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STATE OF CALIFORNIA, イ
CONVENED AT THE CITY OF SACRAMENTO, SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 28, 1878.
could hold two hundred feet along the gulch. Then, when that was worked away these old forty-niners came along and said, you are gobbling up all the wealth of the country, and then they made a law that we could only hold one hundred feet. They wanted the thing divided up and cut down. There's where we learned the rule of division. There is where I got the spirit of dividing the land, and now we are going to apply it to these gentlemen who applied it to us. I don't ask to take a foot of land from Mr. Wilson, or anybody else. But when the gentleman from Alameda tells us there are yet forty million acres of land belonging to this State, we want to apply a limit to that to stop the land grabbers from gobbling it up. I don't blame my friend from Gilroy, Mr. Tully, for speaking in the interest of the land grabbers. I like to hear a man speak his sentiments fearlessly. I don't want to take anything from Lux & Miller, or from anybody else. But we want to fix some limit, so as to protect the remainder of the public domain from being stolen by the land grabbers. We want to fix some limit. It has been treated as a humbug. It has not been fairly considered by this Convention. We are not trying to take anything from any man who has come by it honestly. But we want to apply the limit to the lands which are still owned by the State, and prevent them from being gobbled up by the great corporations. I am here to go for what is right. I want to restrict corporations, and I will not here speak of the railroad company, but I will say that amidst all, the Central Pacific Railroad Company has done something for the country. They have opened up a market, they have helped to settle up the State. They have made it possible for the settler to get his grain to market. But I want some gentleman to tell me what in the name of the people of California any land grabber ever has done for the people. They are doing nothing. They are a fraud on the face of nature. If the railroad companies have taken our lands they have given us something in return, but the land grabber is a dead weight.
SPEECH OF MR. SMITH.
MR. SMITH, of Fourth District. Mr. Chairman: I would not detain the Convention if I had had a fair opportunity before to give my views on this question. I wish to speak on this amendment offered by Mr. McCallum, and I shall not detain you long. Now, if the gentlemen of this Convention knew the history I have gone through in my county for the last four years no such accession would be inade. I have fought this question before I ever heard of the Workingmen's party. I have not fought it because I have any prejudice against land holders; not because I was a Workingman, but because I was laboring for the best interests of the State. We don't want the public domain for sheep and cattle alone, owned by men who live in New York or Washington, leaving their Superintendents in charge. We want the country settled up by men with families, who will live on their possessions, become a part of our community, and have an interest in common with ours. Every impartial man knows that California is far behind other States in this respect. Now, I was told by a President of a railroad company-the largest railroad company in the United States--a man who has had experience in many other States, and ought to know whereof he speaks, and he told me that a great deal of injury had been done to the prosperity of the State in this way. That the policy was detrimental to the capitalists, as well as to poor men. The gentleman from Santa Clara, whom I admire very much, says it is nothing but humbug; and he goes to the extent of say ing that there is no such thing as land monopoly in this State. Is there no such thing as land monopoly in this State? Now, it seems to me, if we are sincere in this proposition, we cannot object to this amendment. It is the policy which has been pursued by this State heretofore. I have before me the law which limits the sale of school land to three hundred and twenty acres. It the law and the policy of the Government the United States to limit the amount of land which an individual may purchase. It is limited to actual settlers on the public domain. Why, you might as well say that a few men may own all the air, as to say that a few individuals can own all the soil upon which the people must rely for sustenance as much as they do on the air which they breathe. The large land holder can afford to make five per cent. on his money; whereas, if the land is divided up, it will yield twenty-four per cent. You might as well say that a man would have a right to enter and hold the Bay of San Francisco, where the commerce of the State is done; where the trade of the State centers. It has been argued here that a man has a right to buy all the stock there is on the market; and, to be consistent, he must be allowed to buy all the land he pleases. But there is a vast difference in the propositions. I do not advocate this in the interest of any party. I am not a candidate for office, else I would not stand here and advocate a proposition of this kind, for the capitalists and land holders control my county to a very great extent. They are a power in themselves. There is no man on this floor who has less desire for public notoriety than myself, if I do have to say it.
gration has been cut off from California, because it is almost an impossibility to get land. I don't know that I am prepared to support the whole of the proposition offered by the gentleman from San Francisco, Mr. O'Sullivan; in fact, I have never advocated that measure. My plan is not to wrest from you your lands already acquired, but to put a stop to this wholesale grabbing; stop this grabbing large tracts of land, holding it out of the market. Let these gentlemen who hold these large tracts of land cultivate them, and pay their fair share of taxation, and we will not complain. But when we hear of men like Lux & Miller, owning six or seven hundred thousand acres of land out of market— holding it entirely for grazing purposes-and when their representative is so anxious to protect their interests, and tells us there is no land monopoly in this State, then we must beg to differ. I shall propose an entirely different plan, and I shall offer an amendment, when the time comes, that the Legislature shall provide by law for the breaking up of large tracts of land, of uncultivated land, by a graduated system of taxation. I maintain that the only way to reach this evil is by taxation. We don't propose to take land from any man who has a title, unless it has been acquired by doubtful means. We don't propose to confiscate any of your lands, or rob you, but we propose that you shall pay taxes on it. Therefore, I propose if a man has one thousand acres, to tax him by one system; if he has two thousand acres, to tax him by another; and three thousand at a still higher rate, and so on, until it will become very convenient for him to sell. That will take the land and place it within the reach of poor people, just as it was when these gentlemen found it here in eighteen hundred and forty-nine. Other people, who have come since eighteen hundred and forty-nine, should have something. It is no reason, because they came in eighteen hundred and forty-nine, that they should have the whole country. Now, we don't propose to disturb your titles. The Workingmen's party do not desire to take a single acre of your land. The gentleman from Tulare, Mr. Brown, says that sheep tramp the ground in his county; and yet he is not willling that the land should be cultivated. I would like to offer an additional amendment, if it is in order.
THE CHAIRMAN. Not in order at present.
MR. WELLIN. When an opportunity offers I will try to present it.
is simply for a graduated system of taxation.
SPEECH OF MR. HAGER.
MR. HAGER. Mr. Chairman: I had not intended to speak upon this very important question. I have listened with a great deal of interest to the arguments here, and I am very glad to find out that there are so many of the Workingmen who are anxious to take up land. I am very Grangers who belong to this Convention. I presume in consequence of glad to know there is such affiliation between the Workingmen and the that close conversation they had during the session, they have imbibed this feeling. I do not happen to be one of those men who own large tracts of land, though there is another gentleman of my name who owns a large lot of land. I have heard it reported that I was that very man. I am not. willing to dispose of my land. Having none, of course I made no reply. I have had a great many letters inquiring whether I was I have a little swamp land down here on the bay. If anybody can take it and pay me what it cost me, I will be glad to dispose of it. I never could get to it for the water, not having a right of way. As far as the land question is concerned, to use a favorite expression, I am willing to pool our lands, and have an equal divide all round. My friend Wilson, from Tehama, and my friend from Los Angeles, General Howard, both large landholders; and my friend Biggs, from Butte, another one; my friend from Marin, Judge Shafter, and various others, to them I say, let us pool our lands and have an equal divide. I would be willing to do that.
SPEECH OF MR. WELLIN.
Now, sir, what is the fact? The public lands of the United States have been open to everybody. Anybody who saw fit could go and take them up. I have been asked time and again if I did not want to join parties and take up land in the San Joaquin and other valleys, and I declined to do it because I did not think it was profitable. I have no doubt there are many on this floor who didn't do it because they didn't think it would be profitable. It was a venture which they did not choose to make. I recollect the time when the Palo Alto Ranch, where Oakland now is, could have been bought for ten thousand dollars. Some gentlemen went to look at it, and came back and said they would not give ten thousand dollars for the whole country. They declined to take a ranch that is now worth millions. Who could foresee the future of California at that time? It is only when success becomes success that we slow-goers, who run behind the race, find out that we have lost the opportunity of making fortunes. That is the truth these people are now beginning to realize, because, as I said, these lands have been open to you all. The State lands and United States lands are open to you now. MR. WELLIN. Mr. Chairman: I have been listening to this dis- There is a large quantity of Government land accessible now to any one cussion for two days, and I am very sorry to see these large landed gen- who wants to take it up. When we came here this was a country sometlemen from the interior falling into such a state of error in regard to thing like that which prevailed in the days of Abraham, where the our position. They seem to think that the people of San Francisco are Mexicans had large tracts of land which had been given to them determined to steal their land, and at the same time they talk about because they had cattle. It was a grazing country. They had no marwhat good titles they have. We don't propose to take a single acre of ket except for cattle. They owned large ranches, and herds of cattle land from any man in the State, not even from the clients of the gentle- and horses. The Americans came among them, like the wolf on the man from Santa Clara, who have one million seven hundred thousand fold, and swept away their herds-took them without license and withacres of land in two of the largest counties of the State. We say, if they out consent. I know cases where they took possession of springs, and have got it, let them have it. But when gentlemen tell us there is no deprived them of the privilege of watering stock. They had large land monopoly in the State, that there is plenty of land to be had, they tracts of land simply for grazing purposes, and by these means they are mistaken. He is the only gentleman on this floor who asserts that were really divested of their lands. In that way they were deprived of there is no land monopoly in this State. I am very glad to find out their possessions. That is the way these large tracts of land came into from him that there is nothing to complain of. Now, the gentleman the possession of individuals, because it was necessary for their purposes; "Do you know of anybody who wants land?" I do. I know of because they had no use for it for anything else. And I cannot see, several people who want land. I know very well that the tide of immi- | after all I have heard, that anybody has been injured. Why, the largest
land holder in this State is as much a workingman as any one in this Convention. He commenced as a hardworking laboring man. Lux & Miller commenced as humble butchers, working at their trade. I know another who commenced as a clerk, on a salary of one hundred dollars a month. These are the men you are hurling your anathemas against. Go and do as they have done. They built their fortunes by perseverance and industry. There are many who might be better off if they had saved their money instead of wasting it. Do as they have done. Be industrious and saving, and you will acquire a competence for yourselves and for your children, and then you will have less, perhaps, to complain of. Many of these rich men were in the same position you MR. SMITH, of Fourth District. There is no proposition here to take a dollar away from these men.
MR. HAGER. No, sir; but you say these men have got too much. That is the complaint here. It is the people of the country who have made the laws, who administer the laws, and if there is any fault to-day it is because these lands have been acquired too easily from the Government. Now, if a man buys three hundred and twenty acres, can't he sell it to the man who wants to accumulate land? The same process of accumulation would still go on.
MR. TULLY. I want to ask a question. What right has a man to the exercise of superior sagacity in this country?
MR. HAGER. Do you mean political sagacity? I think this is owing to the Republican party. Under the old Democratic party we didn't have this monopoly. It was the py of the Republican party which gave to these men the opportunity to gobble up lands.
SPEECH OF MR. LARKIN.
MR. LARKIN. Mr. Chairman: I don't intend to detain the committee but a few moments. I desire as far as possible to regulate this question of land monopoly, and to correct these abuses. I have supported propositions declaring that no corporation in this State shall hold land exceeding five years, except such as is absolutely necessary for their purpose. That is one of the greatest and most important measures passed in correcting the abuses of land monopoly. If the provision prevails (and I believe the Supreme Court will sustain it) it will do away with grants covering nearly one third of the State, and throw it open to the people, which it ought to do. I believe it is practical, I believe it is correct. But whether it is sustained or not, we have provided, in this Constitution, which I am satisfied a majority of this Convention will determine on, that no corporation shall hold land exceeding five years. That regulates the matter. That regulates it in the proper manner. Another proposition we have made, is to compel the assessment of land by sections and fractions of sections. That will do more to regulate this land question than any of the propositions offered, though they are offered in good faith. I am aware he is in earnest in this matter. But this proposition will not accomplish as much as requiring the lands of this State to be assessed by sections. You have done that. You will stand by it when the final vote, when the ayes and noes come, and you will correct land monopoly, because each section will be assessed the same as cultivated land adjoining. When you come to assess these large tracts of lands at what they are really worth, then they will divide them up into small farms, and that will correct these abuses. We have provided still further, that this land shall be assessed, cultivated and uncultivated, alike. Now, in order that the abuses which have grown up in the assessment of land in this State shall not continue, that even the Assessor of each county may be under the control of the land owners no longer, we have provided a State Board that will place the land upon its cash value. That limits large tracts of land, because they could not make it profitable. In addition to the roposition offered by the author of the resolution, we have prohibited persons not citizens from owning land. That proposition I believe to be wrong. This Convention should determine that a person ineligible to become a citizen shall not have a right to own land. It will go into the Constitution that a man ineligible | shall not own any land. We have invited men from Europe to come into our mines and settle, and help develop them; and to say to them, you shall not own any land, is wrong. We will take your land from you. That policy will never do, because they have an immense amount of money invested in the mines of this State, helping to develop these mines; encouraging immigration; encouraging capital to help develop the resources of the country. Accept this proposition to prohibit corporations from owning land over five years, this proposition to assess land according to its agricultural capacity, with the proposition that land shall be equalized by the State Board of Equalization, and the prohibition against persons incapable of becoming citizens of the United States from owning or renting lands, and you have done all that is in your power. You will have accomplished a revolution when the Constitution goes into effect, a greater revolution than ever was made in correcting abuses. We have accomplished all that the most sanguine men in this State could expect. I say, we have done all we should do in this matter. The proposition pending, of Mr. McCallum's, is not as complete as the present law. It is not from the law, it is from the mismanagement of it. The Surveyor-General's office of this State has been conniving at the sale of land contrary to law. With the exception of the present incumbent, there has not been one that has been sustained by law. The present law is correct; but the present proposition is this, to limit to three hundred and twenty acres of cultivated land in this State. It does not affect the amount of land a man may own to keep sheep on.
last addressed us, and to many other gentlemen, that it is no answer to the argument against land monopoly, that the time once was when the land could have been had for the taking. The facts are that it has been taken in large quantities, and held for speculation, and not for use. These are the facts, and are overwhelming reasons against the arguments advanced here on the other side. I want to call attention to some figures that were cited here this morning by the gentleman from Los Angeles. As they were read they convey a deceptive impression. The figures show the number and size of farms in California in eighteen hundred and sixty and eighteen hundred and seventy respectively: Three acres and under ten
Ten acres and under twenty.
Twenty acres and under fifty.
SPEECH OF MR. REYNOLDS.
MR. REYNOLDS. Mr. Chairman: It is not because I have any ill will towards this committee that I desire to occupy a moment or two of your time, but because I am profoundly impressed with the importance of this question. It is but a few words I can say within the limited time. But allow me to say to the gentleman from San Francisco who
Fifty acres and under one hundred.
829 1,102 2,344
1870 2,187 1,086
Now, in criticising these figures, we find, that of the farms of fifty acres and over, and less than one hundred and sixty acres, the number has has scarcely increased; that of farms of twenty acres and under fifty, the number was scarcely increased at all; and the number of small holdingsten acres to twenty-was scarcely increased at all. The number of farms of three acres up to ten, was about doubled, while the number of one thousand acres and over, was more than trebled: hence it will appear, according to this table, that during these ten years, the number of large holdings were increased manifold more than the small farms. But the enlargement of the evil lies not in large arms, but in the ownership of large tracts of land which are not farms. Not in the putting of the land to use, but in holding these immense tracts of land for purposes of speculation, and putting the land to no use at all; there is where the evil lies. The land monopolists have made the assertion that a man has the right to buy all the land he can pay for. Let us see where that leads to. The logical result is, that a man, if he has the money, may buy the whole State of California, and give the nine hundred thousand people notice to quit, and declare that they must go, that they are trespassers. Is that public policy? What advocate of land monopoly will answer, aye? I pause to hear. That is the logical result, and there is no getting away from it. Has the State a right to prevent this? I answer, that it has just as much right as it has to guard against infected ships, or to impose taxes, or to do any other act of sovereignty. The State has a perfect right, and now the question is: Shall the State exercise this right? I wish I had time to rehearse a few facts in answer to some of the arguments here. Land monopoly is a question, the importance of which was early seen and recognized in this country. The question of a limited ownership of land is rapidly becoming one of national importance. When the public mind became once agitated on the subject of slavery, it culminated in civil war, and the conflict against land monopoly was, for the time, forgotten. The result of it was the amazing and almost incredible fact that, from eighteen hundred and sixty-two to eighteen hundred and seventy-two, Congress gave away to railroads, over one hundred and nineteen millions of acres of land. The Central Pacific, or rather, seven of the Directors, were endowed with one twelfth of this land. Add to this, that in eighteen hundred and seventy, nearly ten years ago, over seven hundred holdings in this State exceeding one thousand acres each, and see where you are[At this point the gavel fell.]
MR. STEDMAN. Mr. Chairman: This discussion has only led us to believe what was already believed before, that vast concentrations of land under one ownership are great evils; and we have also been led to believe what we believed before, that if these monopolists are not stopped they will seize upon every river and creek in the country. Now, sir, I believe we are all agreed upon this subject. I believe the discussion can do no more good, and I now move the previous question. Seconded by Messrs. Biggs, Evey, McConnell, and Ayers. THE CHAIRMAN. The question is: Shall the main question be now put?
THE CHAIRMAN. The question is upon the amendment of the gentleman from San Francisco, Mr. Dowling.
THE CHAIRMAN. The question is upon the amendment offered by the gentleman from Alameda, Mr. McCallum.
Division being called for, the amendment was adopted, by a vote of 71 ayes to 26 noes.
MR. BEERSTECHER. Mr. Chairman: I wish to offer an additional section.
THE SECRETARY read: "Perpetuities and monopolies are contrary to the genius of a free government, and shall never be allowed; nor shall the law of primogeniture or entailments ever be in force in this State.”
Mr. BEERSTECHER. Mr. Chairman: I do not desire to speak upon the curse of land monopoly. It has been canvassed by others. But I call attention to section sixteen of the old Constitution, which provides that no perpetuity shall be allowed except for eleemosynary purposes. This is substantially the same thing. It prevents land being vested in a member of the family, or in a corporation for ever.
MR. MCCALLUM. That belongs under the head of Miscellaneous Subjects. It is already in that report.
MR. BEERSTECHER. I don't know anything about that report. It is better to put it here. It also guards against primogeniture. If this amendment is worth adopting, there is no better time and place than the present, under the head of land and homestead exemption. This provision is found in almost every Constitution in the United States.
MR. JONES. I apprehend, from the importance manifested, that it is the intention of the Convention to vote down the amendment.
THE CHAIRMAN. The question is on the substitute of the gentleman from San Bernardino, Mr. Rolfe.
Division being called, the substitute was adopted by a vote of 73 ayes
"The Legislature shall have power, and it is hereby made its duty to pass laws to prohibit and prevent the monopoly of land, by regulating the representation, use, and occupation thereof, by restricting the posseзsion and tenure thereof, and to pass all necessary laws, not in conflict with the Constitution and laws of the United States, to prevent the accumulation of large landed estates in single hands."
Seconded by Messrs. Beerstecher, White, Howard, of Los Angeles, and Lindow.
THE CHAIRMAN. The question is: Shall the main question be now put? Carried.
THE CHAIRMAN. The question is on the substitute offered by the gentleman from San Francisco, Mr. Barbour.
Division was called, and the substitute was lost, by a vote of 49 ayes to 53 noes.
THE CHAIRMAN. The question is on the amendment of the gentleman from San Francisco, Mr. Wellin.
to 35 noes.
THE PRESIDENT. Gentlemen: I am instructed by the Committee of the Whole to report that they have had under consideration the report of the Committee on Land and Homestead Exemption, have
MR. WELLIN. Mr. Chairman: I offer an additional section.
"The Legislature shall provide by law for the breaking up of large adopted certain amendments thereto, and recommend the adoption of
THE PREVIOUS QUESTION.
MR. FARRELL. Mr. Chairman: I move the previous question.
MR. MCCALLUM. Mr. Chairman: I move that the committee rise and recommend that the amendments adopted by the Committee of the Whole be adopted by the Convention.
Division being called for, the motion prevailed, by a vote of 63 ayes to 45 noes.
MR. CAPLES. I move we take a recess until seven o'clock.
And at five o'clock P. M., the Convention stood adjourned until tomorrow morning, at nine o'clock and thirty minutes.
SPEECH OF MR. BARBOUR.
MR. BARBOUR. Mr. Chairman: I offer this, sir, because it seems to ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTIETH DAY. me from the discussion here, that it ought to be free from objection, except the objections of those who are contending upon the floor of this Convention that there is no such thing as land monopoly in this State. To those nothing is acceptable. There is another class who believe that the thing is self-regulating. If they are satisfied that there is no such thing as land monopoly, they really ought not to object to a proposition of this kind. Now, sir, the assertion has been made upon this floor, that there is no such thing as land monopoly. Those of the Democratic party on this floor, who seem to take that view, I refer to the very last State platform of their party, and ask them what they meant when they came before the people of this State saying, that land monopoly is a curse, and ought to be abated? There must have been some reason for that platform. And the Republicans of this Convention stood upon about the same platform before the people of this State; and now gentlemen of this particular faith come upon this floor and tell us that it is all a myth. No sir, they say, there is no such thing as land monopoly in this State. Is it, sir, merely to play with the people that these platforms are made? Are they simply taffy to catch flies? I want to tell the Democratic members upon this floor, whose grand old party was organized in the United States on the principle of opposition to monopolies, that they will not be able to explain to the people how it was, after they have been talking so glibly about the reserved power of the State, the sovereign power of the State, that they can find no way to do anything about land monopoly. They can find law to regulate the Chinese; they can find power to put them in ships and send them away from this coast; they can curb corporations; but they cannot curb this great evil of land monopoly. Sir, it will never do. If there is one subject matter over which this State has complete control it is over this very matter. It is by the very power and protection of the State that these men own and hold their property. If a man has a cattle range extending over a thousand hills, how long would he be able to maintain possession of it against the tide of settlement, should the protection of the State be withdrawn? What mean the laws with respect to the subjects of ejectment, partition, adverse possession, and the whole list of laws regarding the acquisition, transfer, recording, and conveyance of land. It is the power of the State, sir, over the subject matter. Now, sir, my time is too short to discuss this whole question as I would like to do. I would like to reply to these gentlemen who have been for two days misrepresenting the position of my colleagues upon this subject. They have been for two days declaring that we were in favor of dividing up the property of this State. There never was a more infamous misrepresentation of our position. We do not want one foot, or one inch of it, and gentlemen know it. But we do want to have this matter under State control, so that this may be the land of the people, and not the land of the monopolist. We only want to harmonize the policy of the State with the policy of the United States. We only want to do what the government has done, make the people owners of the soil rather than tenants of great landlords. [Applause.]
MR. TULLY. I move that the committee now rise, and report that the report of the Committee on Land and Homestead Exemption be indefinitely postponed.
MR. SMITH, of Fourth District. I move an amendment, that the committee rise and ask leave to sit again.
MR. REYNOLDS. Is it competent for the committee to rise while an amendment is pending?
THE CHAIRMAN. The committee can rise at any time. The ques
tion is on the motion to rise.
SACRAMENTO, Saturday, January 25th, 1879. The Convention met in regular session at ten o'clock A. M., President pro tem. Belcher in the chair.
The roll was called, and members found in attendance as follows:
Howard,of Los Angeles, Rhodes,
Howard, of Mariposa,
Martin, of Santa Cruz, Tully,
Dudley, of San Joaquin, McComas,
Smith, of Santa Clara,
Smith, of 4th District,
Smith, of San Francisco,
Walker, of Tuolumne,
Wilson, of Tehama,
Wilson, of 1st District,