Baker v. Morton

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Baker v. Morton
Seal of the United States Supreme Court.svg
Argued March 24, 1871
Decided April 3, 1871
Full case name Alexander H. Baker v. William S. Morton
Citations 79 U.S. 150 (more)
12 Wall. 150; 20 L. Ed. 262; 1870 U.S. LEXIS 1172
Court membership
Chief Justice
Salmon P. Chase
Associate Justices
Samuel Nelson · Nathan Clifford
Noah H. Swayne · Samuel F. Miller
David Davis · Stephen J. Field
William Strong · Joseph P. Bradley
Case opinions
Majority Clifford, joined by unanimous

Baker v. Morton, 79 U.S. (12 Wall.) 150 (1870), was the first "serious" court case to come out of Omaha, Nebraska Territory, prior to statehood. In the trial a claim jumper fought against local land barons to stake out a homestead in the area that was to become the city of Omaha. The case was important for establishing homesteaders rights and ensuring the future growth of Omaha would benefit everyone, not only wealthy landowners.


The case of Alexander H. Baker v. William S. Morton was a case of an ill-gotten land claim. Baker was an early settler in the Omaha area who lived on 160 acres (0.65 km2) of land in an area of town then known as Orchard Hill, which is now in North Omaha.[1]

An adjoining 160-acre (0.65 km2) plot of land was owned by a man named Brown. The Omaha Claim Club did not recognize the men as legal residents for either of the plots and threatened the two men with death if they did not turn over the titles to the land. In 1857 Baker filed suit against the Club, and soon after the courts of the Nebraska Territory decided against Baker. The case ended up in the U.S. Supreme Court which decided that regardless of the situation, the property was obtained under duress and was to be reinstated to the rightful owners.[2]


Today this case is cited by legal experts as precedent in cases of contractual holdup to establish the illegal nature of the Omaha Claim Club's activities and subsequent activities that reflect this form of collusion.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ 79 U.S. at 150-159.
  2. ^ Baumann, L.; Martin, C.; Simpson, S. (1990). Omaha's Historic Prospect Hill Cemetery. Omaha: Prospect Hill Cemetery Historical Development Foundation. 
  3. ^ Shavell, Steven (2007). "Contractual Holdup and Legal Intervention". The Journal of Legal Studies. 36 (2): 325–354. CiteSeerX accessible. doi:10.1086/511892. 

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