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 two single white women, white landowners, who never lived on Harris Neck and who had not made all of the “improvements” to their land that the African American families had made, were paid 40 percent more than those who had called Harris Neck home from 1865 to 1942.
2. People in the community were paid only for their land. They were not paid for their
houses or any other “improvements”.
3. There is no existing evidence that everyone was paid, and some still have their deeds.
4. People were paid long after the time specified by Eminent Domain.
5. The “taking” was done in a very short time – about 3 weeks.
6. There was no public hearing.
7. People were not even told they were permitted independent appraisals of their property.
8. There was nothing done about relocation. It was all about just getting off the land.
- 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 come to own a large number of acres on Harris Neck by 1942.
- Families went from owning as many as 300* acres on Harris Neck to less than 2 acres per family in Eagle Neck. (* Average was 35 acres per family in 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: 1-866-339-7242………..firstname.lastname@example.org