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Condensed view of the Tonnage of the several districts of the U. 8., on
June 30, 1853 ......
and Territory of the U. S. during the year ending June 30, 1853. Number and class of vessels built, and the tonnage thereof in the several
States and Territories of the U. $. from 1815 to 1853 inclusive...
cleared from the U. S. for foreign countries during the year end-
depression. Prices of wheat, flour, corn, &c. High rents; vacant
houses in San Francisco .......... Shipments of gold during the first six months of 1853 and 1854........
JAPAN TREATY WITH THE U. S.........
JOURNAL OF PUBLIC IMPROVEMENT.
HELENA, ARK.: ITS RAILROADS AND COMMERCIAL PROS.
gress, length of line; length of straight line, grades, &c. .........
MINES AND MINING.
PRODUCE OF GOLD IN AUSTRALIA. .........
JOURNAL OF MANUFACTURES.
NEW STYLE OF BRICKS......................................
United States .........
The Public Lands:-Speech of Mr. Perkins of La.
The vices inherent in the policy pursued by the general government in respect to the public domain, have long been perceived and deprecated by sagacious and patriotic statesmen; and although the evils which flow from that policy multiply from year to year, yet its most vital errors are still permitted to exist without amend.. ment.
In relation to this subject, according to our view, the first step which has been taken in the right direction, was the passage of the law of the late session of Congress, graduating the price of the public land by a scale deduced from the time they have been in market. But while we admit that this law is calculated to ameliorate, in some degree, the evils of the old system, it bears the marks of a timed and temporising measure, proposed by individuals who feared to grapple with the fundamental vice from which the evils of the system flow. We mean no disparagement to the friends of the measure: they may have regarded a thorough reformation as being impracticable under the circumstances then existing, and deemed it the better policy to introduce a new system, by making partial inroads upon the old one.
We hold it to be totally inconsistent with the nature of our institutions that the General Government should own and exercise the right of disposing of large quantities of land within the limits of the States. This is the vital objection to the present system. We do not demand that the right should be relinquished unconditionally and without delay; but we do most emphatically protest against the proposition that the General Government shall take thirty years from the date of the first offering to traffic off its lands situated within the limits of the States. But the graduation law does not contemplate the relinquishment by the General Government of its claim to the unsold lands even at the end of thirty years; it allows that period to elapse before the price is reduced to its minimum, still leaving them under the control of the United States. We admit that the law will operate to reduce more speedily the extent and value of the public domain within the States; but, still, enough will be left to constitute a capital for demagogues and political aspirants to trade upon during the present generation. We trust the good sense of the American people will not permit them to rest satisfied until another step shall have been made which will fix a definite period, at the end of which all claim on the part of the General Government to exercise control over the public lands within the States shall cease.
We are the advocates of a law graduating the public lands by a scale that will reduce the price to twenty-five cents per acre at the end of ten years at most from the time they are offered for sale, and, when they shall have remained one year at this price and not sold, they shall become the property of the States in which they are situated. In the mean time we would transfer the management of the surveys and sales to the respective States upon such terms as would be just and reasonable between the parties.
Except as to the proposition to transfer the management and sale of the lands to the States, we have so often, and as we may be allowed to say, so fully discussed this subject in the preceeding volumes of the Western Journal, that we could adduce no argument here which has not been offered in other parts of our work. The proposition to transfer the management of the lands to the States is contained in a bill offered in Congress by Mr. Boyd, of Kentucky, and most ably advocated by Mr. Perkins, of Louisiana. The principle involved in the bill meets our cordial approbation; though we do not fully approve of the details. The details, however, are comparatively of but little importance when viewed in connection with the main objects of the bill.
We regard it as a favorable omen of success that this measure was brought forward by an influencial member of Congress from a State in which there are no public lands; and we are persuaded that if its friends will persevere in their efforts, they will entitle themselves to the gratitude of the nation by removing one of the most fruitful sources of political corruption.
The subject was so fully and ably discussed by Mr. Perkins in the House before the committee of the whole, that we propose to adopt his arguments, and regret that the arrangement of matter for the present number does not admít of the publication of his entire speech, which fills a pamphlet of about thirty pages. For, notwithstanding the great length of the speech, it is difficult to abridge it without detracting from the force of the argument, and doing injustice to the author.
Mr. PERKINS rose and said: Mr. CHAIRMAN: Of all the great questions that have been discussed within these walls, no one has so deeply affected the legis. lation of the country as that of the disposition of the public lands. Like agriculture in our material interests, it is at the bottom, and has affected every other interest. In addressing the House in explanation of the substitute I have offered, I should feel great diftidence if I proposed more than to recall the views of those who have already discussed the subject. Within the hour allowed me, I can only state principles and facts, and indicate without arguing their application.
Mr. Calhoun once remarked to Chief Justice Marshall, who frequently repeated it in illustration of the mental analysis of the great South Carolinian, that there were but two things to be considered in the formation of government-the organization and distribution of power. The force of this remark is especially felt in any attempt to discuss the policy or operation of our land system without first tracing it to its origin. From an insignificant agency under a clerkship of the Treasury Department, it has, with our increase of population and extension of territory, become a distinct branch of the government, extending in its various ramifications, into thirteen States of the Union, and exerting an influence that, looking to the delicacy and importance of the interests affected, and the nature of our institutions, can find no parallel, except in the India Board, governing from London the immense territories of England in the East.
It was looking at this great development in 1839, when we had only about three sevenths of our present territory, that Mr. Cal. houn said he was satisfied that the period had arrived when its entire revolution, as applicable to the States, was unavoidable. His words were : The States “have outgrown the system. Since its first adoption they have come into existence—have passed through a state of infancy-and are now arrived at manhood. The system which was wise and just at first, is neither wise nor just when applied to them in their changed condition."
Mr. CHAIRMAN, WHAT WAS ORIGINALLY THIS SYSTEM? WHAT ITS OPERATION ? IN WHAT IS IT DEFECTIVE? WHAT ARE THE REMEDIES PROPOSED? ARE THEY CONSTITUTIONAL AND EXPEDIENT ?
The bill wbich I offer is directed rather against a vice of organjzation than of principle. It was first proposed in a resolution introduced into the Senate of the United States, in 1826, by Mr. Tazewell, of Virginia; it was indicated in the message of General Jackson, in 1832, and brought to the notice of the Senate by Mr. Calhoun, in 1837, in a bill almost identical in terms with the present one.
In 1839, Mr. Calhoun advocated it in the Senate. In 1840, he secured a report in its favor from the Senate Committee on Public Lands, composed of Robert J. Walker, chairman; Fulton, cf Arkansas; Clay, of Alabama; Prentiss, of Vermont; and Norvell, of Michigan. In 1841, Judge Young, of Illinois, again introduced it into that body, where, after discussion, there were eighteen votes in its favor and twenty-two against it. Among those voting for it I find the names of Allen of Ohio, Anderson, Benton, Calhoun, Clay of Alabama, Fulton, King of Alabama, Linn, Lumpkin, Mouton, Nicholson, Norvell, Robinson, Sevier, Smith of Connecticut, Tappan, Walker of Mississippi, and Young of Illinois.
Before explaining its provisions, it will be necessary to state briefly the history of the acquisition of the public lands, and the policy which has controlled their disposition.
After the declaration of independence, and before the adoption of the articles of confederation, the disposition of the vacant lands in the West, claimed by the several colonies, became a subject of controversy. Maryland, and other of the smaller States, contended that this unsettled domain, if wrested by the common blood and treasure of tne thirteen colonies, should be “common property, parcelled out by Congress into free, convenient, and independ. ent governments, in such manner and at such times” as Congress should determine. Maryland refused to accede to the confederation, because this point was not yielded. The other States acceded, reserving their rights to these lands as common property.
In March, 1780, New York, to remove this dissatisfaction, tendered to the States her western lands; and in the same year, Congress passed a resolution “earnestly” recommending the other Štates having like possessions to do the same; declaring by resolve, on the 10th of October, “that the unappropriated lands” which should "be ceded or relinquished to the United States by any particular State,” should be “disposed of for the common benefit of the United States, and be settled and formed into distinct republican States ;" "which should become members of the federal Union, and have the same rights of sovereignty and freedom, and independence of the other States ;" the lands to be "granted or gettled at such times and under such regulations” as should afterwards be agreed upon by the United States in Congress assembled.
In March, 1781, the Maryland delegates signed the articles of