Confiscation; an Outline

Author: William Greenwood


We will now apply the principle of Confiscation to land, and we will see that Confiscation alone can undo the wrong that has of late become apparent to even the law makers in Washington. Up to within three years or so there were two ways by which farming lands could be obtained from the Government - by homesteading and preempting.

It is unnecessary to give the laws of either, but so fast was this class of land going that Congress repealed the preemption law. In other words, the amount you could obtain was cut down one half - from 320 acres to 160. What was more significant still of their barn door work after the horse was gone, they made the owning of 160 acres, regardless from whom it was got, private purchase or Government, a bar to the taking up of Government farm land. Prior to the repeal every citizen, and those intending to become citizens, had certain land rights, and owning half a State did not impair them; which all goes to show that even this free and easy-going Government thought it about time to call a halt. But that was all it did do. As it was not necessary to give the laws under which the homesteader and preemptor got title, neither is it necessary to here ask how some men became owners of all the way from 1,000 to 60,000 acres, every acre of which was Government land years after California became a State. (We are using California facts. The rest of the Western part of the United States has an abundance of the same kind.) Suffice it to say, that they now own them; and suffice it too, that Confiscation is the only way by which we can dispossess them of plunder, that the welfare of the country demands should be returned? In Confiscation alone will the people find a servant who will not condone the past, but will follow up this breed of the grabber and restore what it finds, as it has already done with others of his tribe.

It will be the re-discovering of America.

Never did kind and beneficent laws show what men, with the right kind of stuff in them, could do, as did our land laws. Men who now own territory as large as some of the Eastern States started in without a dollar. They had something better. They had consciences that was good for any tests that the scoundrels could put them to. Never did gangs of "floaters" help the political boss and ward-heeler rob the public treasury with greater success than did this other brand of the bastard citizen help his boss to hog the public domain.

In the fertile valley of the Sacramento, land that would give one hundred and sixty acre homes to ten thousand families (fifty thousand people) is owned by one hundred individuals, all average of sixteen thousand acres to each owner. This is but a fraction of the valley and leaves out the owners of less than sixteen thousand acres.

In the great San Joaquin valley, the laborer in search of work can walk for days in one direction alongside of fencing that incloses land belonging to one firm. And this immense fortune-in land was obtained by robbery, just as the other millionaire fortunes were obtained.

In the land office we see the miserable tool and his master.

In the legislative halls we see the miserable tool and his master.

And we see the leaves on Liberty’s Tree droop and wither as these deadly borers do their work under the bark below.

Up among the peaks and valleys of the Sierra Nevada lies the town of Mariposa, settled by gold seekers whose rich findings gave world wide fame to this hamlet among the mountains. Aluvial gold and quartz bearing gold was scattered with lavish hand through the surrounding hills, and in the beds of the summer-dried streams. Generous laws of their own making, gave ample room, and the eager workers toiled on, forgetting the past hardships of the long journey where so many fell by the way, and the rugged hills became endeared to them as they marked out the shaded spots on their shelving sides where their coming dear ones could look down on the busy scene below. But the camp follower with ready knife never finished the wounded brave quicker than did the "land grant" swindler finish Mariposa when her riches became the theme of every gold camp throughout the world. And to-day the big hearted and stalwart miner goes to fever-laden Africa and ice-bound Alaska, when there are whole mountains of the best mineral bearing land in the world in his own country, but which our present laws forbid him to touch.

Our people should no more bow to a Mexican land grant title than to a superstition of their cave-dwelling ancestors.

What matters it, however, in what way these colossal robberies were committed; by coffee-stained lie from Mexico, or perjured oath of faithless citizen; it has been done, and it is time for the undoing.

Man developed the school house, and for this each is indebted to the other, and the mutual debt is acknowledged by making the school free to all.

The Creator developed the Earth from chaos to the habitable home of man, free to all, but this debt is not acknowledged, and the many are driven into the highway by the few.

Give us all the conveniences of modern life, railroads, telegraphs, etc., etc., etc., but give us back the land, that is our natural heritage as much as is the water we drink or the air we breath.

Give us back this birthright, or take your railroads, and so on, and your civilization, and sink them deep in the depths of hell, for the starving have no use for them, and we’ll take the savage state that knows no hunger except in the time of famine.


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Chicago: William Greenwood, "IX.," Confiscation; an Outline, trans. Garnett, Constance Black, 1862-1946 in Confiscation; an Outline (London: Effingham Wilson, Royal Exchange, 1831), Original Sources, accessed October 5, 2022,

MLA: Greenwood, William. "IX." Confiscation; an Outline, translted by Garnett, Constance Black, 1862-1946, in Confiscation; an Outline, London, Effingham Wilson, Royal Exchange, 1831, Original Sources. 5 Oct. 2022.

Harvard: Greenwood, W, 'IX.' in Confiscation; an Outline, trans. . cited in 1831, Confiscation; an Outline, Effingham Wilson, Royal Exchange, London. Original Sources, retrieved 5 October 2022, from