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JAN. 13, 1837.]
but rapidly tending towards a total change of the pure republican character of the Government, and the concentration of all power in the hands of one man. The eyes of the American people are anxiously turned towards Congress; they feel that they have been deceived and insulted, their confidence abused, their interests betrayed, and their liberties in danger; they see a rapid and alarming concentration of power in one man's hands; they see that, by the exercise of the positive authority, and his negative power exerted over Congress, the will of one man alone prevails and governs the republic. The question is no longer what laws will Congress pass, but what will the Executive not veto? We already be. bold the usual incidents of approaching tyranny; the land is filled with spies and impostors, and detraction and denunciations are the orders of the day. People, especially official incumbents in this place, no longer dare to speak in the fearless tones of manly freedom, but in the cautious whispers of trembling slaves. The premonitory symptoms of despotism are upon us; and if Congress do not apply an instantaneous and effective remedy, the fatal collapse will soon come on, and we shall die—ignobly die—base, mean, and abject slaves, the scorn and contempt of mankind, unpitied, unwept, and unmourned.” Such were the dreadful consequences which were to follow from the act of the President which we are now told was nothing more than an error or mistake as to his constitutional powers. Sir, the speech I have referred to, and all the speeches in support of the resolution of March, 1834, treated the removal of the deposites as a lawless outrage, a daring invasion of the rights and liberties of the people. Then the impeachment resolution was not spoken of as a mere expression of opinion, but gentlemen boasted that the President had been j'. tried, and found guilty. The Senator from South Carolina [Mr. Preston] need not be reminded of his having publicly declared, in the city of the bank, that “Jackson had been arraigned, found guilty, and condemned. He, like the Legislature, has appealed to the country; and, fellow-citizens, you are the country. In you be the verdict, whether the issue of the contest be despotism or a free Government.” How does this language compare with what we now hear. The Senator now says that the resolution of 1834 did no harm; that it amounted to nothing, and was a mere expression of an opinion; and asks for the reasons why it shall be ex. punged. Sir, that resolution is a sentence of condemnation against the President, false in point of fact, irregular in point of form, and in open violation of the constitution. Does it not charge the President with criminal conduct? It asserts that his acts were in violation of the constitution and laws, or in derogation of them, which is the same thing. And is it not a high misdemeanor, and a crime, for the Chief Executive Magistrate to violate the constitution and laws of his country? Is it not a gross abuse of his official trust? And are we to be told that no bad motive is charged in the resolution? This cannot alter the case. We are to look at the substance of the charge, and not the form. Does not the charge against any person, and especially the Chief Executive, of violating the constitution and laws, import a criminal purpose? what was it but an alleged violation of the constitution and laws on the part of the Foxecutive of that country, which led to a civil war in England? What was it but a violation of the constitution and laws which led our patriotic ancestors to resist the inroads of power in '76? Sir, there can be no higher crime charged upon the Executive of any country, than the violation of the constitution and laws. But it is said, that if this resolution can be expunged, any part or the whole of the journal may be expunged, and that the expunging process may be extended to the
records of the Supreme Court. There may be other reasons to justify the expunction of this resolution, but I place it on the ground that the proceeding was not only irregular and unconstitutional, but altogether beyond the jurisdiction of the Senate, and totally void; and the record no better than an interpolation upon our journals. It is, however, asked, where is the necessity and what is the object of expunging the resolution of 1834? I can answer this for myself, and for myself only; other gentlemen may have different reasons, but there are two which are sufficient for me. The first is, that it is due as an act of simple justice to the party injured, who has been arraigned, tried, and condemned, unheard, and in violation of all the forms of the constitution, and the established rules of judicial proceedings. I know it is asserted that the whole purpose is to exalt still higher the name and fame of the President, to enable him to tri. umph over a humbled and degraded Senate, and to make him an object of almost divine adoration. Sir, this is not my purpose; I believe it is not the purpose of any one; so far as the President was regarded at all in this matter, we seek only to do him justice, the same justice, and no more, which the humblest individual in the country would be entitled to at our hands. If a sentence of condemnation has been recorded against him, false in point of facts, and illegal and unconstitutional in point of principle, does not justice require that it should be removed? Are not the rights of the Chief Magistrate as dear to us, and as much entitled to protection, as those of a private citizen? Sir, if the President was as bad as he has been represented to be, by imbittered partisans--which we all know is bad enough--if he was as great a tyrant as he has been charged with being, if he was another Caesar, or Cromwell, a military chieftain, hostile to the principles of free government, and prepared to trample into the dust the liberties of his country, still he would be entitled to justice; and is a sentence had been falsely and illegally recorded against him, it ought not to be permitted to stand. Sir, gentlemen are altogether mistaken when they assert that this proceed. ing is designed to honor the President; it is only intended to do him justice. But there is another, and, in my mind, a very strong and cogent reason, why the obnoxious resolution of 1834 ought to be expunged. It is a dangerous example, and, if suffered to to acquire the character of a prece. dent, might unsettle and derange our whole political system. . It has a direct and unavoidable tendency to array and bring into conflict one independent and co-ordinate branch of the Government with another independent and co-ordinate department. If one independent branch of the Government can, in a way not known to the constitution, accuse, try, and condemn, another independent branch, does it not tend to bring on a conflict between them? Each will have his friends and partisans, the people will take sides, and the whole population be. come involved in the controversy. . If the Senate can, by its direct action, examine into and condemn the con. duct of the Executive, and promulgate sentence against him, it can do the same in regard to the House of Representatives, or the Supreme Court. The President is as independent, and as distinctly a co-ordinate branch of the Government, as is the Judiciary. If the Senate can by resolution try and condemn the President for any executive act or measure, the President may, by proclamation or otherwise, pass sentence of condemnation against the Senate, or House of Representatives, or the Supreme Court. Sir, this doctrine will not do; it is not the doctrine of the constitution; one independent department of the Government cannot inquire into and pass sentence of condemnation against the acts of another independent department, except so far as the constitution has allowed it to be done, and according to its forms. This example, SENATE.]
(JAN. 13, 1837.
if permitted to stand, will be a dangerous breach in the constitution. A distinguished political writer in England, (Lord Bolingbroke,) in speaking of the constitution of that country, says: “We understand our constitution to be in danger, not only when it is attacked, but as soon as a breach is made by which it may be attacked; and we understand this danger to be greater or less, in proportion to the breach that is made, without regard to the probability or improbability of an attack.”
But to show the danger of these conflicts between the different departments of the Government, he would refer to the history of that country from whence our ancestors came, and brought with them the great principles of our free institutions. If we look into the long controversy which preceded the civil war, it will be found to have sprung from the very principle contained in the resolution of 1834: the right of one independent branch of the Government to try and condemn the acts of another. He would beg leave to refer the Senate to Whitlocke, who was an actor in those scenes, a member of Parliament, he believed an officer of the army, and a chronicler of the events of his own times. He says, “it is strange to note how we have insensibly slid into the beginning of this civil war, by one unexpected incident after another, as waves of the sea, which have brought us this far, we hardly know how; but from paper combats; by declarations, remonstrances, protests, votes, messages, answers, and replies, we are now come to the question of raising forces, and naming a general and officers of an
army.” We are here told, by an actor in those bloody
scenes, that it was a paper warfare, carried on between the Parliament and the Executive, which involved that country in all the horrors of a civil war; which armed father against son, and brother against brother; which depopulated its towns, desolaled its fair fields, and stained their soil with the blood of Englishmen. These les. sons of history, written in characters of blood, should not be lost on a free and intelligent people. It was, in his opinion, not more on the account of the injustice, flagrant as that was considered, than the dangerous ten. dency of the proceedings of 1834, which has roused up the spirit of the country against them. It is the danger of such a precedent, rather than its unconstitutional
character, which has brought upon the resolution in
question so marked a reprobation. On a recent occasion he attempted to assign the reasons which had attached, for nearly half a century, a high degree of opprobrium to the sedition law; and asserted that the reprobation of that act did not arise so much from its being regarded as unconstitutional, as from its dangerous char. acter, and its being considered as a deadly blow aimed at public opinion, the essential element of our Government. it is the same with respect to the resolution of March, 1834. The people have regarded it as dangerous and pernicious; they have regarded the whole proceeding of the Senate as factious and violent, fraught with mis. chief and danger to our institutions, calculated to lead to commotion and recrimination between the different departments of the Government, which may result, as was the case in England, in rancorous dissensions, and even in civil war. Under the influence of sentiments like these, they were not content that the dangerous precedent should remain upon your records, and now demand at our hands that it shall be removed or expunged.
| Sir, the honorable Senator from Kentucky [Mr. Carrrex pew] has informed us that those of us who may vote for this resolution will have a fair chance for immortality; that our names would be as imperishable as the black lines, and seems to insinuate that both are destined to be damned to everlasting fame. But if there is any immor. tality connected with this matter, I am sure the gentleInaut and his friends will come in for a full share, and something more. They will, indeed, be double sharers
in the harvest of immortal fame, for the proceedings on the resolution of 1834 are destined to the same immortality as those on the resolution now before the Senate. In those proceedings, too, the field was vastly more ample, and all will be entitled to come in for some share in the glory and fame which is to be borne down the tide of time to the latest posterity. Even the vast host of witnesses who came up here in the form of petitioners, to testisy against the President and for the bank, will share in the immortality, ast believe their testimony was all published with their names, making five large vol. umes. Here, sir, is a golden harvest of fame for the partisans of the bank, who either volunteered as witnesses, or promptly came forward at the request of their honorable friends in the Senate. And in regard to this proceeding, he did not see but that those who oppose the resolution would have the same chance for immortality as those who support it; the nays will be recorded on the same page with the yeas, and both go down along with the black lines to posterity. All will have an equal chance of immortality from this day's work; but whether it will be of honor or dishonor, and to which of us one or the other, remains to be known. As was said by a popular writer, Judas is as well known as Paul, but history ascribes his same to very different actions. Having discharged what we believe to be our duty, the whole subject, the black lines and all, will be handed over to those who are to succeed us, and it will remain for posterity to decide who is right and who is wrong, and to award to each and all their share of the honor or infamy which belongs to the transaction. He was content with this; he rejoiced that it should be so, he rejoiced that the deeds of this day, that the merits of this long and painful controversy, will have to be decided upon by posterity, when all the angry passions which it has engendered will have subsided, when it can be viewed calmly and dispassionately, when the judgment will be free from personal prejudice or party rancor, and when the transaction can be viewed with a single eye to the great principles involved... The decision thus made will he final; from it there will be no appeal, and all must acquiesce. Although he could not view the present proceeding in so solemn a light as some gentlemen seemed to regard it, he thought he was fully sensible of its importance, and of the responsibility which belongs to it. He had considered the matter long and well, and, so far as concerned himself, he was prepared to assume the responsibility. He could not doubt the power of the Senate to purify its journal, by removing from its pages a resolution which ought never to have been entered there; and, believing that we have the power, he considered it our duty to exercise it. Not being willing (said Mr. N.) to detain the Senate longer, l will say, in conclusion, that. with these views of the whole subject, I am prepared to stake what little of reputation I have, either here or else: where, on the final issue of the question before us. . I am prepared to record my vote in favor of this resolution, and to permit it to go down along with the black lines to posterity, and abide their impartial judgment. I am prepared to vote to purify our journal, to erase, obliterate, blot out, or expunge, the obnoxious resolution—any way, to remove it from our records. Nay, more; had I, like the prophet of old, the gift of divina. tion, I would raise my voice on high, and devoutly invoke that Being in whose hands are the destinies of nations, who is the searcher of all hearts, and in whose presence we all stand, to send fire from heaven and consume the desecrated page. Mr. MOORE said that the appropriate suggestion with which the Senator from Connecticut [Mr. Niles] had closed his speech, brought to his mind a very impor. tant and useful amendment, the propriety of which he JAN. 14, 1837.]
National Bank in New York.
had no doubt would be evident and obvious to that Sen- | put your act in express words. You record it, and then
ator, and he would beg leave to recommend its adoption turn round and deny it. to the friends of this black-line resolution, viz: that this
record of the Senate’s proceedings, made and preserved by the requirements of the constitution, shall be destroyed by fire to be extracted from heaven by means of a sun-glass. For this he believed they might plead something like a precedent from the General Assembly of Georgia. He thought this would complete the farce. Mr. SOUTHARD having expressed a wish to speak on this subject at a proper time, and when the minds of Senators were not exhausted, moved that the Senate do now adjourn. Negatived, by yeas 20, nays 21; the yeas and nays having been ordered on the call of Mr. BENton. Mr. SOUTHARD then declined speaking at so late an hour. Mr. MOORE moved and urged an adjournment, that proper opportunity might be given for further debate. Negatived: Yeas 20, nays 22. Mr. CALHOUN then rose and addressed the Senate nearly as follows: The gentleman from Virginia [Mr. Rives] says that the argument in favor of this expunging resolution has not been answered. Sir, there are some questions so plain that they cannot be argued. Nothing can make them more plain; and this is one. No one, not blinded by party zeal, can possibly be insensible that the measure proposed is a violation of the constitution. The constitution requires the Senate to keep a journal; this resolution goes to expunge the journal. If you may expunge a part, you may expunge the whole; and if it is expunged, how is it kept? The constitution says the journal shall be kept; this resolution says it shall be destroyed. It does the very thing which the constitution declares shall not be done. That is the argument, the whole argument. There is none other. Talk of precedents? and precedents drawn from a foreign country? They don’t apply. No, sir. This is to be done, not in consequence of argument, but in spite of argument. I understand the case. I know perfectly well the gentlemen have no liberty to vote otherwise. They are coerced by an exterior power. They try, indeed, to comfort their conscience by saying that it is the will of the people, and the voice of the people. It is no such thing. We all know how these legislative returns have been obtained. It is by dictation from the White House. The President himself, with that vast mass of patronage which he wields, and the thousand expectations he is able to hold up, has obtained these votes of the State Legislatures; and this, forsooth, is said to be the voice of the people. The voice of the people! Sir, can we forget the scene which was exhibited in this chamber when that expunging resolution was first introduced here? Have we forgotten the universal giving way of conscience, so that the Senator from Missouri was left alone? I see before me Senators who could not swallow that resolution; and has its nature changed since then? Is it any more constitutional now than it was then? Not at all. But executive power has interposed. Talk to me of the voice of the people! No, sir. It is the combination of patronage and power to coerce this body into a gross and palpable violation of the constitution. Some individuals, I perceive, think to escape through the particular form in which this act is to be perpetrated. They tell us that the resolution on your records is not to be expunged, but is only to be endorsed “Expunged.” Really, sir, I do not know how to argue against such - contemptible sophistry. The occasion is too solemn for an argument of this sort. You are going to violate the constitution, and you get rid of the infamy by a falsehood. You yourselves say that the resolution is expunged by your order. Yet you say it is not expunged.' You Vol. XIII.-27
But what is the motive? What is the pretext for this enormity Why, gentlemen tell us the Senate has two distinct consciences—a legislative conscience, and a judicial conscience. As a legislative body we have decided that the President has violated the constitution. But gentlemen tellus that this is an impeachable offence; and, as we may be called to try it in our judicial capacity, we have no right to express the opinion. I need not show how inconsistent such a position is with the eternal, imprescriptible right of freedom of speech, and how utterly inconsistent it is with precedents drawn from the history of our British ancestors, where the same liberty of speech has for centuries been enjoyed. There is a shorter and more direct argument in reply. Gentlemen who take that position cannot, according to their own showing, vote for this resolution; for if it is unconstitutional for us to record a resolution of condemnation, because we may afterwards be called to try the case in a judicial capacity, then it is equally unconstitutional for us to record a resolution of acquittal. If it is unconstitutional for the Senate to declare before a trial that the President has violated the constitution, it is equally unconstitutional to declare before a trial that he has not violated the constitution. The same principle is involved in both. Yet, in the very face of this principle, gentle
men are here going to condemn their own act.
But why do i waste my breath? I know it is all utter: ly vain. The day is gone; night approaches, and night is suitable to the dark deed we meditate. There is a sort of destiny in this thing... The act must be performed; and it is an act which will tell on the political history of this country forever. Other preceding violations of the constitution (and they have been many and great) filled my bosom with indignation, but this fills, it only with grief. others were done in the heat of party. Power was, as it were, compelled to support itself by seizing upon new instruments of influence and patronage; and there were ambitious and able men to direct the process. Such was the removal of the deposites, which the President seized upon by a new and unprecedented act of arbitrary power; an act which gave him ample means of tewarding friends and punishing enemies. Something may, perhaps, be pardoned to him in this matter, on the old apology of tyrants—the plea of necessity. But here there can be no such apology. Here no necessity can so much as be pretended. This act originates in pure, unmixed, personal idolatry. It is the melancholy evidence of a broken spirit, ready to bow at the feet of power. The former act was such a one as might have been perpetrated in the days of Pompey or Cæsar, but an act like this could never have been consummated by a Roman Senate until the times of Caligula and Nero. -
Mr. CLAY inquired whether the question involved both the preamble and the resolution.
The CHAIR said it embraced the whole subject-matter.
Mr. CLAY having enumerated some of the topics on which he had designed to speak, relating to this resolution, gave way to -
Mr. MOORE, who again moved an adjournment: Ayes 22, noes not counted.
So the Senate adjourned.
SATURDAY, JANUARY 14. NATIONAL BANK IN NEW YORK.
Mr. TALLMADGE presented a memorial from the board of trade in the city of New York, praying the creation of a national bank, to be located in that city.
Mr. T. said he presented this memorial at the request of the committee deputed by the board of trade to con
vey it to Washington. The memorialists stated that in consequence of the derangement existing in the currency and exchanges of the country, it was important that a national bank should be created by Congress. They entertained the opinion that that was the only remedy for the evils growing out of that state of things. They prayed that Congress would create such an institution, according to the plan set forth by the President of the United States in his message of 1832. Whilst he (Mr. T.) bore testimony to the high character of the gentlemen composing the board of trade, and who had sent the memorial here, he felt it due to himself to say that he did not concur in the views of the memorialists on the subject. His views had been often expressed, here and elsewhere, so that it was unnecessary that he should say any thing on the subiect.
J The memorial was referred to the Committee on Finance.
The resolution offered yesterday by Mr. Davis, calling on the President of the United States for copies of any correspondence which may have passed between him and General Santa Anna, or any other of the authorities of Mexico, in relation to the independence of Texas, being under consideration—
Mr. GRUNDY suggested the propriety, under existing circumstances, of letting it lie for a few days, unless the honorable mover had some special reason for urging its immediate adoption.
Mr. DAVIS remarked, that as General Santa Anna was said to be now on his way to this city, with some purpose relating to the independence of Texas, it was to be presumed that some communications on the subject had passed between him, or other authorities of Mexico, and the President. It was desirable that such correspondence, if any had taken place, should be seasonably in the possession of the Senate, but he was willing to let the resolution lie till Monday; and it was accordingly laid on the table.
THE PUBLIC LANDS.
On motion of Mr. KING, of Alabama, the Senate proceeded to the consideration of the bill prohibiting sales of the public lands, except to actual settlers and in limited quantities, as amended by the Committee on Public Lands. r. WALKER said, the great principle contained in the bill now under consideration was to arrest monopolies of the public lands, and limit the sales to settlers or cultivators. The adoption of this measure would have a material influence upon the revenue of the Government and the prosperity of the country. Before investigating the details of the bill, it would be proper to examine the preliminary question, whether the great principle upon which the bill reposes is such as to recommend it to the favorable consideration of the American Senate. So long as Congress offers for sale hundreds of millions of acres of land, with no limitation upon the extent of the purchase, vast quantities of these lands must pass into the hands of a few capitalists, thus authorized and invited by the Government to make the purchase; and when these capitalists confined their operations to the acquisition of lands unoccupied by any settler, it was clearly erroneous to denounce such speculations during the continuance of the existing system. It was the system that was wrong; and so long as it was continued, any denunciation of those who purchased large bodies of the unoccupied public lands was worse than ridiculous. Such purchases had been made, and would continue to be made, by many respectable citizens, in accordance with the invitation of the Governo"; and any denunciation of such pur. chasers, would only react upon the Congress which adopted the existing system, as well as every succeeding
Congress which refuses its repeal or modification. But the question recurs, does this system best promote the prosperity of the American people? and shall we continue to invite and encourage the monopoly of the public lands by a few individuals, or so amend the existing system as to sell the public lands only in limited quantities, sufficient for farms or plantations, and thus reserve for these great and useful purposes this noble public domain? Whether these lands shall thus be reserved for sale only for settlement or cultivation, or whether they shall be permitted to pass into the hands of a few individuals, by townships, counties, and even entire States, in a single year, is the true question which we must determine. The evils of the existing system were only fully developed during the past year and that which preceded it. By the returns from the Land Office, the sales, exclusive of those at Pontotoc, Mississippi, during the first three quarters of the past year, amounted to $20,063,430, and the number of acres sold to 15,934,430. Thus, upon the same ratio, the sales of the year 1836 amounted to twenty millions of acres, and upwards of twenty-five millions of dollars; and, including the sales at Pontotec, to more than twenty-one millions of acres, and more than twenty-seven millions of dollars. In a single year, thus, a portion of the public domain has been sold, nearly equal in superficial extent to the great State of Ohio, and exceeding the superficies of five New England States, containing more than two millions of people. In this manner, entire States are swept in a single year into the hands of speculators, who may thus exercise a greater control over the destiny of these States, for half a century to come, than the national and State Legislatures combined. Can any system be devised more destructive of equal rights and republican principles? In vain shall we have struck down the feudal system, with its accompanying relation of lord and vassal, if we create and continue here this worse than feudal vassalage, this system of American landlords, engrossing millious of acres, and regulating the terms of sale or settlement. In vain shall we have abolished the system of primogeniture and entailments, as calculated to create landed monopolies, if we sustain the existing policy, by which a few capitalists may engross in a single year the ownership of States, and control the destiny of millions. An extent of territory equal to five states passing in a single year into the hands of speculators! must not this create here a landed aristocracy, without the title, but more wealthy and powerful than the sinking nobility of England? . It will establish a fourth estate, more controlling than the legislative, executive, and judicial power. It will control agricul: ture and its products, by regulating the price of landed property. It will certainly introduce into the new States the system of landlord and tenant, by, which the occupant will not be the owner of the soil he cultivates, but the tributary of some absentee landlord, who will, in the shape of an annual rent, reap nearly all the profits of the labor of the cultivator. It will establish a relation of abject dependence on the one hand, and tyrannical power on the other. It will impoverish the many, and enrich the few. It will create a war of capital against labor, of the producer against the non-producer, of the cultivator against the speculator; a war on which this Government will be arrayed on the side of the speculator, enlarging his dominión, increasing his Power, until, in a few years more, he will acquire * complete monopoly, and maintain an undisputed empire, throughout the valley of the West. - There can be no greater injury to any country than the monopoly of its lands by a few individuals; thus keeping those lands out of the hands of settlers and cultivators, and condemning vast regions of fertile lands to remain for years waste and uncultivated. The West, for many years, has been endeavoring to obtain from ConJax. 14, 1837.] Public
gress a reduction of the price of the public lands; but the continuation of the existing system is worse than a refusal to reduce the price; it is equivalent to a law raising the price to settlers and cultivators from one dollar and twenty-five cents per acre, to a price varying from five to thirty dollars per acre. It is well known that, within the last few years, vast bodies of public lands have been purchased by speculators at one dollar and twenty-five cents per acre, and resold to settlers or cultivators at prices varying from five to thirty dollars per acre. And what must soon be the inevitable result of continuing the existing system? At the rate of twentyone millions of acres per annum, speculators in a very few years must own nearly every acre of good land in the present new States and organized, Territories of the Union. When this monopoly shall be complete, and no good land remains the property of the Government, will not a still higher price be demanded for those lands by those who hold them? If we abolish the system of sales to speculators, these millions of acres of good land, now owned by the Government, will pass, from time to time, at the minimum price, into the hands of settlers or cultivators, which otherwise would be purchased by speculators, and resold by them at from five to thirty dollars per acre. Every senator who votes against this bill votes for continuing a system by which this vast enhancement to settlers and cultivators, of the price of the public lands, must soon take place. There can be no greater curse to any country, no more serious impediment to its prosperity, than the high price of its unoccupied lands. It prevents or postpones the settlement of those lands, and decreases the wealth, products, and population, of a state. It is equivalent to a decree of man, condemning to remain waste and uncultivated vast regions created by nature inexhaustibly fertile, and inviting the hand of improvement. What Senator from any new State has not seen whole townships of land remaining in the hands of speculators, waste and unoccupied, where otherwise purchases by settlers or cultivators would have been made at the minimum price of the Government, and where would now be smiling farms and prosperous villages. The Senator from Kentucky [Mr. CLAyl tells us that, under the present system, the new States have grown and prospered. No, sir; it was before the present system of speculation had seized the public mind, and when settlers and cultivators purchased the public lands at the minimum price per acre. But will it be contended that a State will flourish more by enabling speculators to sell to settlers and cultivators, at from five to thirty dollars per acre, those very lands which otherwise they would obtain at a dollar and a quarter per acre? The facts in our past history are against the argument of the Senator from Kentucky. The average sales of the public lands from 1796 to 1830 amounted to less than one million of acres per annum. Sales must, therefore, then have been made almost exclusively to settlers and cultivators by the Government, at the minimum price, when the West increased so rapidly. But what is the case now? Why, more than four fifths of the sales are made to speculators. Thus, we have seen the sales of the year 1836, including those at Pontotoc, amounting to more than 21,000,000 acres.
And the sales of 1835 - - 13,000,000 Do. 1834 - - 4,658,000 Total of sales of 1834, 1835, and 1836 - - - - 38,658,000 Total of sales from 1796 to 1824 - - - - 32,843,019
Thus it is proved that the sales of the last three years
then, at the minimum price, by the Government, to settlers or cultivators, was, in fact, the system under which the new States grew and prospered; but let any new State realize what will soon be the situation of all of them under the existing sales, when every acre of unoccupied good land within their limits will be in the hands of speculators, and not an acre to be obtained at the Government price; and can they continue, as heretofore, to increase and prosper? He who thinks so must believe that a State will flourish more rapidly by enhancing to settlers and cultivators the price of its unoccupied lands; and he who thinks so should oppose the reduction of the price of the public lands. The reduction to settlers of the price of the public lands is certainly an important measure to the new States, and one which (Mr. W. said) he yet hoped to see adopted. But this reduction of the price of refuse land, on an average, of twenty-five cents per acre, is by no means so important to the new States as the passage of this bill. If the maximum required for settlement and cultivation annually be five millions of acres, which under this bill would be sold for these purposes at one dollar and twenty-five cents per acre, but, by the continuance of the existing system, sold by speculators to settlers at an average profit of five dollars per acre, there would, by this bill, be saved annually to the settlers and cultivators of the new States twenty-five millions of dollars in the price of their lands. But admitting that of these refuse lands, long in market, proposed to be reduced, on an average, twenty-five cents per acre, a million of acres were purchased annually for settlement and cultivation, there would be saved annually to the settlers of the new States, in the price of their lands, two hundred and fifty thousand dollars; being less, by upwards of twenty-four millions annually, than is saved to the settlers of the new States by the adoption of this measure. If it were proposed at once, by an act of Congress, to transfer the whole public domain to speculators, at the minimum price per acre, what Senator from any new State would not at once object to it? Would we not all say it would be equivalent to raising to settlers the price of these lands, on an average, five dollars per acre? And yet, can we glose our eyes to the fact that, by continuing the present system for a few years, the same consequences must follow, when, could we even obtain from Congress a reduction of the price of the public lands, there will remain none worth purchasing upon which the reduction could operate? continue this system a few years, and the land offices of the United States will be abolished for all practical purposes, and offices opened in their place by speculating companies. Already has this been done in at least one of the new States, and half a million of acres advertised for sale by a single company, at prices varying from two to thirty dollars per acre. Another company is progressing with its entries, with a capital of six millions of dollars; and this, with other similar associations now formed and forming, and individual capitalists embarked in these operations, will monopolize the public domain, leaving, in a very short time, not an acre worth cultivating, to be purchased at the Government price per acre. We do not yet feel fully all the evils of the system, because in most of the new States the Government still has considerable bodies of good land for sale at the minimum price, and competes with the speculator in the market; but when this ceases, as it soon will under the present system, and every acre of good unoccupied land is in the hands of speculators, and the monopoly complete, who can foretell he high price that will be demanded? The proposition seems almost too clear for argument, that the monopoly of the lands of a State by a few individuals must deeply injure its prosperity. The Territories of the Union will suffer most by continuing
exceed, by nearly six millions of acres, the entire sales for nearly forty years preceding. The system of sales,
this system, and Florida, Iowa, and Wisconsin, re