This dissertation is a collection of three essays in empirical development economics using data from Brazil. These essays aim to contribute to the literature exploring the impact of historical events on current development and the impact of investments in fiscal capacity on development and political outcomes. The first essay evaluates the causality between slavery and current inequality by exploiting the discontinuities of the Tordesillas line pre-dating the discovery of Brazil. The second essay exploits a source of quasi-random variation in observed infrastructure and uses a historical route opened by the Rondon Commission (1915- 1917) as an instrumental variable to investigate the impact of a national highway on the development of the Amazon region. The third essay evaluates the investments in fiscal capacity of urban property taxes on development and political outcomes.