By Mary E. Webster
April 26, 2014
“To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States and the Acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States, and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dockyards, and other needful Buildings;” Article One, Section 8, United States Constitution
Once again, the Constitution is written so clearly that it takes a liar to say that it authorizes the federal government to take and/or manage property within the United States for reasons other than “Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dockyards, and other needful Buildings”. Of course, “other needful Buildings” is not specific. However, any sane person will understand that the Constitution is talking about either military uses, e.g., bases, or the buildings necessary to fulfill the other federal duties, e.g., post offices.
Neither the United State Constitutionnor The Federalist Papers mention national parks, national monuments, Bureau of Land Management, national forests, "protected land" or national land regulations. However, we can infer from the Papers and the ratification debate that the States would not have ratified the Constitution if it gave the federal government the power to come into a State and take control of land.
“The size of this federal district is limited. The State ceding the land for this use must consent. The State will make a compact with the federal government, assuring the rights of the citizens of the district. The inhabitants will have enough inducements to become willing parties to the cession. An elected municipal legislature will exercise authority over them. The legislature of the State and the people who live in the ceded part will agree to the cession and ratify the Constitution. Therefore, this seems to cover every objection.
“The federal government must have authority over forts, military depots, arsenals, dockyards, etc. Public money will be spent on such places.The property and equipment stored there should not be under State authority. These are important to the security of the entire Union and shouldn’t depend on one State. However, each State where they are located must agree.” Federalist Paper # 43 [paragraphs 5-6]
Except for the small amount of land listed in the Constitution, it is clear that the federal government is not supposed to own property within the United States. The Constitution cannot be faulted for the federal land grab that has been detrimental to the economy and well-being of the States. The States have allowed this invasion of unconstitutional federal power.
To further highlight how out of kilter the federal government’s role has become, it is doing a better job keeping United States citizens off federally owned land than protecting our borders from illegal entry.
The importance of private property to the Founding Fathers and the people who ratified the Constitution cannot be overstated.
“Property rights originate from the people. But men's abilities are diverse, creating an insurmountable obstacle to equality of acquisitions. Protection of these abilities is government's primary function. Because government protects different and unequal abilities to acquire property, the people end up owning properties of varying value and kind. This diversity of property ownership divides society into groups with different interests and concerns.” # 10 
Government’s “primary function” is protection of the people’s unequal acquisition of property. Primary function! That is strong language.
© 2014 Mary E. Webster - All Rights Reserved
Mary E Webster, a graduate of St. Paul College and the University of Iowa, started studying The Federalist Papers in 1994. Her books, including a 10th-grade reading level translation of the Papers, The Federalist Papers: Modern English Edition Two, and The U.S. Constitution: Annotated with The Federalist Papers in Modern English make the timeless arguments within the Papers available to everyone. Webster is related to Noah and Daniel Webster and a direct descendent of several signers of the Mayflower Compact.