William Ogilvie, The Right of Property in Land, 1781.




Section I

Of the Right of Property in Land as derived from the Law of Nature

  1. Each individual derives from the right of general occupancy a right to an equal share of the soil
  2. This right cannot be precluded by any possession of others
  3. Nor is it tacitly renounced by those who have had no opportunity of entering upon it.
  4. The opportunity of claiming this right ought to be reserved for every citizen
  5. Rude societies have respected this right; in the progress of arts it is overlooked, and by conquests generally subverted
  6. Speculative reasoners have confounded this equal right with that which is founded in labour, and ascertained by municipal law
  7. The right of a landholder to an extensive estate must be founded chiefly in labour
  8. The progress of cultivation gives an ascendant to the right of labour over that of general occupancy
  9. But the public good requires that both should be respected and combined together
  10. Such combination is difficult, and has rarely been established for any length of time
  11. It is the proper object of Agrarian laws, and effectual means of establishing it may be devised
  12. The value of an estate in land consists of three parts -- the original, the improved, and the improvable value
  13. The original and the improvable value of a great estate still belong to the community, the improved alone to the landholder
  14. The original value is the proper subject of land-taxes; the improvable value may be separated from the improved, and ought to be still open to the claims of the community

    Section II

    Of the Right of Property in Land as founded on Public Utility

  15. Public happiness is the object of good government; it is not always increased by increased wealth and dominion
  16. Nor by increase of numbers
  17. The happiness of citizens bears proportion to their virtue; some situations are favourable to virtue, that of the independent cultivator more especially is so
  18. Men in.that situation increase more in number
  19. And by their industry most effectually promote the real wealth of the public
  20. Comeliness and strength are the least equivocal marks of prosperity in a race of people
  21. In these respects the race of cultivators excel
  22. To increase the number of men in this situation, seems to increase public happiness
  23. 3 The natural rights and best interests of men require the same economy of property in land
  24. Other plans for increasing happiness ought to be postponed to independent cultivation
  25. 5 Manufactures and commerce in particular ought to be postponed to it
  26. If every field is cultivated by its proprietor, and every person who chooses it may become proprietor of a field, the highest public prosperity may be said to be obtained

    Section III

    Of the Abuses and Pernicious Effects of that Exorbitant Right of Property in Land which the Municipal Laws of Europe have established

  27. The actual state of Europe, with respect to property in land, the cultivation of the soil, and the prosperity of the lower ranks, is very different from what might be desired
  28. The imperfection of this state arises from that right to the improvable value of the soil which landholders possess
  29. The oppression proceeding from this right debases the spirit and corrupts the probity of the lower ranks
  30. The rent which may be taken for land ought to be submitted to regulations not less than the interest of money
  31. It is of more importance that regulations should be imposed on property in land
  32. And though difficult, not impracticable
  33. Property in land, as at present established in Europe, is a monopoly of the most pernicious kind
  34. By this monopoly, population is rendered almost stationary in Europe
  35. It checks the progress of agriculture in fertilising the earth
  36. Under its influence the increase of population tends to diminish happiness, and the celibacy of particular orders cannot be called a political evil
  37. The interest of landholders is substituted for that of the community; it ought to be the same, but is not
  38. The landholders of a nation levy the most oppressive of all taxes; they receive the most unmerited of all pensions, -- if tithes are oppressive to industry, rents capable of being raised from time to time are much more so
  39. All property ought to be the reward of industry; all industry ought to be secured of its full reward; the exorbitant right: of the landholders subverts both these maxims of good policy
  40. It is the indirect influence of this monopoly which makes a poor-rate necessary; requires unnatural severity in penal laws; renders sumptuary laws unpolitical, and the improvement of machinery for facilitating labour unpopular, and perhaps pernicious
  41. While such a monopoly subsists, emigration ought to be left free, if not facilitated
  42. The oppressed state of the cultivators, being universal, has been regarded by themselves and others as necessary and irremediable
  43. A sound policy respecting property in land is perhaps the greatest improvement that can be made in human affairs
  44. It might restore a sinking state


    Section I

    Of Circumstances and Occasions favourable to a complete Reformation of the Laws respecting Property in Land, by the sovereign or legislative power

  45. Reformation in this important point is not to be despaired of; the establishment of property in land has changed, and may hereafter receive other innovations
  46. Conquering princes might establish the most equitable and beneficial system in countries subdued by their arms
  47. In new colonies it ought to be established by the parent state
  48. In small dependent states the sovereign of a great nation may establish it without danger . . . . . .
  49. Princes of heroic minds, born to absolute monarchy, might establish a complete reformation in their whole dominions at once

    Section II

    Of Circumstances and Occasions favourable to a partial Reformation of the Laws respecting Property in Land, by the sovereign or legislative power

  50. Absolute monarchs might without difficulty establish many regulations of partial yet very extensive reformation
  51. The whole community may be disposed to adopt the most beneficial plans for public good
  52. Under cover of other regulations some changes favourable to cultivation may be introduced
  53. Certain regulations particularly require, and may justify such changes
  54. The regulation of leases is not unusual, and might be made productive of the best effects
  55. A right of redemption might be given to the cultivators of any estate exposed to sale
  56. Forfeited and escheated lands might be made the subject of beneficial establishments

    Section III

    Of Circumstances which might induce the rulers of a State to turn their wishes and endeavours towards the accomplishment of such a Change

  57. The collective body of the people, if at any time their power shall predominate, ought above all things to insist on a just regulation of property in land
  58. The candidates for disputed thrones might offer this reformation to the body of the people
  59. Whatever bodies of men are oppressed in other respects ought to claim this right also. It might become the ministers of religion to support it
  60. Public calamities may induce rulers of a state to think of renovating the vigour of the community by a just regulation of property in land
  61. Imminent and continual dangers may have the same effect
  62. And the accumulation of public debts ought to have it

    Section IV

    Of Public Institutions calculated for promoting a gradual and salutary Change in the state of Property in Land

  63. A board instituted for that purpose might promote the independence of cultivation by calm and silent operations
  64. Premiums might produce some effect, as in affairs of inferior importance

    Section V

    Of such examples and beginnings of reformation as might be expected from the generous efforts of private persons acting singly

  65. In the management of a great estate, various measures favourable to independent cultivation might be very prudently introduced
  66. And in the settlement of an entail on liberal principles
  67. Some examples and beginnings may be obtained by charitable bequests and foundations
  68. And by the liberality of opulent individuals

    Section VI

    Of such examples and beginnings of reformation as might be produced by the combined endeavours of private persons

  69. The joint contribution of many might effect what individuals cannot attempt
  70. The attentions of societies for the encouragement of agriculture might be extended to this, the most effectual encouragement of all

    Section VII

    Of a progressive Agrarian law, which might be made the basis of all partial and occasional reformation respecting property in land

  71. Scheme of a progressive Agrarian law, exhibited in detail
  72. Peculiar advantages of such a scheme
  73. Variations by which it might be accommodated to the interests of various orders
  74. Modifications more particularly adapted to different countries
  75. The inconveniences that cannot be separated from such innovations would be more than compensated by probable advantages