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Forester, Fowler, W. K. Fuller, Gholson, Gillet, Gilmer, Joseph Hall, Halsey, Hamer, Joseph M. Harper, Harrison, Hathaway, Hawkins, Hawes, Henderson, Howell, Hubbard, Abel Huntington, Inge, Jarvis, Richard M. Johnson, Noadiah Johnson, Cave Johnson, Seaborn Jones, Benjamin Jones, Kavanagh, Kinnard, Lane, Lansing, Laporte, Luke Lea, Thos. Lee, Leavitt, Loyal, Lyon, Lytle, Abijah Mann, Joel K. Mann, Mardis, Moses Mason, McIntire, McKay, McKim, McKinley, McLene, McVean, Miller, Henry Mitchell, Robert Mitchell, Muhlenberg, Murphy, Osgood, Page, Parks, Parker, Patton, Patterson, butee J. Pearce, Peyton, Frankin Pierce, Pierson, Plummer, Polk, Pope, Schenck, Schley, Shinn, Charles Slade, Smith, Speight, Standefer, Stoddert, Sutherland, William Taylor, Francis Thomas, Thomson, Turrill, Vanderpoel, Van IIouten, Wagener, Ward, Wardwell, Wayne, Webster, Whallon, Campbell P. White—118. NAYS.--Messrs. John Quincy Adams, Heman Allen, John J. Allen, C. Allan, Archer, Ashley, Banks, Barber, Barnitz, 13.arringer, Baylics, Beaty, James M. Bell, Bin. ney, Briggs, Bull, Burd, Burges, Cage, Campbell, Chambers, Chilton, Choate, Wm. Clark, Clayton, Clowney, Corwin, Crane, Crockett, Darlington, Warren R. Davis, Leberry, Denny, Dickson, Duncan, Evans, Edward Everett, Horace Everett, Ewing, Fillmore, Foster, Philo C. Fuller, Fulton, Gamble, Garland, Gordon, Gorham, Graham, Grayson, Grennell, Griffin, Hiland Hall, Hard, Hardin, James Harper, Hazeltine, Heath, Hiester, Jabez W. Huntington, Jackson, William Cost Johnson, King, Lay, Lewis, Lincoln, Love, Martindale, Marshall, McCarty, McComas, McKennan, Mercer, Milligan, Moore, Pinckney, Potts, Itainsay, Reed, Rencher, Selden, Augustine H. Shepperd, William Slade, Sloane, Spangler, Steele, Stewart, Philemon Thomas, Tompkins, Turner, Tweedy, Vance, Vinton, Edward D. White, Frederick Whittlesey, Elsha Whittlesey, Willians, Wise, Young—

So this resolution was also ordered to lie upon the table. 1°ite-EMi’TION--ACTUAL SETTLERS.

The bill to revive the act entitled “An act to grant pre-emption rights to settlers on the public lands,” approved May 20, 1830, being again taken up—

Mr. VINTON opposed the bill. He observed that the Government had extinguished the Indian title to large bodies of land, and had paid for Indian improvements thereon great sums of money, averaging, probably, not less than 13 dollars per acre, (some had been appraised at 30 dollars, and some at 2 or 3 dollars, ) and now it was asked that the United States should part with these lands at $1 25 an acre. If any bill of this sort was ever permitted to pass, it ought to be accompanied with guards of the strongest kind to prevent abuscs. As matters now stood, any man might go on these lands, and whoever was so fortunate as once to obtain possession, Čven though it should be a tract with improvements appraised at 30 dollars an acre, could get the whole at $1 25. With a view to test the sense of the House upon the bill, he should move to strike out the enacting clause. If that motion should fail of success, he should then move that the bill be recommitted, with instructions to have the amount confirmed to each occupant restricted to forty acres. Then there would be some correspondence between the provisions of the bill and the reasons advanced in its support. Let the privilege of the settler be confined to the land he has actually settled, and also to lands brought into market. This would remove the most serious objections to the bill. At present it might be denominated a bill to aid and abet the designs of speculators.

He moved to amend the bill by striking out the enacting clause.

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Mr. CLAY, of Alabama, after a promise of brevity, proceeded first to remark on the letter from Mr. Graham, late Commissioner of the General Land Office, to which Mr. W1 Noros had referred, and which he insisted had reference to a bill somewhat like the present, but in a different shape. The bill, as now reported, was srce from all important objections. He denied that its operation would be to introduce again the credit system, and quoted the law to prove the assertion. Mr. V INTON said the settler was to be allowed two ycars to make his payment for the land: was not this a system of credit? Mr. CLAY referred to the fourth section of the precmption law of 1829 and 1830, by which it was expressly provided that the bill should work no delay in the sale of the land. If the settler did not avail himself of his preemption right before the President should advertise the land for sale, he lost his right; and the President might do so at any time. The law he had quoted expressly contradicted the objection, too, in reference to the lead mines. Those lands were reserved from sale; and the preemption law did not extend to lands reserved. The letter, therefore, which the gentleman had read, did not even raise an argument against this bill. It had been read when the former bill was under consideration, and had no effect to prevent its passage. So had the letter of Mr. Currie. It had at that time been stated to the House, openly, that this Mr. Currie was a land speculator, whose interest it obviously was to obstruct, and if possible prevent, the passage of the bill. As to the other objection, it had reference only to a certain district of Alabama; and were all the occupants of these lands to be deprived of their little cabins, and driven from the homes they had earned, because certain disorderly individuals lad resisted the law in four or five townships of one State? The gentleman had suggested that these lands would bring into the treasury a million of dollars; and yet the rich cotton lands in the counties of Perry and Greene had brought but a trifle over the minimum price. This was easily explained. Capitalists flocked to cvery land sale, and, by mutual agreement, obtained the lands at the Government price, or very little above it; and, as soon as they had the title, turned round and levied 100 per cent. upon the poor settler who had gone into the wilderness and subdued it. All gentlemen from the Alabamas, Niississippi, and Florida, knew this to be so. In reply to Mr. V.'s arguments, that pre-emption laws retarded the sales of the public lands, Mr. C. referred to returns, which he read, and from which it appeared that, immediately aster the passage of the last pre-emption law, the amount of salcs had risen rapidly, and in an unprecedented degree. Under the auction system the lands in Indiana had brought but one mill over the Government price; in Illinois, six mills; and in Missouri, five mills. This had been the state of things in 1826, ’7, and ’8, before the pre-emption bill had passed. The gointleman had spoken about cotton lands being worth ten to fifteen dollars an acre; and yet, in sales which embraced three millions of acres of such cotton lands, the price realized was only one dollar and twenty-seven cents, out of which was to be taken all the expenses of the sale. Now, he would ask every gentleman to put it to his conscience to say, whether such a petty advantage as the difference to this nation between one dollar and twenty-five cents and one dollar and twenty-seven cents per acre was a sufficient inducement to susser the actual settler, whose improvements have earned him a home and given value to the soil, to be thrown upon the tender mercies of the land speculators? Was any gentleman prepared to say this? Yet this was the class of persons for whose benefit this bill was intended. The man who wanted a lot of eighty or one hundred acres of land was not to be presumed a rich

man, but, ou the contrary, a poor man, whose object was,

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by labor, to earn himself a comfortable little farm, or which to support his family and rear his children.

Mr. WHITE, of Florida, said that this bill was interest. ing to all the new States and Territories in which the United States held public lands, and to none more than to the Territory of Florida. The principle and policy of the bill was well understood, and had been fully and elaborately discussed in the year 1826, and repeatedly since. The House had been at least six or seven times favored with the same speech of the gentleman from Ohio, [Mr. V1N'ro N,) with the exception of some novelties introduced, doubtless, in odium upon the scutlers and occupants for whose benefit it was now proposed. What is the principle of this bill? It proposes to give to every poor occupant who has settled upon the public lands the right to purchase one quarter section, including his improvement, for the Government price, (one dollar and twenty-five cents the acre.) It extends the provisions of an expired law, and revives the right, conferred by Congress upon former occupants, on the same terms. The gentleman has never been able, in his often-repeated speech, to convince Congress that this policy is incorrect in principle or prejudicial to the public. —Whether his threat to vote against certain internal improvements will deter gentlemen interested in them to vote against it, remains to be scen. that such an argument, for such a purpose, could meet with the favorable consideration of an enlightened Legislature.

It has been shown that no pre-emption can be made of

lands reserved for lead mines or for any other purpose.
The act of 1830, which is the basis of the one under con-
sideration, excludes these lands from this mode of sale.
The gentleman has caused a letter to be read, in rela-
tion to combinations to prevent some sales in Alabama,
by some disappointed speculators, who could not extort
from the honest and indignant settler a douceur or “hush-
money,” not to bid for his improvement. For what object
was this introduced Cui bono? Does this practice, right
or wrong, refer to any provision of this bill? These were
combinations to prevent the sale only to a confederated
company' Now, sir, this bill is intended to prevent these
very combinations complained of, by placing at the dis.
posal of these worthy and excellent pioneers, who have
penetrated the forest, made roads, and constructed
bridges, and improved the country, giving a value to all
the surrounding public lands, the right to purchase their
little homes at the Government price, without the fear of
These settlers are stigmatized as “trespassers and
squatters.” He had said before, in this House, and now
repeated, that there was no law of the United States for-
bidding settlements upon the public lands. Where is
such a law to be sound? Let the gentleman show it is he
can. The act of 1807 forbade taking possession of lands
under pretended titles; but there was in that law a pro-
vision by which the registers and receivers were author.
ized to grant permits of settlement. That act reserred to
the floating titles supposed to be held, or fabricated, after
the Louisiana cession. It originated and expired with the
settlement of the titles under that cession.
The truth is, that this law is intended to protect the
poor against the rapacity and oppression of heartless
speculators, who combine to force from them money, to
prevent their bidding for their improvements. Against
such a system, Mr. W. said, he always had and always
would continue to protest.
Mr. McCARTY asked, what new settlers, of small
means, were to do, should the bill be rejected? They
could not so land in the old States, for there was
none to sell; they could not purchase at second hand in
the new States; for they could not pay for the improve.
ments. They had no resource but to go upon the public

Pre-emption—.1ctual Settlers.

But he could not persuade himself

[JUNE 13, 1834.

lands, and there to labor, in the hope that, when these
lands should come into market, they might be able to buy
a little spot for themselves at the Government price.
With a view to obviate one principal objection to the bill,
he would, as soon as it should be in order to do so, offer
an amendment, which, he believed, had the approbation
of the chairman of the Land Committee, [Mr. Clay.] It
was to add a proviso, that the person claiming the right
of pre-emption should make oath that the land was for
himself, and that he had made no secret or other agree-
ment to transfer it to another.
Mr. CLAY said he had no objection to such a proviso,
and hoped the House would permit it to be considered as
a part of the bill.
Mr. LEWIS, of Alabama, said that, as this amendment
might do away objections to the bill, he was entirely wil-
ling that it should be added. He observed that the por-
tion of country he represented was deeply interested in
the fate of this bill. He asked no boon; he solicited for
his constituents no donation. All he asked or desircd.
was, that they should enjoy the same advantages which
had been extended to others, and which cyperience had
proved to be most conducive to the public good. He did
not ask any donation of land; he asked merely for protec-
tion against speculators; for protection against a system
which had already cost the people of Alabama from two
to four millions of dollars. What had been the practical
operation of the auction system? A poor and industrious
man had gone into the wilderness and made himself an
improvement. The land speculator had gone after him,
and surveyed his improvement; and, at the time of the
sale, he attended, in company with his coadjutors, hold-
ing among them a vast capital, (Mr. L. had known as
much as from two to three millions of dollars to be
brought to one of these land sales,) and he determines to
get this poor man’s improvement. The poor settler had
no means by which to compete with such odds; and his
only resource was to compound with the speculator, and
pay him four or five dollars an acre for what he might
otherwise have got for one dollar and twenty-five cents.
Was this a wholesome policy? The gentleman from Ohio
[Mr. WINto N] had spoken of cotton lands being worth a
large price. Mr. L. admitted their valuc; but, he asked,
when was that value ever obtained by the Government?
Whatever the land might bring to individuals, the United
States never got but a trisle over the minimum price.
What difference did it make to the Government that the
laborious settler got the land, or that the greedy specula-
tor got it? The Government received alike from both.
And was it not better that the man who had laborca for
a home should possess it, than that the overgrown capi-
talist should get possession, and then extort upon his
necessity” The plan was not new; it had been tried,

and it worked well. As to the gentleman's objections,
they were old acquaintances in that House. He had
made, in substance, the same spec ch over and over again,
and had again and again brought up this same letter of
Mr. Graham’s. The letter was not against the principle
of pre-emption rights, but only against certain details of
a bill to which it referred. The bill had, nevertheless,
gone into a law, and had in practice becil attended with
none of the evils apprehended. It had not enabled any
body to get reservations worth sistecn dollars an acre for -
one dollar and twenty-five cents. The reservations had
beea expressly excepted from the operation of the bill,
a redundant revenue had immediately flowed into the
treasury from the public lands; while the people had
been protected from the hardship of paying tribute to
speculators, to the tune of eight hundred thousand or a
million of dollars. The Government had realized as

good a price as when there had beca no pre-emptions granted.

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Mr. L. said he knew the Mr. Currie whose letter had

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been paraded before the House. He was a land specu.
lator; one of those who valued these improvements of
the poor industrious settler; and it was not in the least
surprising that such a man should be strongly opposed to
the bill. Its effect would be to defeat his plan of opera-
tions. Was this the language of a settler? No: it was
the language of a speculator.
Mr. L. said that he was not opposed to the auction
system, if it was confined to lands not improved or occu-
pied; but, if applied to these, it subjected the settlers to
a grievous oppression. The object of the bill was protec-
tion; all he asked or sought was protection; protection,
not against the Government, but against the speculators.
Mr. POLK regretted the length of the discussion; and
should have pressed for the consideration of the appro-
priation bills, had it not been for his unwillingness to in-
terfere with a measure in which a large portion of the
people beyond the mountains had so deep a concern, and
which was the first Western measure which had yet been
under discussion. The bill only revived the former law.
Here Mr. VINTON interposed, and reminded Mr. P.
that it contained also a clause allowing claims which had
been rejected by the Secretary of the Treasury. It con-
tained a new principle, and embraced a new class of
Mr. POLK resumed. In all the cases provided for by
the bill, the settler was required to pay to the Govern-
ment $1 25 an acre. The bill did not injure the Gov-
ernment, nor did it relate to the lead mines. The House,
for six years past, had constantly heard this same speech
from the same gentleman in opposition to the doctrine of
pre-emption, and the House had always differed in opin-
ion from that gentleman. He trusted it would on the
present occasion. The principle was plain and simple;
so much so, that this bill had passed the Senatc almost
sub silentio. He trusted there would be no protracted
discussion upon it. *
Mr. H. EVERETT said he doubted the policy of bills
of this description. The alleged inccessity of passing
this bill arose entirely from our former legislation. We
had from time to time passed temporary bills, giving pre-
emption rights to settlers, and by them encouraged per-
sons to intrude on the public lands, under an expectation
that future acts would be passed for their relief. Every
argument in favor of the policy of this bill applied equally
to a general law. If this bill is passed, in a year or two
we shall be called upon to pass another and another. If
this is to be done, why not at once throw open all the
public lands for a general scramble, and abolish the auc-
tion system? But, he asked, is any one prepared for this?
Why, then, are these partial temporary acts advocated?
To him, it seemed that they gave a decided advantage to
those in the vicinity of the public lands, and to the preju-
dice of those at a distance, and enabled them, from their
proximity, to take up all the good lands. The terms of
the act were vague. What shall be deemed a settlement
within the act? The blazing a few trees; the raising a
teh of potatoes? I le did not know which construction
lad been given to former acts. He had supposed it to
be loose and indefinite.
There was one view in which the settlers were, how-
ever, entitled to consideration, as connected with the
land speculators. If settlers are to be cincouraged to en.
ter on the public lands without purchasing then, he
would protect them against the speculators. But it seem-
ed there were combinations of the settlers as well as os
the land speculators; the one to defend their possessions,
and to prevent, by force, persons from bidding on their
lands; and the speculators, in turn, combine to prevent
all competition; and the result was, that, between both
combinations, the public lands were sold at a nominal ad-
vance only over the minimum price. He was not for
throwing open the public land to a general scramble;

though, rather than pass these temporary acts, he would
pass a general law. Even to protect the Government
against the combination, either of settlers or speculators,
efleetual laws should be passed. These temporary acts,
he contended, were unjust to the distant States.
Mr. DUNCAN said he felt called upon by the opposi-
tion which had been made to the bill, to offer a few re-
marks in support of it. IIe hoped the gentleman from
Ohio, [Mr. ViN'roN,) against whom so many fires had
been directed, would pardon him for giving him, and his
opposition to the bill, a passing notice. He had no objec-
tion to urge to the gentleman's course, which was uni-
formly to oppose every pre-emption and other bill tend-
ing to favor settlers on the public land, because he be-
lieved the gentleman was the representative of a very
large land interest, called the Ohio Company, who own-
ed, or had owned, most of his district. It was the in-
terest of persons owning large tracts of land to oppose
all settlements on the public land, in order to favor their
own speculations. He did not doubt that the gentleman
[Mr. Vinto N] was truly representing the wishes of his
constituents, as their interest was directly opposed, not
only to the poor settler, but the sale of all other land
except their own.
Mr. V INTON here interrupted Mr. DuNcAN, by say.
ing the gentleman from Illinois was mistaken; his (Mr.
V.'s) constituents were no speculators, and did not merit
the personal allusions which had been made. The indi-
viduals composing the Ohio Company were men of high
character; they were revolutionary soldiers. The million
of acres of land they had once held, and which had
nearly all been sold, was taken for debts due them from
the United States; this land only composed one-half of
his district; the other half was public land, situated ex-
actly as that represented by the gentleman from Illinois.
He disclaimed all such influence as had been charged
upon him and his constituents.
Mr. DUNCAN replied that he made no personal or
unkind allusion to the gentleman or his constituents; he
only stated a fact, to show that the gentleman, though
from one of the new States, represented an interest to.
tally different from the great majority of those States.
This Ohio Company had once owned a million of acres of
land. He presumed, however honorable they might be,
that they were like other men; and he did not doubt
they looked to their own interest, which they could do
justly and without reproach; and he hoped the gentle-
man would allow him to look also to the interest of his
constituents. He said he represented a very different in-
terest: his constituents were no speculators; those who
settled on the public land were generally poor men, or
men in moderate circumstances, who live by their honest
labor, and had no other view in settling than to secure
an independent home for their families. They were no
trespassers. They had been encouraged to go on and
improve the public lands by the repeated acts and set-
tled policy of the Government—a policy well known to
be as favorable to the sale of the lands and the public
interest as it is just to the scutler. It was owing to this
wise policy of inducing the hardy sons of the West to
encounter all the privations and hardships incident to
such an enterprise, that the seven new States in this
Union owe their unexampled prosperity. Who, he ask-
ed, ever heard of a wealthy man leaving case, luxury,
and society, and going into the forest, as our enterpri-
sing settlers had often done, at every sacrifice, encounter-
ing the wild beasts and savages, and depending for the
first year or two upon the rifle for a precarious subsist-
ence? He never kncw an instance; and he believed if
the vast valley of the Mississippi had never been settled
until those able to purchase the land should become the
pioneers, that it would not have reached its present state
of improvement in a century to come. He considered it

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the interest of the whole Union to adopt a liberal policy

in disposing of the public domain. To build up great and prosperous communities, he said, was infinitely more important than all the gain that ever had or would be received into the treasury from the sale of these lands. But, he said, his friend from Alabama [Mr. C lay) had plainly shown that nothing had been gained for many years by selling the lands at auction; it had added nothing to the treasury, though it had sometimes been the means of oppression to the settlers. IIe said he considered the present as a question whether this Government is willing to sell the poor man's improvement to the highest biller, and put the profits of his labor into the public treasury, which is now full to overflowing. He could not believe honorable gentlemen, understanding the subject, could ever consent to such gross injustic.c. Much objection, he said, had been made to this bill on account of an idea which had been suggested, that some persons might make speculations by taking up mill-seats, ferrics, &c. He had no doubt some instances of the kind might occur; but, in all probability, if this advantage was not secured to the settler, it would be reaped by a combination of speculators, who generally contrived to pay no more than $1 25 per acre to the Government. Mills and ferries, he said, are necessary to the settlement of the country, and those who first establish them are entitled to great favor; and no improvements could be of more benefit to the public. The gentleman from Vermont [Mr. Even Err] had said that we had as well do away with the auction sales entirely, as pass this bill. Mr. D. thought the auction sales were wrong; they have not, at cat for many years past, by the amount received on sales over $1 25 per acre, paid the expense of the auction. He had proposed to abolish those sales at the first of this session, at the same time that he submitted a proposition for granting pre-emptions, and did not doubt that it would be adopted before very long, as he believed it would be sound best for the interest of the Government and permanent improvement of the country to allow the settlers to select and purchase their homes as soon as the lands were surveyed. Mr. PLU M M ER was in favor of the principles of the bill, and made an argument at length in its support. The question was not a new one, now for the first time to be settled. It had become engrafted into the land system. He called the attention of the House to the origin and history of the pre-emption laws. The idea advanced by the opponents of the bill, that it would benefit the large capitalists and cotton planters exclusively, and not the laboring portion of the community, was erroneous. He spoke of the practical operations of the law in his own State, which he professel to understand. The settlers on the Choctaw lands did not go there in the capacity of trespassers or intruders. It was true, there was a clause in the treaty of Dancing l'abbit creek, prohibiting white persons from settling in the country until after the fall of 1833, the time fixed for the completion of the removal of the Indians. It was also true, that the Secretary of War issued orders, in 1832, for the removal, by a military force, of all those who had settled there in violation of the provisions of the treaty. Before the order was executted, lic (Alr. I’.) remonstrated. On a representation of the facts, made in behalf of the Choctaws as well as the settlers, the orders were countermanded, and the occupants allow col to remain, and others invited by the Choctaw chiefs to move into the country. By the enterprise and industry of these pioneers, roads were opened, and bridges bull, for the benefit of those who followed. They settled there with the approbation of the officers of Government, for the benefit of their followers and the General Government as well as themselves. What, he asked, would have been the situation of the country, at the time of the sales last fall, if These pioneers, so odious

and contemptible in the eyes of gentlemen on the other side of the question, had not gone there the year before, and opened tracks into the interior of the wilderness, erected cabins, and prepared bread and meat for the convenience and sustenance of the surveyors, land officers, and land purchasers? Without them the country would not have been surveyed at any thing like a reasonexpense. Without the preparation made by them, the same quantity of land could not have been sold, and those la:\ds sold would not have brought so large a price; the country would not have been examined so minutely as to justify the capitalists in laying out their money. No one knew better than the honorable Speaker and himself, the difficulty of obtaining shelter for their heads, and provision for themselves, at the Chocchuma sales last fall, even with the aid of those enterprising settlers who had been there one and two years, and made crops. He (Mr. P.) being in bad health, procured a shelter in a log cabin, with a dirt floor, to sleepin; but the Speaker, [Mr. Bell, J he believed, camped out altogether, under cover of a large trec. if it had not been a fine fish country they must have suffered for eatables. * By means of these pre-emption claimants, the large capitalists, speculators, and men of wealth and fortune from Virginia, Georgia, and the Carolinas, were enabled to follow their trails in their carriages, with their families, into the wilderness, one and two hundred miles remote from the old settlements. By their enterprise and industry the advantages and resources of the country, were opened to their view. By their being permitted to locate there, on public lands, the property of the Government was enhanced in value fourfold. He then appealed to the justice, liberality, and magnanimity of gentlemen, and asked if it was right, equitable, just, or expedient, for these hard-working, laborious, enterprising, and moritorious individuals, to be compelled to go into market, and contend for their own labor, and, if unsuccessful, their wives and little ones turned out of house and home, after having toiled with their own hands, by day and by night, to erect an humble cottage to shelter them from the chilling winter's rains and the heat of a scorching summer's gun? The settlements were contined to poor lands, or those of a middle quality. Very few of these occupants were on first-rate cotton lands. The gentleman from Ohio [Mr. Visoros) was mistaken in supposing that large capitalists, or cotton planters, were in the habit of opening plantations on public lands. Many of these settlers had, on their arrival, but one horse, a few head of cattle, and the means of purchasing but a few months’ provisions. To deprive them of their homes was ungratesal, ungenerous, and impolitic. They ought to be encourag, d. He would not put in for them a plea of poverty. Ise did not ask the extension of the pre-emption privilege to them as an act of charity. He claimed it as a mattor of right. Hundreds of them were deprived last year of the benefit of a pre-cmption law, passed expressly for them, by the erroneous decision of the land officers, which he hopcd yet to get reversed. Mr. P. discussed at length the merits of the bill and its various provisions, and pointed out its practical operations, which would bencsit a valuable portion of his constituents, and probably not keep five hundred dollars out of the national treasury. Mr. CLAYTON said he should not have taken any part in this debate, were it not that he was a member of the Committee on Public Lands. He should say but a few words. It was manifest that the settlers must, in any event, get their land; and the only question was whether they should get it directly from the Government, on the payment of the minimum price, or be left to purchase it from the speculators. Was it not better that the Government itself should extend to them the right of preemption, than that it should turn them over to the tender

Just 13, 1834.]

mercies of the speculators? In the name of all that was
joist and all that was creditable, let the Government ex-
tend its protecting hand. Why should it suffer its lands
to pass into the hands of those who, paying no more into
the treasury than the poor settlers themselves, would
thus purchase the power of oppression? Mr. C. said he
had investigated the subject; and the result of a careful
examination had satisfied him that the auction system had
brought into the hands of Government but a few cents
over the minimum required by law; and would the House,
for such a contemptible gain as this, throw an enterpri.
sing and industrious class of men into the absolute power
of those whose sole end was gain, and whose tender mer-
cies were cruel”
Mr. VINTON said it was not his intention to reply to
the many answers, as each gentleman had denominated
his own speech, to the remarks made by himself when
on the floor before. He could not, however, help say-
ing it was somewhat remarkable that from half a dozen
to a dozen gentlemen have felt themselves under the
necessity of replying, with great zeal, to what they have
been pleased to call an old speech. He could not but
think it had something in it, old as it might be, or it would
not have been considered necessary to repeat at least a
dozen answers; and, so far from being satisfied, there
are apparently yet a dozen more repetitions of it to come
from other gentlemen.
It might, however, be proper for him to notice one
fact adduced by the gentleman from Alabama, [Mr.
Clax, and urged by him to show that the Government
will lose nothing by this bill. He read a statement from
the General Land Office, that the sales of the public
lands, for eight or ten years past, had averaged only about
2 1-3 cents beyond $1 25, the land office or minimum
price. Now, sir, that gives no information at all upon
the subject under discussion. It will be recollected that
the public lands are never exposed at public sale but
once, and ever after they are subject to sale at a fixed
price. In the State of Ohio, for example, very little, is
any land, was offered at public sale during that time; it
had all been offered at an earlier period. The sales in
that State, and the great mass of the lands sold in the
other States, during that time, were of lands that had
been offered at public sale, and were sold at the fixed
price. The statement exhibited by the gentleman ag-
gregates into one mass all the sales at public auction and
private sale, and finding the average of the whole to
exceed the dollar and a quarter by only about two per
cent., he thence infers that two and a third cents is all
the advance that is obtained on the land actually sold at
auction. Instead of the statement exhibited, the gentle-
man should have brought here a statement of the sales
at auction, and of them only, and shown their average.
The fact then would have been worth something. How
does the fact which he exhibits show that the lands ac-
tually sold at auction do not bring an average of five or
ten dollars? Is it not a fact, that before the pre-emption
policy obtained, the cotton lands in the gentleman's own
State (Alabama) sold at auction at ten, fifteen, twenty,
and at all prices, as high as seventy dollars the acre, and
that these sales were very large in amount?
[Mr. CLAY explained, and said those sales were under
the credit system.]
Mr. W1 Noro N said that made no difference. The law
which required the public lands to be offered at auction
in the first place, before they were sold at the fixed
price, had undergone no change when the credit was
abolished, or since. It is true the price was reduced
seventy-five cents on the acre when cash payment was
required, but that had no bearing whatever on this
question; and if lands worth ten, fifteen, or twenty dollars
per acre, were set up at auction, instead of being given
up to those who took possession of them at a dollar and

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a quarter, he could not understand why they would not
sell at an advance now, as well as formerly. And it was
a main objection against the bill, that it operated a virtual
repeal of the law requiring the public land to be first
offered at public sale, and had the effect of bringing
down the most valuable lands to a level, as to price, with
what the gentleman calls “the refuse lands.” And, he
again repeated what he said when up before, that, if the
bill passed, it was a virtual sacrifice of all the valuable
lands and improvements, bought of the Indians at high
prices, of the Red river and other valuable cotton
lands yet to come into market, and of the mineral coun-
try in and above Illinois.
Mr. V. said he should not have risen at all, but for an
aspersion, as he deemed it, cast upon a part of his con-
stituents by the gentleman from Illinois, [Mr. DuscAN.]
That gentleman had informed the House that my district
was the property of a company of great land speculators,
who had an interest in keeping squatters off their lands,
and were therefore naturally opposed to granting them
favors. He had explained to the gentleman at the time,
that the proprietors of the Ohio Company’s purchase, to
whom he had allusion, did not buy on speculation. But
the gentleman had thought proper, notwithstanding, to
repeat that they were speculators. Now, sir, this bill is
nothing to them. You have no power to put settlers on
their lands; and if you do, they have means, beyond the
reach of your authority, of putting them off again. The
Ohio Company’s purchase was no land speculation. It
was a tract of country sold, at an exorbitant price, to the
officers and soldiers who had fought the battles of the
Revolution, as the only compensation they could get, or
you had the ability to give. As the only chance of getting
any thing for their claims against you, they were com-
pelled to leave the abodes of civilization, at the close of
the Revolution, and plant themselves in the very heart of
the wilderness, and in the midst of danger, hundreds of
miles in advance of your population. There, with arms
in their hands, they cleared up and cultivated their fields,
and gave form and being to a system of laws and social
organization which have extended to the gentleman's
own State, and whose influences will go down to the
latest posterity. The gentleman could not expect him
to sit silently by and hear him deal out any opprobrious
insinuations against the Putnams, the Butlers, the Greens,
and other venerable names, which took the lead in that
association. If the gentleman regards land speculators
as opprobrious, then he furnishes the measure of estima-
tion in which he himself is entitled to be held, as he had
understood the gentleman was a land speculator.
[Mr. Du Nc AN explained, and said he did not intend to
use the term in an offensive sense; but used the fact of
their being large holders of land for sale to show they
had an interest in preventing the passing of a bill which
would have the effect to depress the value of their lands.]
Mr. WINto N said the explanation of the gentleman
showed he was as ignorant of the condition of the coun-
try about which he had undertaken to speak as he was
of the men who owned it. There never were any great
land proprietors in that district of country. About a
million of acres, at the time of the purchase, near half a
century ago, were divided into near a thousand equal
shares, intended for settlement. And the natural changes
and subdivisions since that time have brought about a
state of things as far from land monopoly there as in the
Atlantic States. He would say, in conclusion, that if the
effect of the bill would be, what its object was said to
be, to enable poor people to get little homes, who had
not the means of going into the land offices and buying
a little tract of land, he should be reconciled to the bill,
however he might doubt its policy; for he professed to .
entertain towards that class of people as much good feel-
ing and kindness as other gentlemen. But two years ago

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