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"Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” ~ Frederick Douglass

Eminent Domain

Eminent Domain Violations in the Harris Neck Taking


The three core principles of Eminent Domain are: just compensation, due process and leaving the landowners in at least as good a condition as they were before the taking.  All three of these principles were absolutely violated in Harris Neck in the summer of 1942.  It should also be noted that there were 3,595 acres of virtually uninhabited land, just as suitable as Harris Neck, just south of Harris Neck.  This land had been owned by one of the McIntosh County Commissioners.  The specific violations of Eminent Domain include:


1. With the exception of Lilly Livingston, who was White, White landowners of Harris Neck never lived on Harris Neck, nor did they make any "improvements" to their raw  land. Yet all the White landowners were paid 40 percent more than the Black owners, all of whom had houses, barns and other buildings on their property. In fact, this was a community with two churches, a general store, fire department and a school house.

2. There is no evidence that everyone was paid. 

3. People were paid long after the time specified in this Eminent Domain taking.

4. The “taking” was done in a very short time – about 3 weeks.  

5. There was no public hearing.

6. People were not even told they were permitted independent appraisals of their property.

7. There was nothing done about relocation.  It was all about just getting off the land, and everyone was left homeless. This was in direct violation of the 1934 US Supreme Court case Olson vs US.


- Families went from owning as many as 300* acres on Harris Neck to less than 2 acres per family in Eagle Neck.  (* Average was 16 acres per family before the taking.)

- Many families forced from Harris Neck bought lots in the area west of Harris Neck, called Eagle Neck, from Irvin Davis, a White man who had acquired a large number of acres on Harris Neck by 1942.  

•   Therefore, there were many violations of Due Process and people’s Civil Rights in this implementation of Eminent Domain in 1942.  The official eviction date       in Harris Neck was July 27, 1942.  Since this taking was wrong and illegal, all subsequent transfers of title, including the last transfer to the US Department           of Interior, were invalid.

•   Definition of Eminent Domain (Condemnation): The Power of local, state or federal 
     government agencies to take private property for “public use” so long as the government pays “just compensation.”

Dan Biersdorf:  1-612-568-0465………


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