The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 27, July 1923 - April, 1924 Page: 109
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Notes On the Colonization of Texas
speculators. The credit system naturally stimulated speculation,
and after the War of 1812, with wildcat banking unrestrained and
paper money abundant, a veritable frenzy swept the country.
From 1815 to 1819 the government sales alone were nearly twelve
million acres, of which more than five millions were sold in 1819.
The evils of the credit system were obvious enough, but the poli-
ticians managed to retain it until 1820, when Congress passed a
law, effective July 1, reducing the minimum quantity that could
be bought to eighty acres and the price to $1.25 an acre, which
must be paid in cash. Partly from the effect of this, sales fell
from 5,110,000 acres in 1819 to 1,098,000 in 1820 and to 7"81,000
in 1821. They did not again reach a million acres until 1829.3
Then, with seventy-two million acres surveyed and on the market,
Benton railed at Senator Foot's suggestion of discontinuing sur-
veys as a scheme to limit sales "to the refuse of innumerable
pickings," to break and destroy "the magnet which was drawing
the people of the Northeast to the blooming regions of the West.'"'
The western states were extremely sensitive to any measure that
might check immigration in the slightest degree, and the fron-
tiersman demanded virgin land of well nigh limitless area upon
which to fix his location.
Co-operating with the introduction of the cash system to check
the sale of public lands, the panic of 1819 carried distress and
bankruptcy throughout the west, and coincidently the inaugura-
tion of sound management in the Second United States Bank
put an end to wildcat banking and cheap paper money. Even
now the monotonous, pitiful story of debt, court judgments, and
dispossessions carried by the letters and newspapers of 1820-1825
burdens and depresses a sympathetic reader."
Comments of contemporary newspapers vividly illustrate the
8For this paragraph, see P. J. Treat, The National Land System, 1788-
1820 (New York, 1910), Chapters 5, 14; and A. B. Hart, "Disposition of
the Public Lands," in Quarterly Journal of Economics, I, 253.
'Debates in Congress, VI, Part I, p. 24, 21 Cong., 1 Sess.
'Jefferson, for example, writes of Virginia in 1820, "This State is in a
condition of unparalleled distress. The sudden reduction of the circulat-
ing medium from a plethory to almost annihilation is producing an entire
revolution of fortune. In other places I have known lands sold by the
sheriff for one year's rent; beyond the mountains we hear of good slaves
selling for one hundred dollars, good horses for five dollars, and the
sheriffs generally the purchasers." Jefferson to Nelson, March 12, 1820.
The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, Memorial edition, XV, 238.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 27, July 1923 - April, 1924, periodical, 1924; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101086/m1/115/: accessed December 14, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.