Property Rights and the U.S. Constitution Lecture

The Property-Centered Constitutionalism of the Founding Generation and Its Continued Vitality Today

The Kinder Institute at the University of Missouri will host Vanderbilt University Milton R. Underwood Professor of Law Emeritus James W. Ely, Jr., as part of its spring 2017 lecture series.

March 21, 2017
St. Louis Club
St. Louis, Missouri

For more information about the event, or to reserve a seat, please contact Kinder Institute Communications Associate Thomas Kane, at



This lecture will explore the pivotal role of property rights in the constitution-making process of the post-Revolutionary Era. Stressing the influence of the English constitutional tradition on the founding generation, it will argue that the prevailing high regard for the rights of property owners reflected the twin objectives of protecting individual liberty and encouraging economic growth. Consequently, state constitutions, as well as the federal document, contained many provisions pertaining to the security of economic interests. There were, of course, disputes over the extent of the protection afforded owners by these measures. Still, the key point is that throughout the nineteenth century, property rights were treated as essential components of constitutional law and closely linked with other individual rights. Both federal and state courts sought to effectuate this commitment to property rights by the founding generation.

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