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If properly disposed of, the public domain may be productive of national and individual prosperity, commensurate with our union and durable as time. But if, on the other hand, it be unwisely parted with by the general government, or still more unwisely retained in her possession, it must produce in the Council of the nation strife and discord.
In Wisconsin there has been but a small portion of the public domain brought into market, that a large portion has been settled prior to any survey having been made, and thousands of those hardy and enterprising pioneers, who by their enterprise and industry have converted a solitary waste into highly cultivated fields, opened roads, built houses, mills, and bridges, thereby rendering the soil valuable and creating the necessary facilities of easy and convenient intercommunication, constitute, in the opinion of your memorialists, considerations of great merit, and should have great influence on the action of Congress touching the interest of the actual settler. The general inability of the frontier settler to pay a greater than the government minimum price for its lands, taken in connexion with their important services in the primitive settlement of the country, to say nothing about the justness of securing the actual settler his improvements, which he has acquired under circumstances of great privation and hardship, constitute strong claims upon the more generous legislation of your honourable body.
The increase of population in this Territory has been great beyond all precedent, and those immense praries which were so recently an unproductive wilderness, are now beginning to be covered with an industrious, honest, and enterprising race of farmers.
The last two years, especially, have been distinguished by the unexampled rapidity with which this interesting process has been carried forward, and is still in progress. The tide continues to sweep on with undiminished force. A large proportion of these active emigrants are farmers-persons seeking homes, and a soil from which to earn a livelihood. From the uniform policy of the general government, in extending the right of pre-emption to actual settlers, thousands have expend
ed their all in settling and improving the public lands. A large portion of this Territory having been settled prior to any survey, your memorialist's most earnestly pray that your honourable bodies may speedily pass such laws as may be necessary to protect the settler in his improvements. . That you extend the right of pre-emption for a half section to the actual settler who has cultivated the soil and made sufficient improvement to evince a bona fide settlement, securing to them all their improvements.
Believing that the public domain should be disposed of to the cultivators of the soil, that monopolies, by individuals or companies, should be prevented; that sales should be made to actual settlers only, and in limited quantities. Therefore your memorialists pray, that your honourable bodies may as speedily as possible pass a law restricting the sale of the public lands to . actual settlers, and in limited quantities.
Your honourable bodies would by such a course of policy place the honest and industrious cultivator of the soil beyond the iron grasp of the speculator.
On motion of Mr. Teas, The said memorial was read the first, second, and third times, passed, and
Ordered to be sent to the Council for concurrence.
Mr. Durkee, from the committee to which was referred the memorial sent from the Council for the construction of a harbour at the mouth of Milwaukee river, reported a substitute therefor; which is as follows:
To the Honourable, the Senate, and House of Representatives of the United States, in Congress assembled :
A memorial of the Council and House of Representatives of the Territory of Wisconsin respectfully represents :
That the business on the line of communication between Buffalo in the State of New York, to Milwaukee in this Territory, and to Chicago in the state of Illinois, renders it actually necessary that the mouth of Milwaukee river should be improved, and a safe harbour made, with sufficient depth of water to admit any craft engaged in the trade. Your memorialists would farther state, that from the north end of Lake Michigan
to Chicago, a distance of four hundred miles, there is not a harbour to protect the numerous vessels engaged in the Lake trade. The degree of importance to which the town of Milwaukee and its vicinity has already arrived, renders it indispensably necessary that the channel of the river should be improved, and a harbour constructed for the accommodation and protection of the shipping trade of that port. There are frequently fifteen or twenty sail of vessels and steamboats at one time anchored in the lake without the mouth of the river, waiting for fair weather to discharge their cargoes and land their passengers. These vessels are of a respectable class, varying from two to eight hundred tons burden, worth from twelve to eighty thousand dollars, each, and their cargoes amounting to a much larger sum. The frequent loss of life and property occasioned by shipwrecks on Lake Michigan should admonish your honourable bodies of the propriety of constructing harbours at all eligible points on said lake without unnecessary delay, and your memorialists confidently express the opinion that there is no point more eligible and important than the one alluded to in this memorial. The improvement asked for, would much enhance the value of the land in the vicinity belonging to the General Government, and would give additional security to the large amount of capital invested in the trade of the lakes,
Your memorialists would therefore respectfully recommend, that an appropriation of twenty thousand dollars be made by your honourable bodies, and placed under the control of the proper authority, so as to ensure the speedy commencement and completion of the work.
On motion of Mr. Chance,
The said substitute for the memorial sent from the Council was then read a first, second, and third time, passed, and
Ordered to be sent to the Council for concurrence.
Mr. Engle, from the select committee to which was referred the memorial (from the Council) for the construction of a road from the mouth of Milwaukee river, to Madison, Mineral Point, by way of the town of Mississippi to Dubuque, reported the following substitute :
To the Honourable, the Senate, and House of Representatives
of the United States, in Congress Assembled: The memorial of the Council and House of Representatives : of Wisconsin Territory, respectfully represents:
That, at the present time there is no road in this territory, by which the mail can be transported with any degree of certainty from Lake Michigan to the Mississippi river, and the settlement of the country between those waters is also greatly impeded by the difficulty emigrants experience in getting supplies back for the subsistence of their families. From Milwaukee to Rock river, a distance of seventy miles, the land has never been offered for sale, and by laying off and making a road from the town of Milwaukee, by way of Madison, the seat of Government of the Territory, Mineral Point, to some eligible point on the Mississippi river, within this territory, the settlement of the intermediate country would be greatly promoted, and the facilities for transporting the mails increased. Your memorialists beg leave, therefore, to call the attention of your honourable bodies to this subject, and to ask the appropriation of
thousand dollars, to be expended under the direction of the proper department, in accomplishing the object herein named.
The said memorial was then considered.
Strike out the word “ and,” after the word Territory, and insert the words “ thence to."
Strike out the words “ to some eligible point,” and insert “ and Plattville to Cassville.”
Mr. Quigley moved to amend the amendment by striking out the words " and Plattville to Cassville," and insert “ the most eligible point.”
The motion was lost.
Mr. Nowlin moved to lay the memorial and amendment on the table.
The motion was lost.
The question was then taken on the amendment made by Mr. Cox, and agreed to..
Mr. Nowlin moved to strike out the words “ to Mineral Point, and thence to Plattville:”
Mr. Parkinson moved to amend the amendment, by inserting the word “ Dubuque."
The question was then taken and lost.
Yeas:-Messrs. Box, Chance, MGregor, Nowlin, Quigley, and Wheeler-6. .
Nays:-Messrs. Blair, Boyls, Brunson, Brunet, Childs, Cox, Durkee, Jenkins, M.Knight, M-Williams, Parkinson, Reynolds, Smith, Shanley, Teas, and Leffler, Speaker-16.
The question was then taken on the adoption of the substitute, as amended, and it was agreed to.
Mr. Brunson gave notice that he should at a future day ask leave to bring in a bill, entitled “ An act to authorize and require the board of supervisors of the county of Crawford to levy a series of taxes, to defray the expense of building a bridge across the marrais of St. Friole, in said county."
Mr. M Williams gave notice that he should at a future day ask leave to bring in a bill to organize a board of public works.
Mr. M Gregor, by leave, introduced a bill (No. 7,) entitled “ A bill to prevent forcible entry and detainer,” which was laid on the table.
Mr. Parkinson gave notice, that he should at a future day ask leave to bring in a bill to provide for the erection of county buildings in the county of Iowa.
Mr. Shanley gave notice, that at a future day he should ask leave to introduce a bill to locate the county seats in this territory.
Mr. Teas, by leave, introduced a bill, (No. 8,) to locate and establish a road from Rochester, in the county of Van Buren, to intersect the territorial road, leading from Farmington to Burlington; which was laid on the table.
On motion of Mr. Childs,
3 O'CLOCK, P. M.. The memorial for the construction of a road from Milwaukee, via Madison and Mineral Point, to the Mississippi river, was taken up and ordered to be engrossed for a third reading.