1787 - Eminent domain

Eminent domain is the power of government to condemn privately owned land. This absolute authority was seldom opposed by whites when the government was condemind Indian lands, but it always becomes an incendiary political issue when white lands are being condemned.

   Eminent domain, a legal tool used by the state to confiscate, or condemn, privately owned land, has its origins as a law in the Middle Ages.    click here for more

Eminent Domain

        To this day, eminent domain, a law that has roots in the crusades of the Middle Ages, is a hot button issue for many Americans.  When treaty tribes on the upper Missouri River lost most of their homelands to eminent domain in the 1950s to make way for a series of flood control dams, very few people in the non-Indian American community came to their defense.

Innocent IV

        This controversial power gives the state the authority to seize a citizen's private property so long as the individual is given monetary compensation.   Eminent domain gives the state the right to seize private property without obtaining the permission of the owner.  Most property seized by eminent domain is put to use for a public need, such as a public utility, a highway, or a transportation waterway.   This power, with its origins in the papacy of the Middle Ages, is, to this day, a contentious legal tool of government.

        Pope Innocent IV encyclical, Quod super his, in the Middle Ages, is the origin of the law we know in modern times as 'eminent domain.'