Order Without Law? Property Rights During the California Gold Rush
The paper reconsiders the nature of mining districts and property rights during the California gold rush. According to a widely accepted view advanced by Umbeck (1977, 1981), in the absence of effective legal authority, district codes established secure property rights in mining claims. Such accounts neglect essential aspects of the economic context, specifically that the gold rush approximated an open-access race for a small number of high value deposits. We show that mining district codes gave equal attention to the rights of claim-jumpers as to claim holders, a balance that in practice generated chronic insecurity and litigation. A simple game-theoretic model illustrates stylized features of the situation.
|Date of creation:||May 2004|
|Date of revision:|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: |
Phone: (650) 725-1874
Fax: (650) 723-8611
Web page: http://siepr.stanford.edu
More information through EDIRC
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Zerbe, Richard O. & Anderson, C. Leigh, 2001. "Culture And Fairness In The Development Of Institutions In The California Gold Fields," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 61(01), pages 114-143, March.
- Lueck, Dean, 1995. "The Rule of First Possession and the Design of the Law," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 38(2), pages 393-436, October.
- Clay, Karen, 1997. "Trade without Law: Private-Order Institutions in Mexican California," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 13(1), pages 202-31, April.
- H. Scott Gordon, 1954. "The Economic Theory of a Common-Property Resource: The Fishery," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 62, pages 124.
- Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1976. "Monopoly and the Rate of Extraction of Exhaustible Resources," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 66(4), pages 655-61, September.
- David, Paul A & Wright, Gavin, 1997. "Increasing Returns and the Genesis of American Resource Abundance," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 6(2), pages 203-45, March.
- Wright, Brian Davern, 1983. "The Economics of Invention Incentives: Patents, Prizes, and Research Contracts," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 73(4), pages 691-707, September.
- Robert A. Margo, 2000. "Introduction to "Wages and Labor Markets in the United States, 1820-1860"," NBER Chapters, in: Wages and Labor Markets in the United States, 1820-1860, pages 1-5 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Anderson, Terry L & Hill, Peter J, 1990. "The Race for Property Rights," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 33(1), pages 177-97, April.
- Umbeck, John, 1977. "The California gold rush: A study of emerging property rights," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 14(3), pages 197-226, July.
- Greif, Avner, 1993. "Contract Enforceability and Economic Institutions in Early Trade: the Maghribi Traders' Coalition," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(3), pages 525-48, June.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:sip:dpaper:03-033. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Anne Shor)
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.