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Property and the Ideology of Improvement in María Amparo Ruiz de Burton's The Squatter and the Don and California Travel Narratives

Property and the Ideology of Improvement in María Amparo Ruiz de Burton's The Squatter and... Property and the Ideology of Improvement in María Amparo Ruiz de Burton’s Th e Squatter and the Don and California Travel Narratives Valerie Sirenko In María Amparo Ruiz de Burton’s Th e Squatter and the Don (1885), Don Mariano Alamar, a California rancher of Mexican heritage, or Californio, fi nds himself stuck in legal limbo while the US courts decide whether to confi rm the title to his lands. In the meantime, white settlers have begun to stake claims to his land under the authority of the Homestead Act of 1862, which allowed heads of households to claim 160 acres of public land after fi ve years of cultivating or “improving” it. Although the Homestead Act only permitted homesteading on public land, the settlers in Squatter are betting that Don Mariano’s title will be denied by the courts and his private land will become part of the public domain. Ruiz de Burton’s novel unpacks how legislation like the Homestead Act, the California Land Act of 1851, and the No Fence Law created a legal climate in which property disputes— regardless of the actual outcome in the courts— led to the dispossession of Californios because an uncertain title put this http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Western American Literature uni_neb

Property and the Ideology of Improvement in María Amparo Ruiz de Burton's The Squatter and the Don and California Travel Narratives

Western American Literature , Volume 54 (4) – Feb 5, 2020

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Publisher
University of Nebraska Press
Copyright
Copyright © Western Literature Association
ISSN
0043-3462

Abstract

Property and the Ideology of Improvement in María Amparo Ruiz de Burton’s Th e Squatter and the Don and California Travel Narratives Valerie Sirenko In María Amparo Ruiz de Burton’s Th e Squatter and the Don (1885), Don Mariano Alamar, a California rancher of Mexican heritage, or Californio, fi nds himself stuck in legal limbo while the US courts decide whether to confi rm the title to his lands. In the meantime, white settlers have begun to stake claims to his land under the authority of the Homestead Act of 1862, which allowed heads of households to claim 160 acres of public land after fi ve years of cultivating or “improving” it. Although the Homestead Act only permitted homesteading on public land, the settlers in Squatter are betting that Don Mariano’s title will be denied by the courts and his private land will become part of the public domain. Ruiz de Burton’s novel unpacks how legislation like the Homestead Act, the California Land Act of 1851, and the No Fence Law created a legal climate in which property disputes— regardless of the actual outcome in the courts— led to the dispossession of Californios because an uncertain title put this

Journal

Western American Literatureuni_neb

Published: Feb 5, 2020

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