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The Graduation Bill.
[Mar 5, 1830.
This, he said, would leave the rate at which these lands cents. Twenty-five per cent. gain, for a single year's deshould be sold to ordinary purchasers one dollar per acre. lay, would be a temptation not easily resisted.
Considering the circumstances, that all the lands within While he was willing to fix the price at the true value the purview of this bill had already been offered at public of the best lands unsold, he was influenced by a still fur. auction, and had failed to bring one dollar and twenty-five ther consideration from going below that, either by graducents per acre, and that many of them, for many years, ation or at the first starting post. He thought it impolitic had since been held ready for entry at private sale, with- to hold out any extraordinary inducement for new settlers out finding purchasers who were willing even to pick and to purchase second, third, or fourth rate lands, by reducpurchase any of them at one dollar and twenty-five cents ing the price below the actual value of those best fitted per acre, he deemed it a fair presumption, that one dol- for cultivation. When poorer lands, in particular dislar and twenty-five cents per acre exceeded their just value. tricts, accommodated old settlers, it might be proper to He was, therefore, willing to reduce the price of this allow them to be sold at a fair price; but it was much betkind of lands to one dollar. Such a reduction would be ter, as a general rule, in political economy, both in a pubuseful to the Union at large, by rendering a speedy sale lic view, and in reference to the durable interests of new probable, and thus increasing the revenue; while, at the settlers, that labor should be expended on first rate soils, same time, it would be exercising only a rightful liberality while we have such soils, rather than on those of an to the capitalists, or to the enterprising yeomanry of the inferior quality. country, West or East, North or South, who might wish For this, as well as other reasons, which had been referto settle their sons on these lands, but who ought not to red to, on former occasions by himself, and by other genbe required to pay for them more than a fair price. tlemen to-day, he was willing, likewise, to relieve the pre
He further remarked, in the discussion on this motion, sent actual settlers. They had, by our present system, that much misapprehension seemed to exist abroad, if not been driven to cultivate poor land, in order that they might in this body, about the real value of the lands to be affect- not be in danger of expulsion from it. This land they ed by this bill. Although the quantity was large, yet it might keep at a reduced price, proportioned to its reduced consisted not of our whole public domain, nor of all that value; and to prevent this course, in some degree, hereafhad been surveyed, nor even of one-half that had been ter, he would allow the future purchasers for actual setsurveyed and not sold, but merely of the refuse of our tlement to enter at first a quarter section of the best lands sales ever since the organization of the Government. A yet unsold, and within the purview of the bill, at seventypatch here, and a morass there; a mountain in one place, five cents per acre. Coming from any quarter of the and a barren in another; and these fragments scattered Union, in search of a freehold and of subsistence, they over six or seven States of the Union, and, up to this time, would expend their hard toil on better soils, and the trearefused to be purchased by any one at the present price. sury, by getting the pay at once, instead of waiting for
Besides these circumstances to indicate that their ave-years without principal or interest, would realize a larger rage value was less than one dollar and twenty-five cents sum than to permit them, as is now the practice, to enter per acre, he had before him reports from the different land their lands, at some future period, at the present minimum districts made in 1827–8, by which it appeared that of the price. whole eighty millions of acres of these unsaleable and de He had the misfortune to differ with his colleague in retached parcels, less than one million in the Southwestern lation to the proper policy due to these actual settlers. But States was first rate land, and less than five millions in the he consoled himself with the reflection that his own views Northwestern States; that of the residue, about one-half, were more in conformity with the previous and liberal poor nearly forty millions of acres, was considered unfit for licy of our Government on this subject; and while it worked cultivation. The average value in all the Southwestern no inequality or injustice to the old states as joint propriStates was under twenty-five cents per acre; and, in all the etors of the land, it tended to the happiness, and improveNorthwestern States, it equalled a dollar in only four dis ment, and security of many with whom most of us were tricts, and was less than seventy-five cents in all but six connected the strongest ties of society. But he thought districts. In many of those districts in the Northwest, fifty cents per acre was too low a price for even the actual where it was most valuable, this land had been offered for settlers, if they selected, as they now ought to, the best sale from six to twenty years and upwards; and for a less lands included in the bill. He wished tv keep up a due time, from two to ten years, at the Southwest, where its proportion between the purchasers to sell again or to spevalue was less, and when no probability existed that much culate, and an actual settler, and should, therefore, move to of what was left would ever be sold as high as one dollar strike that graduation from the bill if the present motion per acre.
prevailed. That would leave twenty-five cents difference, But considerable portions of this description of land in which was all he could think just. the Northwest, he believed, could be sold at one dollar The motion prevailed. per acre, and, at least, that it was worth the experiment He afterwards moved to strike out the second gradua. to offer it for purchasers at a dollar before we reduced the tion as to actual settlers, and to alter the phraseology in price to seventy-five cents. He did not, however, hesitate other parts, to conform to the amendments already made; to say, that he would hereafter agree to seventy-five cents, which motion succeded. or even a lower sum, when all the lands worth over those Mr. BENTON was himself under the deep and full sums had been disposed of. All he wanted was to act justly conviction that the bill would do best with this clause by the old States, in not taking from them any of the lands retained; but he could not dissemble that it came under under their just value, and, at the same time, to act justly the same course of reasoning which applied to the motion by the purchasers, whether in the new or old States, by not to strike out the two lower prices. The Senator from exacting exorbitant prices, and not thus driving them from Alabama (Mr. McKINLEY) was correct in his opinion of purchasing here at all, into Mexico, Canada, or elsewhere. the difference of the operation of the act in the two He would, therefore, fix the reduced price at first to one great divisions of the West. The face of the country was dollar, and not go lower till the lands worth one dollar had essentially different in the Northwest and Southwest. been sold.
In the former, the great body of the land was intermediate He was against a graduation of seventy-five cents the in its quality, between best and worst; the principal part second year for another reason. No body could wink out of it was mixed with good and bad, constituting what is of sight, that, if this graduation was retained, the lands called second rate; and for this section of the West the worth a dollar would not probably be purchased till the price of one dollar to non-settlers, and seventy-five cents second year, as they could then be hail for seventy-five to actual settlers, would find a great deal of land to ope
May 5, 1830.]
The Graduation Bill.
rate on, and for which it would be a fair price. But not eighty acres of land, who never can pay one hundred dolso in the Southwest. There the land was chiefly divid- lars, the present price; and, if they could, they would not ed into two qualities, best and worst, river bottoms of take the refuse land. great fertility, or pine woods of extreme sterility; the Sir, look for a moment at the effect of the present sysgood, worth more than a dollar, and already sold; and the tem. A great portion of these refuse lands have been in bad scarcely worth any thing. In such a country there the market for more than twenty-five years, and still rewould be but little land for the one dollar clause to ope- main unsold. Suppose they had been sold twenty-five
Still, if the motion prevailed, and the seventy- years ago, at fifty cents an acre, what would be the state five cents clause was struck out of the first section, the of the account now at the Treasury? Simple interest on same price was intended to be left untouched in the se. the principal, at six per cent., would yield, with the princond section for the benefit of actual settlers. This cipal, one dollar and a quarter an acre, the price you now would still do well; for the mass of the purchasers are ask for them. During the whole of that time, you have now actual settlers; and all these will be able to get been paying six per cent. interest on the public debt; one quarter section (one hundred and sixty acres) for which the proceeds of these lands was intended to aid seventy-five cents per acre. If they wanted more, they in paying, and which the United States promised to apmust pay a dollar for it. A quarter section will make a ply to that object. How the United States have performgood home for a man of small, or middling property, and ed this promise, will be seen in the sequel. The Sena. the great body of the West consists of those descriptions. tor from New Hampshire (Mr. Bell) admits that this re.
The bill will, therefore, accommodate the great body of fuse land cannot be sold for fifty years to come, at the the people, at one dollar for general purchasers, and se present price, for want of purchasers. How will the acventy-five cents per acre to actual settlers. It will do count stand at the end of seventy-five years? At the well in the Northwest at those prices; it will be of some end of that period, twenty-eight cents an acre, and the little benefit to the Southwest, and, eventually, may be interest upon it, would yield, at the Treasury, one dolthe means of doing full justice to that section of the lar and twenty-six cents an acre. It ought to be reflectUnion; for the passage of the bill, with the two first clauses, ed, too, that payment of money into the Treasury from will lead to the adoption of the lower rates--the fifty and this source, while the interest is running on the public twenty-five cent clauses, which suit the inferior qualities debt, operates so as to entitle every dollar of principal of the bad land there.
paid in, to compound, instead of simple interest; because Mr. McKINLEY moved to amend the bill, by striking the interest on the public debt is paid semi-annually. If out seventy-five cents per acre to actual settlers, and in compound interest were calculated, the principal sum serting fifty cents per acre in lieu thereof.
would be doubled in less than eleven years; fifty cents an Mr. McKINLEY said that the bill, without the amend- acre would pay a dollar and a quarter in less than fourment which he had just offered, could not benefit his teen years, and twenty-five cents would pay a dollar and constituents much, as the most of the lands in Alabama, a quarter in less than twenty years. If this estimate be which had not sold for the minimum price at the public correct, the United States would now be in a better consales, was of very inferior quality. lle would vote for dition, in a pecuniary point of view, than they really are, the bill, however, if the amendment did not prevail, if they had sold the whole of this refuse land twenty years because he believed it would benefit the poorer class of ago, at twenty-five cents an acre. population in the other new States, if it failed to effect
But, sir, tliese are not all the national benefits which that object in Alabama; and his policy was to make as would have resulted to the United States from this course many freeholders as possible in every part of the United of policy; thousands of individuals who are now tenants States. He considered the policy heretofore pursued in in the old States, or squatters on the public lands in the relation to the inferior qualities of public lands, essen- new States, would long since have been respectable and tially wrong. The best lands have not, for several years prosperous freeholders of lands which, by a narrow and past, brought but little more than one dollar and a quar- illiberal policy, have been held up at a price greatly above ter an acre at the public sales; and how can it be ex. their intrinsic value. pected that lanıl of inferior quality, which is passed over
But the Senator from New Hampshire (Mr. Bell.] says at those sales, and has remained subject to entry for these settlers upon the public lands are intruders, violamany years, should now sell for as much as the best tors of the laws, and trespassers against the United States; land in the market? The Senator from New Hampshire and, therefore, entitled to less favor than any other class (Mr. Bell) says, there are seventy millions of acres of of purchasers. I beg leave said Mr. McK. ] to differ with this refuse land now in the market, and the reason why the honorable gentleman from New Hampshire, upon all it does not sell is, because there are not people to pur- of these points. In the first place, the act of Congress chase it; that great quantities of lands are offered' for of 1807 was intended to protect the United States sale every year, and that just as much is sold as there against the adverse possession of those who claimed titles are people willing to purchase. The last proposition
to the lands ceded to the United States by Georgia and true, as far as it applied to the choice lands offered at France, upon titles derived under either of those powers, public sale, but entirely erroneous when applied to the previous to the cessions, until the titles could be adjudi. refuse lands.
cated; and the power granted to the President by that It bas been shown that there are about one hundred act never has been exerted, except for those purposes. and forty-four thousand white inhabitants in the new I therefore say, that those who have settled upon the pubStates, who pay taxes, and are not freeholders. A great lic lands, not claiming title adversely to the United States, portion of these are now residing on this refuse land, and are not violators of law, nor trespassers. And I say furmany of them would become purchasers if the land was ther, sir, that they are meritorious individuals, because offered at its value. of the serenty millions of acres of they have been the pioneers to all the new settlements in refuse lands, there is not one-third fit for cultivation, and the West and Southwest. They have penetrated the fonot one-fourth now worth fifty cents an acre. If this one. rest, cultivated a portion of the lands, built cabins, and fourth were divided among those citizens who are not afforded facilities to those who wished to purchase, to ex. freeholders, in the new States alone, they would have plore the lands before the sales, and to obtain supplies of about one hundred acres each. Put this land at fifty provisions for the first year after purchasing. The encents an acre to actual settlers, and you will make free- hancéd value given to the land thus improved and settled holders of nearly the whole of them. For there are a by these unfortunate people, has been put into the pubgreat number of men who would pay forty dollars for|lic Treasury. The lands were sold from under them,
The Graduation Bill.
[May 5, 1830.
which, but for the improvements they had made, and the intended at all events to give them a preference. Fifty facilities they had afforded for settling the country, would cents difference in the price would give a decided pre. not have sold for one-half the price they brought, and, ference; it would operate partly as a donation, by giving in many instances, would not have sold at all; they have up a part of the price. If, then, the price stuod at fifty been deprived of, and the United States have greatly pro- cents to the settlers, they would be entirely safe from fited by, their labor. After su the hardships, fa- speculators. If the fifty cent clause was rejected, and the -tigue, and privations incident to the settlement of a new price to settlers stood at seventy-five cents, the preference country, and being unable to purchase the lands they had to the settler would only be twenty-five cents in the acre; thus rendered valuable, what have they done? Precisely an advantage surely, and one for which he would be gratewhat the Senator from Illinois (Mr. McLean] has told ful, but not sufficient in all instances to secure him against you.
They have sought out some tract of this refuse ungenerous speculators. land, which, having a little spot upon it fit for cultivation, Mr. BELL said, he was opposed to any innovation upon and which the limited improvements necessary for the the present system of selling the public lands. They are support of a family would not, in their estimation, tempt the common property of all the States, and should be any one to give a dollar and a quarter an acre for it; and (isposed of only with a view to the common benefit of all, there they are now living, and constantly afraid to extend and not for the advantage of the inhabitants of the new their comforts, lest they tempt some individual to enter States exclusively. They are sold by the existing laws at the land, and turn them adrift again.
a price so low, that it is within the reach of every man Sir, this is a true history of these unfortunate individuals possessed of a common share of industry and prudence, who have been stigmatized as violators of the law-as to acquire a quantity sufficient to enable him to support a trespassers against the United States, and who, it has family by agricultural labor. I am opposed to any reducbeen said, ought to be punished rather than rewarded. tion of the price of these lands; but if they must be reIt is true, sir, they are poor; and, if that be a crime, the duced, I hope it will not be below the price of one dollar proper way to punish them is to hold up the land at such per acre, the sum proposed by my colleague as the price a price that they cannot purchase it. But let gentlemen to common purchasers. I am still more opposed to that recollect that they inflict this punishment at the expense part of his amendment which proposes to fix the price to of the Treasury of the United States. For, if the cal- actual settlers at seventy-five cents per acre. There is no culation of the Senator from New Hampshire (Mr. Bell] good reason why we should make a discrimination in their be correct, when he says that all the public lands belong- favor. ing to the United States cannot be sold in a century at
These settlers have taken possession of the public lands, one dollar and a quarter an acre, leaving the refuse in direct violation of the laws of the United States, and lands unsold, I presume he means, and all those who are without any pretext of title. They are intruders--mere unable to give a dollar and a quarter an acre, without trespassers, who have selected and seized upon the best land, then it would be well to sit down, and delibe- and most eligible of the public lands. Can we be justified rately calculate the number of individuals who will proba- in giving them the best lands at the lowest price, and thus bly be without land at that period, and what sum per reward them for a violation of the laws? If you make a acre, counting interest upon it for a century, would, al discrimination of twenty-five or fifty per cent. in favor of the end of that time, give a dollar and a quarter an acre actual settlers, you will sell no land but to actual settlers. for these lands, and how many of them would have been No purchaser will buy land at one dollar per acre, when able to have paid the principal sum.
he can obtain the same land at seventy-five cents per acre, In addition to this, it would be well to calculate how by making an actual settlement upon it. If the immense much the United States would have gained by the taxes tracts of land in the market, beyond the actual wants of upon this unsettled land; how much the national wealth purchasers, should be offered for sale at the reduced prices and prosperity would have been increased by the im- proposed by this bill, or even by the amendment offered, proved condition of their citizens, and their increased no man will purchase on speculation, or with the expectwealth and multiplied subjects of taxation. A few figures ation of selling to actual settlers at a profit. Such specuinade upon these subjects might aid the statesman in lations have nearly ceased to be made under the existing coming to a just conclusion upon this subject. I hope, laws, and none would be made at the reduced prices sir, the amendment will be adopted, and those unfortu- proposed by this bill. nate citizens be provided for, and all others contemplated The actual operation of this bill, as proposed to be by this bill.
amended, will inevitably reduce the price of all the pub. Mr. BENTON spoke with great ardor and zeal in favor lic lands from one collar and twenty-five cents to seventyof letting the settiers have their homes at fifty cents an five cents per acre. We have more than seventy millions
He dwelt upon the meritorious character of their of acres of public lands already in the market, upon which claims and their services. He said, many of these settlers this bill will operate. had been ten, fifteen, and twenty years in possession of Are we aware of the great reduction of the annual their little farms. They had sought for broken and infe- revenue from the sales of the public lands which must rior tracts, in order to enjoy in security their little homes, result from the passage of this law? The people of the free from the cupidity of speculators, to whom such small old States are aware of the value of the public lands as spots, as stated by the Senator from Alabama, (Mr. McKır- a source of revenue, to be appropriated for the common LEY) would not be an object, but the improvements gave benefit, and for their relief from the burthens of taxation; them value; and for the sake of these improvements there and they will require us to render to them a reason for were many ungenerous persons who would enter over the unnecessarily lessening or bartering it away for any object head of the settler, and take the home and the labor from a or motive unconnected with the common and general poor man, or a widow and her children. Mr. B. said that interest. these settlers had made improvements which cost them We have been told that these lands cannot now be sold, the labor of many years; that parents had buried their because they are held at a price above their value. This children, wives had buried their husbands, and husbands is not the true cause why more extensive sales of these their wives, on these little spots; that their affections, as lands are not made at present prices. That cause is to be well as their interest, bound them to them; that no good found in the immense quantities which have been thrown man would take away their little homes, and no bad one into the market beyond the actual demand for cultivation. ought to be allowed to do it. Mr. B. argued that all such The price of land, as of every other description of prosettlers ought.to have donations, and that this section was perty, depends upon the quantity in market, compared
May 5, 1830.]
(SENATE. with the number of purchasers. When a surplus, beyond effect on former purchasers, is manifest. Congress, while what is required by purchasers, is thrown into market, a they reduced the minimum in 1821, virtually gave a pledge reduction of price is the inevitable effect; and that reduc. to those purchasers, that the value of their property should tion will be in exact proportion to the amount of such not be destroyed by underselling them, as this bill now surplus. This has been the unsuund policy of this Govern- proposes, at a sum nearly fifty per cent. below the prices ment in relation to her public lands. We have put seventy paid by them. inillions of acres of the public lands into the market, when The kind of graduation which I am disposed to adopt, the average annual sales are only one miilion of acres. is that which is founded on an honest discrimination be
We have a quantity of land in the market sufficient to tween the value of different quantities of land. We can supply the wants of purchasers for the next fifty years; get information from our land offices, to enable us to make and we are daily increasing this quantity. The friends of that discrimination. We can ascertain what the land is inthis bill have mistaken the source of the evil of which they trinsically worth; and, so far from entertaining a hostile complain, if such evil exist. The new States have really feeling to the West, when I have that information I will increased rapidly in wealth and population. That they go as far as others, who make much greater professions of have not increased more rapidly, has not been occasioned friendship to that section of the country, in offering these by a high price of the public lands, but from a deficiency lands at a price most liberal to the purchaser, in order to of purchasers at any price. The increase of the quantity augment their population and the number of freeholders, of lands thrown into the market has gone far beyond the on whose increase we have been told so much depends. increase of our population. If the bill could create men to But I am unwilling to make a man in one district pay one become purchasers, the object expected from it might be dollar per acre for land worth not half the value of a tract attained; but if not, the lands would not be sold, even if in another district, which another man may purchase for offererl at twenty-five cents per acre.
the same price. Í view the bill as unjust to the citizens of Mr. CLAYTON moved the indefinite postponement of those districts where the land is poor. In my judgment, the bill. I am not (said he] hostile to a judicious and we ought to put it in their power also, by an honest graequitable graduation or reduction of the prices of these duation of these prices, to buy the public land for sums lands, according to their value. It is true that, of the not exceeding their actual value: but, under the operation seventy millions of acres which will be offered for sale of this bill, those who have settled on the best lands of the under the provisions of this bill, a part is worth much less country will pay but seventy-five cents per acre, while the than the minimum price established by law, while a part citizen of Ohio, for example, who may reside near a tract is worth more than that price. As the hill now stands, all which has been thirty years in market, and which could the lands which shall not be disposed of in June next will not hitherto be sold because of its inferior quality, cannot be offered to purchasers at one dollar per acre, and to purchase what is worth only fifty cents, for less than seactual settlers at seventy-five cents per acre.
This bill venty-five cents per acre. This is no graduation. It is an nerer offered a graduation of these prices on any equitable unequal distribution of public favors; and its injustice, in principle. It never did offer lands to purchasers with a liminishing the value of all the lands in the country, will just discrimination between good and bad land. Before cause a loss, amounting, in the aggregate, to millions among the bill, as it originally stood, met its death blow from the citizens of the new States, as well as a great falling off its own friends, it was, in substance, a proposition to give in the public revenue. He concluded, by urging some obaway the public domain--not to sell it by a fair graduation jections to another principle of the bill, which, as he conof prices, distinguishing between lands of the best and of sidered, under pretence of favoring actual settlers, held inferior qualities. The proposition now contained in it, is out great inducements to trespassers upon the whole pub. not absolutely to give away these lands, but so to reduce lic domain, and contravened the established policy of the the prices, that such as remain unsold at the present mini-Government, which had always been to protect these lands mum shall be
offered-all at the same price-with- from waste and pillage. out the slightest reference to the quality or value of dif. (Mr. KANE replied. After some conversation between ferent parcels, in different districts of country.
Mr. Clayton and Mr. McKINLEY, Mr. C. agreed to susThere are some districts where large quantities of land, pend his motion, to enable Mr. McKinley to move an not worth fifty cents per acre, will be offered for sale un amendment, restricting the operation of the bill to lands der the provisions of this bill, at one dollar per acre, and which had been in market before June, 1827.] when the actual settler cannot buy them for less than se
Mr. CLAYTON said that he would now renew his moventy-five cents. There are others, where those lands, tion, which had been waived for the time, to enable the which are the best in the country, will be offered at the friends of this bill to make it as free from objections as same prices. Where the land is not worth the price pro- they could. He would not debate with the honorable posed by the bill, it must remain insold; or, if it be sold, member from Illinois, whether it was good policy to enis it just to extort from the purchaser the same price for it courage trespassers on the public lands, by offering bounwhich you ask for the finest tracts you own? The great ties for the purpose. In reference to that, he would only danger, however, is, that should this bill pass, it will cause say, that from the earliest history of this Government there the destruction of the whole land system of this Govern- appeared a continued series of acts of the Legislature, and ment, and deprive this nation of a revenue exceeding a proclamations of the President, against the commission of million of dollars per annum. I will not repeat the ob- waste on the public property. Nor did he desire to be jections which I formerly urged against the original propc- understood as opposing the system which gave preference sition as it stood before the amendments this day adopted in the purchase of settled lands to the actual settler at a har si materially changed its nature. That proposition fair price. He did not design to protract the debate by had failed; but, after the gentleman from New Hamp- further discussing with the gentleman from Missouri, who shire (Mr. WOODBURY] had consoled its friends for its de advocated this bill
, (Mr. Benton] whether the inequality feat, by informing them, in the hearing of the Senate, that of value of these lands in different districts was not a suftithe present project would be a good starting post, from cient objection to the passage of this bill, which offered all which they might move hereafter in the business of redu- the lands at one price. But he again urged the impolicy cing these prices year after year, I am bound to consider and injustice of underselling the former purchasers, who this measure as the entering wedge to the same system of had paid full value for their lands, having bought them at universal donation which they have just been compelled one dollar and twenty-five cents, and much of them at two to abandon, and liable, therefore, to the same objections. dollars per acre; and who, after having paid taxes on them The injustice of so great a reduction of these prices, in its for many years, would now find millions of acres of equal
The Graduation Bill.
(Mar 5, 1830.
value, in market around them, at seventy-five cents per not freeholders, and who reside, as we are officially in
He urged that the price at which the lands were formed, in the new States and territories. Each of these to be offered to settlers, was to be regarded as the true has the determination to become a landholder, according minimum established by the bill, as most of the lands would to his wants and his ability.. A decision, then, and espe. be taken up under the pretence of settlement. He ob- cially a favorable decision, is of some consequence to the served, also, that the bill could not pass the other House, public revenue. I said Mr. K.) am unwilling again to go if it were now acted on in the Senate; and the effect of its home, and feelcompelled to give doubtful answers to the passage here would be to increase an illusion on this sub- thousand inquiries which will be made of me regarding the ject, which had already spread too far.
prospect of recucing the price of the public land. I wish Mr. BENTON objected most decidedly to the indefinite to understand the true feeling of Congress about it, and postponement. The idea that there was not time to act be enabled to kt my constituents know what that feeling is. upon the bill in the other House, was entirely fallacious. Some object ons have been made to the passage of the The subject was well understood there. The two Houses amended bill, by the Senator from Delaware, (Mr. Clar. of Congress, for many sessions, had proceeded, with equal tox) which require an answer. He objects, first, because steps, in this matter. The graduation bill had been re- a uniform price is fixed upon lands of various quality; se ported in each, at the commencement of each session, for condly, on account of what I consider its best feature, the years past. As it now stood, the provisions were so few, discrimination in favor of the actual settler. The bill, as brief, plain, and simple, that every person could under- first reported, was free from the first objection, certainly stand them at one reading; and the subject was so familiar in forn it was free from it; for it contained a graduation of to the mind, that every member will have his opinion made price to the quality to be fixed, in the only mode which up as soon as he understood them. The provisions were appears to me at all practicable. So far as it was in the now reduced to the single clauses which reduced the price power of the friends of the bill to retain that feature, their of the land, which had been offered for three years and duty had been performed to the best of their ability. The upwards at one dollar and twenty-five cents per acre, and Senate have just decided against it, and to that decision could find no purchaser at that price, to one dollar to non- we most respectfully submit. It may be satisfactory to settlers, and seventy-five cents per acre to settlers. This gentlemen, however, to know, that that decision has only is the sum total of the bill; and surely it would not take re-affirmed the principles of our land system, as it luas five minutes for any member of either House to make up ever existed, and as it now exists. By that system, whenhis mind for or against it.
ever, in the judgment of the President, the public inteMr. B.concluded, by asking for the yeas and nays; which rest requires it, a district of surveyed land, upon long and were ordered.
general notice first given, is offered for sale by public aucMr. KANE expressed his gratification at the course tion, and is sold for the highest price which can be obtain. adopted by the honorable gentleman from Delaware. His ed, but not for a less sum than a legal and arbitrary minimotion for indefinite postponement, (said Mr. K.) is made mum. Lands thus offered, and not sold, are subject to enfor the avowed purpose of deciding the fate of the bill. try at that minimum, without regard to quality. All the This course, on every account, is more acceptable than lands to which this bill applies, have already undergone that suggested by the Senator from Maine, of laying it up- this operation. If there be any thing wrong, then, in this on the table, for the purpose of printing the bill as amend- uniformity of price, in the judgment of the gentleman ed. The session is near its close, and delay will be fatal. from Delaware, he must do something more than indefiWhere is the necessity for printing? Is it difficult to com- nitely postpone this bill, to correct the errcr. He must prehend the amendments? The whole length and breadth repeal the old, long continued, and existing law, which of the bill as it now stands, its entire substance, consists in fixes a uniform minimum upon all sorts of lands. Posta simple provision, which reduces the price of the public poning this bill will leave matters just where they stard; lands to one dollar an acre, with an exception favorable and the passage of it does not alter the objectionable feato the actual settler, who is permitted to purchase at se- ture, nor increase the evil. Surely, then, sir, if this be in venty-five cents. Every body can understand this, and itself an objection, this is not the time to urgeit; for, upon every Senator has a view of the whole ground upon which this occasion, it cannot accomplish any other object than he is about to act. Why, then, delay for printing? Next to destroy this bill, without curing the evil which constiin importance to the measure itself, is an early decision tutes the objection. I pass on to another topic. A disupon it-a decision at this very session of Congress. Year crimination in favor of the actual settlers is madle, and that after year have the people of the new States, in all the is a cause of complaint, particularly with the Senator from forms which can give expression to their deep and solemn New Hampshire, (Mr. BELL.] He calls these seitlers tresconvictions of its necessity, presented the subject before passcrs and squatters. In his opinion, they have violated you. Over and over again has the matter been seriously the law in setting upon the land, ard are, therefore, (!: and fully discussed. The varying complexions of things titled to no favor. It is true, sir, that a law was passed in here, has for years alternately aroused their hopes, and 1867, to prevent settlements being made on lands ceded alarmed their fears. But to this session of Congress have to the United States. The reason of that enactment lias they looked with an intensity of expectation, which none been often stated on this foor, and is fully established by but their own Representatives can fully appreciate, for de. the uniform conduct of the Government with regard 10.ts cisive action. Let the fate of the bill then be what it may, cxecution. It was intended to accomplish a part cular a speedy decision is not an unreasonable request. There purpose. A case had arisen, or was about to arise, i are considerations of interest, of general and national inte- New Orleans, which gave origin to that law. No attempt rest, too, which recommend despatch. Those who have has ever been made by the Executive of the United States the means of purchasing land at the present price, have to enforce, generally, the provisions of that act; and Condelayed the purchase, on account of the expectations so gress have expressed, in repeated instances, a determinalong held forth from this chamber, and they will delay un- tion to prevent its enforcement. The very next year after til you decide. Those unable to purchase at high prices, tbat lau" passed, settlements made in violai on of its letter have been led to believe (a belief, too, founded upon the were legalized, and pre-emptions were secured to these most reasonable grounds) that such reductions would be men who are called trespassers. Vore than twenty laws made as to enable them to buy, and as should bring the have since passed, granting, in different fouins, pre-empacquisition of a freehold within their competency. To tion rights to settlers. Wherever the public property one or otier of these descriptions of men belong the one about to be seriously invaded, and some great injury to be hundred and forty thousand tax-paying individuals who are inflicted upon the public interests by settlers, this baw