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roads receive encouragement; and in no event will the general gov. ernment sacrifice a dollar. * * *
THIS SUBSTITUTE IS VALUABLE FOR OTHER REASONS OF MUCH IMPORTANCE, AND TO WHICH I ASK THE PARTICULAR ATTENTION OF THE House. IT WILL TRANSFER TO THE STATES THE SETTLEMENT OF THAT LARGE CLASS OF CONTESTED LAND CASES WHICH NOW COME BEFORE THE LAND COMMISSIONER IN THIS CITY FOR DECISION. IT WILL REFER TO THE STATE LEGISLATURE THOSE NUMEROUS APPLICATIONS FOR SPECIAL LEGISLATION REGARDING LAND TITLES WHICH NOW EMBARRASS THIS HOUSE, AND TO THE STATE COURTS THAT IMMENSE AMOUNT OF LITIGATION WHICH HAS BEEN EXPENSIVELY PROSECUTED IN THE UNITED STATES COURTS.
Here Mr. Perkins proceeded to give an interesting account of the difficulties, delays and cost incident to the prosecution and adjustment of private land claims, especially to the citizens of Louisiana. In connection with this subject he says, he is informed by the Commissioner of the land office that "it would have been economy in the first settlers of Louisiana to have purchased anew their lands from the government, rather than to have incurred the expense of their confirmation.”
Having stated the arguments in favor of the measure, Mr. Perkins anticipates and answers the objections which are supposed to exist against it in the Atlantic States, and shows conclusively, we think, that the prosperity of the old States is dependent in a great measure upon the growth of the new, and that any act of legislation which benefits the latter, must promote the prosperity of the former.
Mr. Perkins then proceeds to show that the allowance of 25 per cent. to the States for the sale and management of the public lands will enable the General Government to realize more money from that source than it does or can under the present system. The following are his views and estimates upon this branch of the subject :
BUT, SIR, I MUST HASTEN ON. Is TIIE PER-CENTAGE TO BE PAID BY THE LAND STATES UPON THE SALE OF LANDS WITHIN THEIR LIMITS ADJUSTED IN THE BILL SO AS TO RECONCILE CONSTITUTIONAL OBJECTIONS, AND WITHOUT BEING A GIFT OR A SALE OF THE LANDS TO RELIEVE THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT FROM EXPENSE IN THEIR ADMINISTRATION, $EGURE INDIVIDUAL INTEREST, AND AT THE SAME TIME IMPOSE NO ONERUS CONTRACT UPON THE STATES ?
In the bill similar to this, introduced into the Senate in 1837, it was proposed that the States should pay over only 33} p. cent. By the bill of Judge Young, of Illinois, introduced in 1847, it was proposed they should pay over 65 per cent. of the gross amount.
In fixing the amount at 75 per cent. in the present bill, the calculation has been made upon a basis intended to be strictly just towards the general government, the States, and to individuals.
The per-centage to be paid by the States is placed higher than in former bills, because
1. There are now fewer lands unsurveyed in the States, and therefore the expense of their administration will be less. - 2. In nearly all the land States there are now State land offices or agencies created for the sale of lands donated to the States by the general government, and the additional expense of adminis. tering the remaining lands within their limits will be slight.
3. I desire that the bill should meet the constitutional views of gentlemen on both sides of the House, and operate simply as a transfer of the administration of the lands to the States in which they lie, and not as a donation or sale.
The elements of the calculation upon which the per-centage is fixed at 75 per cent., I will state in a few words : The average cost of the public lands, according to
the calculation of Commissioner Wilson [Report of the General Land Office for 1853, page 47] is, per acre.........
14.41 cents. Cost of surveying.........
2.07 66 Cost of selling and managing....................
Equal to, per acre........
Calculating it at 22 cents per acre, if the lands
sell for $1,35 per acre, which is the average price the public lands brought into the United States treasury up to June 1, 1819, [Commismissioner Young's Report for 1818, appendix, page 555,] the per-centage to reimburse the
general government would be...................... 164 per cent. If sold for $1,25 p. acre, the per-cent. would be. 17 6-10 " If sold for $1 p. acre, the per-centage would be.. 22 If sold for 75 cents p. a., the per-cent. would be 30 If sold for 50 cents p. a., the per-cent. would be. 44 If sold for 25 cents p. a., the per-cent. would be. 88 Applying this to the actual position and amount
of the public domain, the total area of public Acres.
land States [exclusive of Calfornia] is.......... 381,115,470 The total number of acres remaining unsold in the
land States, [exclusive of California,] on the 30th June, 1853, is.....
The average length of time the land States (ex
cluding California) have been in the Union, is within a fraction of thirty years; and within that period there has been sold 103,197,356 35-100 acres, and disposed of for schools, internal improvements, individuals and companies, seats of government, military services, salines, Indians, &c., &c., 104,194,722 89-100 acres,
making a total of........ .................. 207,392,079 Or sixty per cent. of the whole.
Thirty years being the average time that the lands within the States have been offered for sale at $1,25 per acre, if we estimate that the States, under the operation of the graduation prices of the bill, which is a very fair calculation, will dispose of an equal proportion of the public lands within the next thirty years, and that being the period at the expiration of which the lands remaining undisposed of are to be relinquished to the States, there will have been parted with in that time 100,970,290 acres. Under the graduating process, these 100,907,290 acres are to be sold at prices ranging from $1,25 to 25 cents per acre, (the average rate of the bill,) and will bring $75,680,468. It is proposed that the land States pay to the general
government 75 per cent. of the gross proceeds of
the sales of those lands, which will amount to......$56,760,351 Deduct the cost of the lands to the United States
say 168,178,818 acres, at 163* cents per acre.... 27,749,505
Leaving a profit over and above cost to the U. S. of 29,010,846 The share of the States in the gross amount sold, be
ing 25 per cent. of $75,680,468, is.................. $18,920,117 Deduct for selling, managing, and surveying 100,
907,290 acres, at seven centst per acre ............ 7,063,510
Leaving a profit over and above cost to the land
• This 164 cent is made up of-Cost...................... 14.41 per acre.
Survey ................... 2.07"
16.48 66 which the government has expended, and would be entitled to be repaid, if it had surveyed all the lands ceded.
+ The federal government has not surveyed all the lands ceded; therefore this seven cents is made up of--Survey............................ 2.07 cents. Sale and management. ...............5.32
7.39 66 that the calculation may be perfectly fair, both to the States and the general gov. vernment.
The number of acres remaining unsold at the end of thirty years, relinquished to the States in which they lie, will be 67,371,528 acres.
From these calculations it appears--on the basis of the graduation price in this bill, the same as that in the bill recently passed, and the estimate of the Land Office of 22 cents per acre for cost of survey, sale, management, &c., of the public lands—that when lands are sold at
$1,25 p. acre, the po-cent. of exp. is 18 p. C.--net yield 82 When at 1,00 "
78 75 66 "
29 " 16 71 50 16
06 , 66 44 66 66 56 25 06
« 16. 88 " 6 12
per en times the sides getting public )
· The expense averaging about 40 per cent., and the net yield 60 per cent.
In fixing, therefore, the per-centage at 75 per cent., the federal government, besides getting rid of the vexatious questions attending the administration of the public lauds, will receive in cash into the treasury 15 per cent. more from their sale, under the provi. gions of this bill, than under the present syster.
SO MUCH FOR THE GENERAL GOVERNMENT. HOW WILL IT AFFECT THE STATES?
1st. The States will gain $11,856,607 above their expense in administration of the lands within their limits.
2d. The transfer, at the end of thirty years, of the lands remaining unsold, estimated at 67,271,528 acres.
3d. The right to tax land as soon as sold, in getting rid of the exemption from taxation of government lands for five years after sale.
4th. They will secure all the aid in the construction of railroads within their limits which is now vainly sought for from Congress.
5th. The rapid sale and settlement of the lands within their limits, and the adjudication of all contested entries and disputed land titles, by their own legislatures and before their State courts.
6th. They will be freed from that species of vassalage arising from a large portion of their territory being held by the general government, and the subject of Executive influence and patronage, within their limits.
But, sir, it must be remembered, that while this bill tenders these advantages to the States, its passage by this House does not imrose upon them thrir acceptance. By its terms, it offers merely their acceptarce; giving a year wiihin which the States may accept or not the administration of their lands. Is there a representative on this floor who will take upon himself the responsibil ity of denying to his State legislature the right of deciding this questions? If some States accept, and others do not, to that exten the advantages we have described will result, and the present system will continue to operate exclusive of them, as it now operates exclusive of Texas, which in coming into the Union reserved the control of its own lands.
In connection with the foregoing subject, we publish the following act of Congress graduating the price of the public lands in the States. AN ACT to graduate and reduce the price of the public lands
to actual settlers and cultivators.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That all of the public lands of the United States which shall have been in market for ten years or upwards, prior to the time of application to enter the same under the provisions of this act, and still remaining unsold, shall be subject to sale at the price of one dollar per acre; and all of the lands of the United States that shall have been in market for fifteen years or upwards, as aforesaid, and still remaining unsold, shall be subject to sale at severty-five cents per acre; and all of the lands of the United States that shall have been in market for twenty years or upwards, as aforesaid, and still remaining unsold, shall be subject to sale at fifty cents per acre; and all of the lands of the United States that shall have been in market for twenty-five years and upwards, as aforesaid, and still remaining unsold, shall be subject to sale at twenty-five cents per acre; and all lands of the United States that shall have been in market for thirty years or more, shall be subject to sale at twelveand-a-half cents per acre : Provided, This section shall not be so construed as to extend to lands reserved to the United States, in acts granting land to States for railroad or other internal improvements, or to mineral lands held at over one doilar and twenty-five cents per acre.
SEJ. 2. And be it further enacted, That upon every reduction in price under the provisions of this act, the occupant and settler upon the lands shall have the right of pre-emption at such graduated price, upon the same terms, conditions, restrictions and limitations, upon which the public lands of the United States are now subject to the right of pre-emption, until within thirty days preceding the next graduation or reduction that shall take place; and if not so purchased, shall again be subject to right of pre-emption for eleven months as before, and so on, from time to time, as reductions take place: Provide'l, that nothing in this act shall be so construed as to interfere with any right which has or may accrue by virtue of any act granting pre-emption to actual settlers upon public lands.