variances and a lack of real long-term planning fre-
quently frustrate them. Proposals for nation-wide land use laws have
generally failed. Even with substantial presidential and congressional
support, the proposed National Land Use Policy Act of 1970 and subse-
quent variations failed three times to gain adoption. One may legiti-
mately ask why the prospect of federal land use controls arouses such
strong opposition-often expressed with fervent emotion-when the gov-
ernment extensively regulates personal property transactions (such as
dealings in corporate securities).
The answer to this question lies in the persistence of memory; not in
personal or specific memories, but in a communal memory, a long-held
legacy from the American colonial era and even before. Although today
immigrants come to America seeking jobs, people seeking land first
populated the New World. In England and continental Europe, land
was the principal source of economic and political power and of social
status. Ordinary people were tenants of land, not owners. To people of
poor or modest means, free land in America meant personal freedom,
enhanced status in society, and opportunities for wealth. The less afflu-
ent were not alone in their desire to better their condition by acquiring
American land: wealthy merchants in London and landed gentry seek-
ing to enlarge their fortunes organized and promoted colonization
schemes for land development. In the West Indies and Southern colo-
nies, large landholders or plantations predominated. Elsewhere through-
out the colonies individual freeholds were the rule, and the number of
freeholders grew as settlers pushed westward from the seaboard.'
* Arthur F. Bentley Professor of Political Science, Emeritus and Professor of Public and Envi-
ronmental Affairs, Indiana University. Ph.B. 1935, University of Chicago; M.A. 1938, Harvard Uni-
versity Ph.D. 1943, University of Chicago; LL.D. (Hon.) 1977 Western Michigan University.

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