The Congressional Globe, Volume 14: Twenty-Eighth Congress, Second Session Page: 82
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will of the government. But what he
^0^,0^, this was the right of revolution,
& 3 o^|^; eJse^-not a legal or a constitutional
of the committee was, that they
right as a legal, constitutional right.
g$&leman [Mr. Burke] says that it is asove-
I ask the gentleman (said Mr. EI.) how
fj^feigiity is exercised, but by constitutional forms
<&p by revolution? It could only be exercised in these
wa^s. Now, if this committee had set forth the
^position that the people of Rhode Island, feeling
Ui.emeelves aggrieved by the government existing
.'there, had the right to rise up in arms against the
government and subvert it by-revolution, he had no
objection to grant that right, if they regarded Rhode
Island independent of the United States. He de-
nied that its inhabitants had even any right of revo-
lution > now that the State was a part of the govern-
ment of the United States. That right had been
surrendered: the people of Rhode Island, by be-
- coming a party to the government of the United
States, had agreed that that government might be
exercised to put down revolution; and thus they had
restricted their natural right of revolution. And
Mr. E. held that the President of the United States
had the perfect right to call out the military force of
the Union, to suppress and put down a revolution,
if in his judgment it was deemed necessary.
The morning hour here expired, and the subject
was laid over.
On motion, the SPEAKER laid before the Hbuse
the following-communications lying on the Speak-
I. A letter from the Secretary of War, trans-
mitting, in obedience to a resolution of the 26th inst.,
a report relative to the survey of the harbor of Du-
buque, in Iowa; and a report in relation to the con-
struction and improvement of certain roads in said
Territory of Iowa.
II. A letter from the Secretary of War, transmit-
ting, in answer to a resolution of the 26th ultimo, a
report in relation to a survey of a route from Green
Bay, in Wisconsin, to Copper harbor, in Michigan.
III. A letter from the Secretary of War, transmit-
ting;, in obedience to a resolution of the House of the
23d ult., a report in relation to the application of
James Green, for a pension as a midshipman in the
navy during the war of the revolution.
Iv. A report from the clerk of the House of Rep-
resentatives of the United States, in compliance with
provision of law, giviag the names of the cleiks and
other persons employed in his office.
V. A letter from the acting Secretary of the Na-
vy, in answer to a resolution of the flouse of the
23d ult., as to why a report of commissioners to
make experiments of inventions designed to prevent
the explosion of steam boilers has not been pub-
All which were laid on the table, and ordered to
VI. A letter from the Postmaster General, trans-
mitting, in obedience to requirement of the law of
July^, 1836, changing the organization of the Post
Office Department, the estimates for the mail ser-
vice for the fiscal year commencing July 1, 1845.
Whieh was referred to the Committee of Ways
and Means, and ordered to be printed.
The following bills and resolution from the Sen-
ate were taken up, twice read, and appropriately re-
An act for the relief of William Rich.
An act for the relief of William Russell and oth-
A resolution in favor of David Shaw and Solo-
mon T. Corser.
REDUCTION AND GRADUATION.
On motion of Mr. HOUSTON, the rules were
suspended, and the House resolved itself into Com-
mittee of the Whole on the state of the Union, (Mr.
Cave Johnson in the chair,) and resumed the con-
sideration of the bill to reduce and graduate the
prices of the public lands in favor of settlers and
Mr. THOS. SMITH was entitled to the floor.
My. HARDIN and Mr. SCHENCK made un-
successful appeals to Mr. Smitii to yield the floor,
to move the consideration, Mr. H. of the post-office
bill, and Mr. S. of the bill for the continuation of
the Cumberland road.
Mr. SMITH proceeded to address the committee.
He remarked that he had moved that the committee
rise, when this bill was last under consideration,
sot for the purpose of making a speech; nor did he
at present intend to detain the committee with any
Mr. S. referred to the provisions of this bill—to the
four degrees of graduation, running from $ 1 25 cents
down to 25 cents per'acre for actual settlers, after
the land has been in market twenty years, &c., and
said it appeared to him tbat the policy of graduating
the price of the public lands was reasonable and
right. He sustained the principle of the bill, al-
though it would produce a very considerable change
n the policy of the government with reference to
the disposition of the public lands.- He noticed the
proposition introduced by Mr. Thomas 3 on as a
substitute for the bill, which was to give to certain
individuals, to all persons, a certain quantity of
land. Mr. S. was in favor of this proposition.
Notwithstanding the gentleman was serious, as he
had no doubt, in his proposition, Mr. S. suspected
the quarter from whence it came. He suspected
that it was intended as an opposition proposition to
the bill before the House, and hence he was in hope
that it would not be introduced as a ryder, or as a
substitute for this bill; but he did desire to see
thepiinciple introduced by way of amendment to
the bill. However, it appeared to him that the
gentleman had not well considered the subject when
he proposed that every person who might be desti-
tute should take lands—a certain quantity. This
would include the black man; and he had. no idea
that the gentleman from Kentucky intended to make
provision for those who, in the southern States,
might see fit to let loose their slaves, that they
should be allowed to go on to our public lands and
take a certain quantity. However, to the principle
that the government should give to those destitute,
of the public lands, he had no objection whatever.
He believed that the public domain belonged to the
cultivator of the soil—to those who went forward
into the wilderness ajnd subdued and transformed
the wilderness into the fruitful field.
As he had but a few remarks to make on the sub-
ject, and did not desire to detain the committee long,
he would call their attention to the objections that
had been urged against this bill by those opposed to
it. It had been resisted on two grounds, which he
would now proceed briefly to notice. It had been
asserted, on the other side of the house, that the
adoption of this measure would have the tendency
to reduce the revenue derived from the sales of the
public lands, and that it would operate as a reduc-
tion of the price of all of the public lands. Now
he thought that these objections were wholly unten-
able. -If the people inclined to purchase public
lands for speculation, would stand off from the pur-
chase of the public lands until they should fall to
any of the reductions named in the bill, there might
be some force in the argument. But it was not so:
the history of the sales of the public lands showed
entirely a contrary result. Speculators were always
the first in the market, selecting and picking out the
good lands, and they were always the first to make
purchases. So far from the objection being a sound
one, he was satisfied that any reduction which Con-
gress could make by the provisions of this bill
would bring more lands into the market, and that,
under this system of graduation, lands would be
sold that cannot be sold at all under the present
system. This led him to spoak of his own district,
and the kind of lands there remaining unsold. He
resided in one of the oldest land districts in Indiana,
and there remained unsold in it half a million of
acres that have been m the market, some of them
twenty, and some of them thirty years. They
have been picked and repickcd, till what was left
was mere refuse land, which would never be pur-
chased, either by cultivators or speculators, at the
It would, indeed, be a bad speculation to purchase
such lands, for they could neither be sold at a profit,
nor reward with adequate returns the to 1 of the cul-
tivator; yet thete were many mdn iduals who would
gladly purchase them at a reduced price, for the
sake of adding to the fasnu they already possess.
If these lands wfire brought into mdiket at pri es
proportionate to their "value, they would bring
something into the public treasury; but, as it is,
they would not sell at all. The actual settlers and
cultivators of the West looked upon it as exceed-
ingly unjust that these lands should he held up by
the government at the same prices as lands of the
best quality. Such was the condition of the land
district in which he lived, and he apprehended that
the same state of things existed in other States.
He was satisfied, therefore, that the passage of the
bill would not have the tendency to reduce the rev-
enues derived from the sales of the public lands.
But the most plausible objection urged against the
bill was, that the reduction it proposed would favor
speculators, who would take advantage of such re-
duction, and appropriate the public lands to them-
selves. He totally misapprehended the character of
the speculators of this country, if they were willing
to take hold of the refuse lands in the new States
for the purposes of speculation. He took a specu-
lator to be a shrewd, keen, business man, with a
head, destitute of a heart—always ready to make a
bargain with a view to large and speedy profits.
Such men had money; and if they had not, they
knew where to get it; and their object was to
make their investments in such way as to -insure
them rich returns. The very idea of speculation
conveyed that of usury, though that was a term
too limited to describe their operations. With such
views, they would consequently select the best and
richest lands, and such as would sell the quickest,
and make the speediest return of profits. Did gen-
tlemen ever hear of their purchasing refuse lands?
How was it in the Southwest* There they sought out
the rich bottoms of alluvial soil—the best cotton and
sugar lands; while in the Wes t they looked out for
the advantages of rich lands, convenient location,
water power, facility of transportation, &c.; but
they never were known to take up lands that had
been a long time in market. 1*his subject of the
disposal of the public lands was a very old one, and
had been discussed a iong time. It was, moreover,
one of a party character, and as such, had been
viewed in different lights by the two great political
parties. Mr. Clay, in one of his late letters, re-
fers to this subject, and expresses the fear that, as
a consequence of the late presidential erection, the
public domain "will be wasted and taken away by
graduations and donations to actual settlers.
He therefore apprehended that very little favor
would be shown to this bill by the party of
which that gentleman is at the head. He hoped,
however, there would be enough in the House to
establish the principle for which the "West con-
tended—that refuse and inferior lands should not be
held up by the government at the same price as
those of the best quality In his opinion, it was
consistent with light and justice that they should
be put into the market at the price they will sell for,
and not held back from settlement and cultivation
because,they will not bring the government price.
There was one provision in the bill which he
would now notice, and wnicli he desired to see
amended. That provision was, that the lands
might be sold at the reduced price to those who own
adjacent tracts. No*', the amendment he wanted,
and which he intended to propose, was, that those
only who are settlers and cultivators sha 1 be per-
mitted to purchase, at the reduced price, the lands
adjacent to those settled 011 and cultivated by them.
This amendment would effectually prevent specula-
toris from availing themselves of the benefits of this
bill. Mr. S., after noticing an article copied into
the Intelligencer from the Louisville Journal, which
asserted that this bill was not wanted for the West,
and that it was not for the benefit of the poor man,
but of the rich speculator, went on to contend that
it was specially calculated to benefit the poor and
industrious cultivator, while speculators would in
no w ay be permitted to reap any advantages from it.
He also contended that, as the land laws now stood,
they were especially calculated for the benefit of
speculators who, if they had the making of the laws
themselves, could not better have legislated for their
own profit than Congress has done for them. This
cry of "speculators," in his opinion, came ftom the
speculators themselves, whose greatest interest it was
that the piesent system of opposing of liie public
lands should continue. lie looked upon the present
land laws as a guaranty to the speculator that the
govei nment would hold up its lands to enable themto
make their expected profits' on then- purchases.
There was one objection made to this bill, which he
haidlyknew whether thr.se who made it were seri-
ous in. There might be many who entertained this
objection; but he doubted whether they would go
bffore the country and urgeii. The objection was,
that its effects would be to draw off the population
from the old States to the new—that it would enable
the poor destitute and laboring men of the old States
to go so the new, and obtain comfortable homes.
He did not think that gentlemen would go before
the country and use such an argument. Nay, he
much doubted whether they would use such an ar-
gument in the country, where the lords of the loom
make their profits out of the necessities of a redun*
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United States. Congress. The Congressional Globe, Volume 14: Twenty-Eighth Congress, Second Session, legislative document, 1845; Washington D.C.. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth2366/m1/98/: accessed June 23, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.