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[Fen. 2, 1837.
v selections of said quarter sections, before the first day of June next. “Sec. 3. And be it further enacted, That all lands which have been offered for sale twenty or more years, and remain unsold, shall hereafter be sold at fifty cents per acre; all lands which have been offered fifteen or more years, and less than twenty years, shall be hereafter sold at seventy-five cents per acre; and all lands which have been offered ten or more years, and less than fifteen years, shall hereafter be sold at one dollar per acre: Provided, That not more than one hundred and sixty acres shall be sold to any one purchaser, nor to any other than actual settlers, at such reduced prices, “sec. 4. And be it further enacted, That the consent of the United States shall be, and hereby is, given to the States within which the public lands are situate, to impose and levy a tax on all lands which may hereafter be sold by the United States within their respective limits.” Mr. SEVIER demanded the yeas and nays on this amendment, and they were ordered. Mr. WALKER opposed the amendment, as likely to insure the defeat of the bill, inasmuch as there were the most decided indications of a settled majority in the Senate opposed to the graduation principle. He argued to show that the principle of taxation had proved insufficient to keep down speculation; and, as to the pre-emption clause, it was so little better than the present system as to confer no valuable boon on the new States. Mr. SEVIER said: I am glad that the Senator from Tennessee has offered this amendment. I shall vote for it; and I ask if there is a single Senator representing one of the new States who will vote against it? Would any such Senator vote against the right of pre-emption, if that stood alone in the bill? Or if the principle of graduation stood alone, would any Western Senator vote against it? Not one. Or if the bill contained only the provision for the taxation of land as soon as it is entered, is there one who would vote against it? I am sure there is none. Now, here are these three great features of graduation, pre-emption, and taxation—the three chief objects of desire to Western men—all united in this amendment. We all know that one or the other of these principles must be in any land bill brought forward here, or it would not be discussed for a single hour. There is not a Senator from any one of the new States who dare vote for a bill that did not contain one or more of them. But here is a bill that contains them all. As to the provision in the bill from the committee to restrain the sales of the public land, it is all nonsense. Has not the President of the United States the power of restriction in his own hands? Has not the incumbent now in office had that power at any time he chose to use it? And will not his successor have the same? He can withhold the lands from sale whenever he pleases. They cannot be brought into market but by his proclamation. But the truth is, he has never offered them fast enough for our prosperity in the West. We have had to petition him again and again, before he would do it. If the great objection is, that the money for the new lands comes too fast into the Treasury, the President can stop the sales at pleasure. No proclamation, no sale....The graduation principle has been struck out of the bill; and, without that principle, dare any Senator from the new States to vote in favor of it? You know they dare not. But here, as I said, is a bill which contains the three principal things we have been endeav. oring to obtain. #y part, if I cannot get all three, I will take two, if I cannot get two, I will take one. This rostriction was put into theiand bill to get it friends; but, when we lost the graduation principle, 1 was then again.” bill...Then it was proposed to provide for . perpetual pre-emption. As long as that was in the bill, i went for it; but when that too was stricken out, I was
against it. As the bill stands, the cases of those who have settled on lands since last December are not reached. The bill gives pre emption only to the emigrants between June, 1834, and December, 1836. Is that the great boon that you offer us? But, even then, the settler must have cultivated the land for three months next before December; that is, during the months of September, October, and November. Can any man get a preemption right on such terms? Not one. He is required to cultivate, and every one knows there can be no cultivation. He must cultivate just at the time when we are picking our crop. Pre-emption right, therefore, as the bill now stands, I reckon as nothing; for, in practice, it will come to that. The restriction upon oaths, too, was a bitter pill to me; but I did not mind that so much. But the settler must reside upon his land two years, or he must clear up one tenth part of it, before he can get a title. Now, take out the pre-emption principle, and put in this provision, and how many will vote for your bilio Is there a man here who will vote for this alone? There is not one. But here is a bill which strikes out all these, and gives us just what we want. Shall we hesitate to give it our support? I feel no hesitation in the matter. I shall vote for it. As to the committee's bill, it has got to be a little worse since I determined to vote against it. There is a clause in it now that I myself, out of old friendship for the Senator from Pennsylvania, helped him to get inserted—allowing a man to purchase for his children at private sale; but when I voted for that clause, I thought that the whole amount any man could enter under it was one section. But last night it was extended to all the public lands, and a citizen of the old States was allowed to enter a section for each of his children; and one gentleman wanted to extend it to all his nephews, and neices, and grandchildren; but that would not go down. But the section, as it stands, is bad enough; it gives a non-resident threefold the advantage which is enjoyed by the actual settler. He may enter more land; he is exempt from the necessity of cultivation or residence, and he has a patent mode of freeing himself from all his debts. He has only to invest the money that ought to go to his creditors in the public land, and he has an estate for his children, and is beyond the reach of any one. But the Senator from Mississippi [Mr. Walken] wants
us to believe that a power to tax the land would operate as no check upon speculation. In Arkansas, we have not taxed our entered lands yet, but the lists are furnished and the law will speedily go into effect. The tax imposed by our Legislature is one third of one per cent. upon the value of the land. Assessors are appointed; they go and examine the land of the squatters, and ascertain what it is worth, and then the law taxes it one third of one per cent. Now, a speculator will sometimes hold land enough to cover a whole county; and when this tax is laid upon the land that he is holding up for better prices, he cannot stand it, but is compelled to sell the land to pay the taxes. And I say that this will always operate as an effectual security against the excess of speculation. On the whele, I shall vote for this amendment with pleasure. It takes away the bitter dose that made the bill from the committee so nauseous; and, if any danger is apprehended from excessive sales, and a consequent surplus in the Treasury, the President has power to stop the sales. I should be glad to know how speculators are going to get hold of the land under this amendment. There is but one way for them; and that is, to turn squatters themselves. I shall vote for the whole amendment as it stands; and, if it is amended by striking out any part of it, I shall still vote for it, as long as it retains either one of the three great features which recommend it to me... But I conclude with repeating what I have already said, that any land bill must have in it Feb. 2, 1837.]
one or other of these features, or it does not get my
vote. Mr. BLACK expressed his approbation of many parts of the amendment, but thought, as there was no prospect of the most material parts of them being adopted, that their discussion would delay the bill. The attempt to introduce the graduating principle had been made several times, and failed, and it was useless, he thought, to try it again. As he preferred going on with the bill, faulty as it was, he must vote against the amendment. Mr. BENTON thought that one of the main objects of the bill had been almost taken away by the principle introduced by the aniendment of the Senator from Pennsylvania. He was in favor of all the objects embraced by the amendment of the Senator from Tennessee, but he despaired of seeing them adopted, the votes on the graduation principle having been so often taken and decided against them that he had no hopes of seeing it introduced for at least two or three years to come. Mr. B. took a review of the speculations in the public lands several years ago, which had resulted in so much ruin and distress, and likened the present rage for speculation to that in the above period. He did not, however, despair of seeing the graduation principle in time introduced, though it could not be done now—the darkest hour in the night being that just before the morning. Though he approved of the objects embraced in the amendment of the Senator from Tennessee, he must be compelled to vote against it, as he wished the bill to go on. Mr. WHITE said he was gratified to find that the principles of his amendment were approved of by several gentlemen, and he was the more gratified that no one had been able to offer any argument against it. Mr. BENTON then observed that as he considered it of importance that the Senate should act with a full understanding of the amendment just offered, so much of which he approved of, he would do what he had not before been willing to consent to since the land bill was under discussion; that is, he would move that the bill be laid over for the present, in order that the amendment might be printed, and laid on their tables in the morning. Mr. EWING, of Illinois, rose and addressed the Chair as follows: Mr. President: I hoped that no circumstance would have arisen, pending the discussion of this most pertinaciously contested subject, which would make it necessary for me to solicit the attention of the Senate for a single moment; that hope, however, has proved a vain one. Honorable Senators (especially the gentleman on my lest, from Ohio) seem to have taken the interest of a portion of my constituents into their especial care and keeping. Whenever gentlemen are at a loss for a case of fraud and perjury whereby to elucidate their objections to the bill on your table, they conjure up a creation of the imagination, and give it a local habitation in the northern part of Illinois; but more particularly do we have reiterated recurrence to the far-famed, much-talked-of, and littleunderstood, Beaubien claim. Sir, if we were to take for granted all we have heard about this celebrated claim, we would be forced to the conclusion that the whole matter, from its very inception to the present moment, has been involved in mystery, fraud, and perjury; that the claimants, officers, and all in any wise concerned, have acted dishonest parts in relation to it. Now, sir, what does the honorable Senator [Mr. Mohnis] know about the subject? Nothing, sir, literally nothing. Col. Beaubien has occupied the place he claims the last twenty consecutive years; he occupied it at the time when the Senator would not have ventured within a hundred miles of it; he occupied it in times of great peril, in times of adversity, and in times of prosperity; he occupied it when it was totally without value, when not a Senator
would have given a cent an acre for it; and he now has possession of it, when it is worth a million of money. How was this tract of land entered? Why, sir, as I have reason to believe, in the manner that all pre-emption claims should be. Beaubien's papers were regularly and legally made out, and proven, according to the prescribed forms, in the presence of the community; presented to the officers, accepted, the money received, and the certificate issued. The tract was advertised and proclaimed for sale as other lands were, at the same time and place; was not marked (as I am informed) on the plats furnished by the General Land Office to the of. ficers at Chicago, as the other reserved lands were. Open and proclaimed for sale, what course was left for the officers to pursue but that which they did, fearless of the clamors and shouts of collusion and fraud, which were raised by the avaricious and interested about their ears? Of the officers I am prepared to say—and what I do say I hope will put an end to all reference to them hereafter—I repeat, that I am prepared to assume the responsibility of saying, in relation to the register and receiver at Chicago, that any imputation against their official integrity would be foul injustice; and that such was the malignity of their enemies—I mean those seeking their places—that had they conceived it possible to give tangibility and substance to the many rumors of which themselves were the authors, they would have at least made the attempt; but, having failed even to make that attempt, I hold the officers not guilty until it is otherwise shown. It is not my purpose, Mr. President, to argue this case. It has been, and is now, before the judicial tribunals of the country. Its discussion here might in some respect affect the ultimate decision of the case, and prejudice the just rights of the weaker party; for all know, that in a contest between an individual and the United States, his must be a plain case, and he of much forbearance and long suffering, before he can expect to have common justice done him, especially if it be an arithmetical calculation of dollars and cents. Since, however, I have taken the floor, I hope I may be excus. sed for occupying the attention bf the Senaté for a few minutes longer, which shall be devoted to the subject now under consideration, especially when it is recollected that any question touching the sale of the public lands is deeply interesting to the Western people, and that the peculiar circumstances of the State of Illinois at this time render the subject particularly important to my constituents. The recent influx of population into the State has been great beyond all precedent. . During the period of my own residence in Illinois, I have seen the number of people swell from 40,000 to nearly 400,000; and those immense prairies, which at one period were supposed to be doomed to lie for ages an unproductive wilderness, are now beginning to be covered with an industrious, honest, and enterprising race of farmers. The last three 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; and it will swell and roll on, until the plains of that fertile region shall be peopled with American citizens. The largest portion of this active emigration are farmers—persons seeking homes and a soil from which to earn a livelihood, and, of course, purchasers of public lands. Their relations to the Government, therefore, in reference to the public lands, are of the most intimate character. It is impossible to legislate on the subject without affecting their interest; and Congress cannot touch the question, in the most unimportant particular, without awakening the liveliest attention on the part of those whom I have the honor in part to represent. Sir, there never has been a session of the Legislature SENATE.]
[Feb. 2, 1837.
of Illinois, since its organization as a State, in which the subject of the public lands has not been agitated, or in which resolutions and memorials have not been addressed to this body, indicating the opinions of that people with regard to this important topic. I mention this circumstance, because it is, in itself, entitled to controlling influence with me, Looking back, sir, at the various landmarks which indicate the current of public sentiment in reference to this question, 1 find that Illinois has uniformly advocated reduction and the graduation of the price of the public lands, and the extension of the right of pre-emption to the actual settler. It has been long a subject of com. plairst that, whilst there is an endless variety of soil and situation, and corresponding diversity of value in the lands composing the public domain, the whole is offered for sale at the same price—a price equal for all locations, and invariable at all times. The Government demands its one dollar and twenty-five cents per acre for every tract in its possession—as well for the most unhealthy swamp, the steril, desert prairie, without timber or water, as the most eligible and beautiful locations and the most productive soil. With regard to every other species of property which is transferred by sale from one individual to another, the value, for the most part, is regulated by natural causes—by the demand, the quality, and a variety of other circumstances. But in this single case the Government fixes an arbitrary price, which is the same yesterday, to-day, and to-morrow; the same under every diversity of place and every fluctuation in the price of the article sold, or of the medium with which it is purchased. It is true that the uniformity of surface in the new States is great to an extraordinary degree, and that the proportion of first-rate land is correspondingly great. The inconvenience of the present system has, therefore, not been so pressing as it would have been in a country less favorably situated; and the people have submitted to this grievance longer than otherwise might have been the case. . But fertile as a great portion of the western lands undoubtedly are, there are extensive bodies of land which are of little or no present value. Immense prairies destitute of timber, covered with lakes and ponds of water; river bottoms subject to inundation; and thousands of tracts of inserior land, which cannot be speedily brought into proper cultivation. Much of this land is susceptible of improvement, and might be sold at a fair price, and settled by an industrious population; but it becomes worthless and wholly unsaleable, in comparison with the choice lands in the same region; for when both are offered at the same price, it is obvious that the best only will be taken. No man will have the remainder at the price at which it is held, and it consequently remains unsold in the hands of the Government. Of the correctness of these positions, abundant proof is found, not only in the personal knowledge and experience of every Western man, but in documentary evidence before you. The reports of the several registers and receivers, made to the Commissioner of the General Land Office, in compliance with a resolution of the Senate of the 25th of April, 1828, prove, beyond the possibility of cavil, that the price fixed upon the public domain by the Government is arbitrary, and beyond its intrinsic value. It is certainly no evidence of the value of a thing, that because an individual holds a monopoly in the article, he is able to sell it, even on speculation, at a fixed price. Suppose, for instance, sir, I possess a legalized monopoly in the bread stuffs of the country, held by the same guarantee that the Government holds its monopoly in the public domain: does any one doubt that I shall be able to command my price, though it be an exorbitant
one; or is there any more room for entertaining a doubt that in times of great prosperity speculation would be made or attempted, on the purchase and sale of this in. dispensable necessary of life? The consequences growing out of a refusal on the part of Congress to reduce and graduate the price of its lands are obvious. When a district of land is offered for sale, it is rapidly overrun by persons in search of the best tracts, which are bought up with avidity; but when the choice situations have been culled, the tide of emigration passes on to a new region, and the Government is called upon to extend its surveys, to create new districts, to establish additional land offices, and to throw into market thousands of tracts, out of which a few only will be sold. Our territory is daily and hourly expand. ing, without a corresponding increase of population; and millions of acres are thus left unsettled in the very heart of the new States, which would, by a reduction of price, be advantageously settled, and rendered productive to Government, while thousands of our enterprising citizens are following up the newly acquired territory, and roaming off to the frontiers, in search of better lands and cheaper and unmolested situations. And here, sir, I will explain what might otherwise seem an inconsistency. I have said of my own State, that it is acquiring population with unexampled rapidity; and I am proud to add, that it is rapidly advancing from its frontier obscurity to a high rank among the States of the Union, not merely by her numbers, but by the enterprise, the intelligence, and even the wealth, which is now pouring in a rich and continuous stream into her borders. In that country, which fifteen years ago was a wilderness, blooming in the wild beauty of nature, the labors of agriculture are yielding abundant harvests, an active commerce has been opened, institutions have been founded, and extensive projects of internal improvements have been authorized, under the most savorable auspices. The documents from the Land Office accompanying the President’s message, as well as information obtained from other sources, show also immense recent sales of public lands. And it may be asked why people thus prosperous should ask for relief? Why a change should be required in a system under which such cheerful results have been produced? I reply, that the growth of Illinois has been, in a great measure, confined to particular districts; the numerous entries of public lands have been chiefly confined to districts recently brought into market, while the oldest counties in the State are passed over by the emigrant, receiving little increase of population, and deriving little advantage from the wealth brought by emigration. By these means our settlements become detached; and while in a region where large bodies of first-rate land lie contiguous, a dense population and a high state of cultivation exists, there are immense tracts of inferior lands lying unimproved. These lands do not tempt the settler, when offered at the same price with those which are better; but the most of these neglected lands have a value, which can only be ascertained by a reduction of price. In some of the oldest counties, comparatively few tracts have been entered for many years; the best having been already purchased, and the residue remaining unsold. Should the price of land be reduced, hundreds of indigent citizens might be enabled to purchase homes; many of our most worthy but poor sellowcitizens occupy these lands of inferior quality, with the hope of avoiding the devouring cupidity of the heartless speculator. Having made their homes there, they would purchase these tracts if the price was reasonably reduced, and, by their labor, give them a value which has been denied them by nature. The large tracts of unimproved land lying between our prosperous settlements, and separating them from each other, impose Feb. 2, 1837.]
serious obstacles to a system of internal improvement which Illinois is about undertaking. We, sir, of the West, know that it is difficult to make roads of considerable length, when a part of the line of communication leads through an extensive district of unsettled lands, which, contributing nothing in taxation towards the first expense, and nothing in labor to keep them in repair, leaves the whole burden to be borne by the prosperous but scattered settlements which lie at distant points on the route. This objection is applicable to any work of internal improvement which we may undertake in Illinois; nor shall we be able to exert the actual energy we possess, until our population shall acquire vigor by its compactness and continuity of settlement. The only practical remedy for this evil which occurs to my mind is the principle of reduction and graduation, which has been so often and so ably urged upon the consideration of this body. If, after the lands within a certain district have been offered for sale for a named period, (as has been so repeatedly presented in the shape of amendments to this bill, and as often defeated,) and the choice tracts have been sold, the price should be reduced as has been proposed, the tide of emigration would roll back, and other selections would be made, embracing as large sales as had previously been made. After another term of years had expired, a further reduction in the price would take place, and the attention of the crowd of purchasers, who would be pressing towards the frontier, would be called back to the lands which they had but recently passed over. At every reduction, the intrinsic value of the land would be developed, and new sales consequently effected. The United States would thus rapidly dispose of her lands, instead of encouraging the expansion of her territory, and the diffusion of her citizens, which are already taking place, and must continue to do so, under the operation of a variety of active causes. She would balance, control, and regulate that tendency which is driving our population, with undue rapidity, beyond the borders of our States, and would commence a process which would soon produce a more compact and vigor. ous settlement of the country. The last period of reduction having arrived, little or no land would be found in the market, and the Senate would then have the proud satisfaction of witnessing the consummation of a protracted act of justice to the public land States. It would see those States placed on an equality with their elder sisters of the confederacy, and in the possession and enjoyment of all the rights, privileges, and immunities, of the original States; your federal offices within their limits removed, and the anxious care of the General Government over the public domain forever cease. It is to me no small recommendation of this salutary measure, that it has received the decided approbation of our venerated and patriotic Chief Magistrate. In his message of December, 1832, he remarked: “In examining this question, all local and sectional feelings should be discarded, and the whole United States regarded as one people, interested alike in the prosperity of their common country. It cannot be doubted that the speedy settlement of those lands constitutes the true interest of the republic. The wealth and strength of a country is its population, and the best part of that pop. ulation are the cultivators of the soil.” In his message of the 4th of December, 1833, he says: “On the whole, I adhere to the opinion expressed by me in my annual message of 1832, that it is our true policy that the public lands should cease, as soon as possible, to be a source of revenue.” And again: “I do not doubt that it is the real interest of each and all the States in the Union, and particularly of the new States, that the price of their lands should be reduced and graduated; and, after they have been offered for a certain number of years, the
refuse remaining unsold ought to be abandoned to the States, and the machinery of our land system entirely withdrawn.” He says in his last annual message, in reference to the restriction of the sales of the public land to actual settlers, that “it remains for Congress, if they approve the policy which dictated this order, (al. luding to the Treasury circular,) to follow it up in its various bearings. Much good, in my judgment, would be produced by prohibiting sales of the public lands except to actual settlers, at a reasonable reduction of price, and to limit the quantity which shall be sold to them. Although it is believed the General Government ought not to receive any thing but the constitutional currency in exchange for the public lands, that point would be of less importance if the lands were sold for immediate settlement and cultivation. Indeed, there is scarcely a mischief arising out of our present land system, including the accumulating surplus of revenue, which would not be remedied at once by a restriction on land sales to actual settlers; and it promises other advantages to the country in general, and to the new States in particular, which cannot fail to receive the most profound consideration of Congress.” Sir, these sentiments emana'ed from a source entitled to our confidence—srom the Executive of our country— from an enlightened and venerable patriot, whose eminent services and unwavering love of country, and purity of purpose, have won for him a popularity and fame which have never been surpassed. Mr. President, I assume the position that the public land States are entitled to more indulgent and magnanimous legislation at the hands of Congress than many honorable Senators seem disposed to extend towards them. The perils, privations, and sufferings, of those who preceded us into the wilderness, who have performed the work of reclamation by opening roads and farms, building houses and bridges, in the preparation of the country sor (perhaps) a less meritorious but more wealthy class of citizens, and in the creation of the necessary facilities of easy and convenient intercom. munication, constitute, in my poor opinion, considerations of great merit, and should have a marked influence on the action of Congress in all questions touching the interest of the actual settler. Sir, these much-abused frontier settlers form a distinctive class of men, little understood by their transmontane brethren. Proud and independent, generous and hospitable to a fault, brave without consciousness of danger, they raise up a bulwark between the denser portions of our population and the incursions of the savage! Standing as constant sentinels on the outposts of the country, daily accustomed to scenes of peril and privation, they acquire a character for daring and courage that no danger can appal, and which belong to no other class of men, Free from all the vices of populous communities, and their conse: quent temptations, we hear of few or no instances of crime amongst them. What stranger, that ever visited the log cabin of our pioneers, was not safer in his person and property than in the sumptuous abodes of the rich, surrounded by the votaries of luxury and vice? Where is the instance that he did not receive a healtfelt wel. come to all the hospitalities of his humble hearth, and when he departed went forth with the blessings of its inmates? Sir, the person and property of the stranger, I repeat, are more sacred in the log cabin of the borderman, than in the marble mansion of the rich and mighty. The public land States occupy a position of great dangor and exposure. An exasperated and barbarous enemy prowl upon our frontier, extending over a distance that would cover more than half the kingdoms of Europe— from Lake Superior to the Gulf of Mexico. It is now the settled policy of Government to establish all the interior Indians on this line of frontier. Are we sure of exemption for a month at a time from alarms of Indian SENATE.]
depredations, on this almost interminable frontier? No, sir. The war cry of the fierce Sac on our Northwestern frontier had scarcely been hushed into silence by the courage of my constituents, and the gallant miners under their brave leaders, when the savage yell of the marauding Seminoles proclaimed war on the frontiers of Florida. Can we reasonably expect this state of things to change for the better? Or should we not rather apprehend increased dangers from the extension of our frontier and the continual accumulation of the Indians on our borders? It is true, we of Illinois have no longer an Indian frontier; but long, very long, will be the time before we can forget our sympathies for our brethren of those States who are exposed. Who, sir, have, and will ever have, to fight our frontier battles, but the citizens of those States and Territories occupying that frontier? Who are more willing to interpose the strong arm of their protection than they? None, sir; they have always fought our Indian battles, and will have to continue to do so. And who, sir, when a civilized Power, forgetful of its propriety, makes war upon us, are the first to rally under their country's standard? Let the victorious ficlis of the Thames and New Orleans answer. Besides, sir, 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, constitute strong claims upon the more generous legislation of this body. We have heard iterated and reiterated complaints of combinations amongst the actual settlers; we have been favored with the reading of their articles of association at the Secretary’s desk; gentlemen declare that these combinations and associations are formed for the avowed object of setting at defiance your laws and Treasury regulations in relation to the sale of the public lands. If this be so, allow me to inquire, is it wise legislation to refuse to pass a law, the enactment of which would prevent the violation of existing laws, and avoid the recurrence of those deprecated consequences? Is it conformable to your views of common sense and common justice to refuse the re-enactment of a law (the pre-emption principle of this bill, for instance) because that law has been in some instances set at defiance and its provisions evaded by the wicked and vicious? To refuse your assent to the provisions of a bill that would make glad the hearts of ten thousand meritorious and good men, because some half dozen unprincipled individuals had made fortunes by the evasion of these principles, and the commission of perjury Sir, I flatter myself, not, I trust, with the vain hope, that this honorable body will be governed by more elevated views in its legislation on a subject so vitally, interesting to so large a portion of these States. Pass this bill, and these much-abused associations will dissolve into their original elements; they will no longer exist. Give the actual settler but the poor privilege of pre-emption to a quarter section of your bound. less domain, embracing his domicil, and, as far as it will go, his improvements; then you will no longer hear of these unlawful associations, as gentlemen are pleased to call them. Do but this, then the actual settlers will cease to demand six hundred and forty acres or more. In the absence of some law securing to the actual settler his improvements, which he acquired under circum*lances of great privation and hardship, these associations will continue to exist until every acre of the two hundred millions that you now vauntingly boast the possession of will have been sold, and until the last acre of another, two hundred millions is bought and sold; nay, ... until the lost traction on the Pacific is disposed of They hose osted ever since the national domain has been national property; and such is their moraj power,
that no force dare attempt to suppress them by violence, But enact now and continue in force a liberal and just system of law in relation to the public domain and rights of the actual settler, and these conventions of the settlers will cease to exist, and in a few years be among the for. gotten things. Who are these actual settlers, whom I boast of as being my constituents? They are men respectable in all the relations of life. . As farmers, as mechanics, physi. cians, teachers, ministers of the gospel, &c., men en. gaged in the honest pursuits of agriculture, building up towns and villages, establishing schools and churches, creating all the various of machinery of intelligent and respectable society, men having regard for the maintenance of good order in society, of elevated morality—yes, elevated morality; that is the word-–and anxious for the promotion of the intellectual and moral culture of those around them, and those that are to come after them. These, sir, in brief, are the men that constitute my actual. settler constituency; and moreover, sir, they are men that know their rights, and, knowing them, are determined to maintain them; and it is these, too, that compose these associations, of which some Senators seem to entertain such a holy horror, and about which you have so much embellished declamation from every quarter of this chamber. Mr. President, it has been charged that those of my constituents who attended the late sale at Chicago entered into private and unlawful combinations, for the declared purpose of putting down competition at the sales. Sir, the imputation is unfounded. They did, it is confessed, unite with one another for mutual protection and the security of their property against the rapacity of the land robbers, who infested every avenue to the office, like the frogs of Egypt. Thus far they went, and no farther, and this I have always considered a most praiseworthy act; I stand here their vindicator for it. It is equally incorrect that, after having secured their pre-emption claims at these sales, the same purchasers rose up like hordes of Tartars, and pitched their encampments upon the beautiful plains of Rock river. Not so, sir; I am happy to have it in my power to state that this incomparably fertile and healthful region is now covered by a fresh set of emigrants, composed of some of the most useful and intelligent constituents of Senators from all the Northern and Middle States; and I mention it as one of the many instances of the unparalleled rapidity with which the West, and especially Illinois, is settling and improving. Scarcely had the footstep of the hostile Sac been obliterated, or the smoke of the last watch fire disappeared from view in the distant horizon, when the Northern hive poured down its best population upon us. It is these, and not those who purchased their lands at the Chicago sales, that now inhabit the Rock river country. But they are the same in all that constitutes the character of good citizens and useful members of society. The one, however, is secure in the legal occupancy of his rightful possessions, whilst the other, is anxiously awaiting the action of this Legislature for thc extension of its long-established munificent policy to them, for the security of their dearest interests. Mr. President, there are provisions in the bill now under consideration which I think restrictive in the extreme, and which I feel certain will not be acceptable to the settlers on the public lands; but I am equally certain, from repeated efforts made pending this protracted dis: cussion, that the objectionable portions of the bill cannot be stricken out, without endangering its passage. it herefore feel disposed to yield my objections to the vicious parts, in order that the good may be retained. Letitgobefore the people. Let it undergo the ordeal of their outny, and if they reject it, then will it be the duly 9f Congress to repeal the obnoxious provisions, and give us.” more equitable and liberal system of law on this subject.