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the territory within the limits of her charter lying to the northwest of the Ohio River. It may not be ill-timed to recur to the causes and occasions of this and the other similar grants.

When the war of the Revolution broke out, a great difference existed in different States in the proportion between people and territory. The Northern and Eastern States, with very small surfaces, contained comparatively a thick population, and there was generally witħin their limits no great quantity of waste lands belonging to the government, or the crown of England. On the contrary, there were in the Southern States, in Virginia and in Georgia, for example, extensive public domains, wholly unsettled, and belonging to the crown. As these possessions would necessarily fall from the crown in the event of a prosperous issue of the war, it was insisted that they ought to devolve on the United States, for the good of the whole. The war, it was argued, was undertaken and carried on at the common expense of all the colonies; its benefits, if successful, ought also to be common; and the property of the common enemy, when vanquished, ought to be regarded as the general acquisition of all. While yet the war was raging, it was contended that Congress ought to have the power to dispose of vacant and unpatented lands, commonly called crown lands, for defraying the expenses of the war, and for other public and general purposes. “ Reason and justice," said the Assembly of New Jersey, in 1778, “must decide that the property which existed in the crown of Great Britain previous to the present Revolution ought now to belong to the Congress, in trust for the use and benefit of the United States. They have fought and bled for it, in proportion to their respective abilities, and therefore the reward ought not to be predilectionally distributed. Shall such States as are shut out by situation from availing themselves of the least advantage from this quarter be left to sink under an enormous debt, whilst others are enabled in a short period to replace all their expenditures from the hard earnings of the whole confederacy?"

Moved by considerations and appeals of this kind, Congress took up the subject, and in September, 1780, recommended to the several States in the Union having claims to Western territory, to make liberal cessions of a portion thereof to the United States; and on the 10th of October, 1780, Congress resolved,

that any lands so ceded, in pursuance of their preceding recommendation, should be disposed of for the common benefit of the United States; should be settled and formed into distinct republican States, to become members of the Federal Union, with the same rights of sovereignty, freedom, and independence as the other States; and that the lands should be granted, or settled, at such times, and under such regulations, as should be agreed on by Congress. Again, in September, 1783, Congress passed another resolution, setting forth the conditions on which cessions from States should be received; and in October following, Virginia made her cession, reciting the resolution, or act, of September preceding, and then transferring to the United States her title to her Northwestern territory, upon the express condition that the lands so ceded should be considered as a common fund for the use and benefit of such of the United States as had become or should become members of the confederation, Virginia inclusive, and should be faithfully and bona fide disposed of for that purpose, and for no other use or purpose whatever. The grants from other States were on similar conditions. Massachusetts and Connecticut both had claims to Western lands, and both relinquished them to the United States in the same

These grants were all made on three substantial conditions or trusts. First, that the ceded territories should be

. formed into States, and admitted in due time into the Union, with all the rights belonging to other States; secondly, that the lands should form a common fund, to be disposed of for the general benefit of all the States; and thirdly, that they should be sold and settled, at such time and in such manner as Congress should direct.

Now, Sir, it is plain that Congress never has been, and is not now, at liberty to disregard these solemn conditions. For the fulfilment of all these trusts, the public faith was, and is, fully pledged. How, then, would it have been possible for Congress, if it had been so disposed, to give away these public lands? How could it have followed the example of other governments, if there had been such, and considered the conquest of the wilderness an equivalent compensation for the soil? The States had looked to this territory, perhaps too sanguinely, as a fund out of which means were to come to defray the expenses of the war.

It had been received as a fund, as a fund Congress


had bound itself to apply it. To have given it away, would have defeated all the objects which Congress and particular States had had in view in asking and obtaining the cession, and would have plainly violated the conditions which the ceding States attached to their own grants.

The gentleman admits, that the lands cannot be given away until the national debt is paid; because to a part of that debt they stand pledged. But this is not the original pledge. There is, so to speak, an earlier mortgage. Before the debt was funded, at the moment of the cession of the lands, and by the very terms of that cession, every State in the Union obtained an interest in them, as in a common fund. Congress has uniformly adhered to this condition. It has proceeded to sell the lands, and to realize as much from them as was compatible with the other trusts created by the same deeds of cession. One of these deeds of trust, as I have already said, was, that the lands should be sold and settled, at such time and in such manner as Congress shall direct. The government has always felt itself bound, in this respect, to exercise its own best judgment, and not to transfer the discretion to others. It has not felt itself at liberty to dispose of the soil, therefore, in large masses to individuals, thus leaving to them the time and manner of settlement. It had stipulated to use its own judgment. If, for instance, in order to rid itself of the trouble of forming a system for the sale of those lands, and going into detail, it had sold the whole of what is now Ohio, in one mass, to individuals or companies, it would clearly have departed from its just obligations. And who can now tell, or conjecture, how great would have been the evil of such a course ? Who can say what mischiefs would have ensued, if Congress had thrown these territories into the hands of private speculation? Or who, on the other hand, can now foresee what the event would be, should the government depart from the same wise course hereafter, and, not content with such gradual absorption of the public lands as the natural growth of our population may accomplish, should force great portions of them, at nominal or very low prices, into private hands, to be sold and settled as and when such holders might think would be most for their own interests ?

Hitherto, Sir, I maintain, Congress has acted wisely, and done its duty on this subject. I hope it will continue to do it. De

parting from the original idea, so soon as it was found practicable and convenient, of selling by townships, Congress has disposed of the soil in smaller and still smaller portions, till at length it sells in parcels of no more than eighty acres; thus putting it into the power of every man in the country, however poor, but who has health and strength, to become a freeholder if he desires, not of barren acres, but of rich and fertile soil. The government has performed all the conditions of the grant. While it has regarded the public lands as a common fund, and has sought to make what reasonably could be made of them, as a source of revenue, it has also applied its best wisdom to sell and settle them, as fast and as happily as possible; and whensoever numbers would warrant it, each territory has been successively admitted into the Union, with all the rights of an independent State.

Is there then, Sir, I ask, any ground for a well-founded charge of hard dealing? for any just accusation of negligence, indifference, or parsimony, which is capable of being sustained against the government of the country in its conduct towards the new States? I think there is not.

But there was another observation of the honorable member, which, I confess, did not a little surprise me. As a reason for wishing to get rid of the public lands as soon as we could, and as we might, the honorable gentleman said he wanted no permanent sources of income. He wished to see the time when the government should not possess a shilling of permanent revenue. If he could speak a magical word, and by that word convert the whole Capitol into gold, the word should not be spoken. The administration of a fixed revenue, he said, only consolidates the government and corrupts the people! Sir, I confess I heard these sentiments uttered on this floor not without deep regret


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I am aware that these and similar opinions are espoused by certain persons out of the Capitol and out of this government; but I did not expect so soon to find them here. Consolidation! - that perpetual cry both of terror and delusion, - Consolidation! Sir, when gentlemen speak of the effects of a common fund, belonging to all the States, as having a tendency to consolidation, what do they mean? Do they mean, or can they mean, any thing more than that the union of the States will be

strengthened by whatever continues or furnishes inducements to the people of the States to hold together? If they mean merely this, then, no doubt, the public lands, as well as every thing else in which we have a common interest, tend to consolidation; and to this species of consolidation every true American ought to be attached; it is neither more nor less than strengthening the Union itself. This is the sense in which the framers of the Constitution use the word consolidation, and in this sense I adopt and cherish it. They tell us, in the letter submitting the Constitution to the consideration of the country, that, “ In all our deliberations on this subject, we kept steadily in our view that which appears to us the greatest interest of every true American, the consolidation of our Union, in which is involved our prosperity, felicity, safety, perhaps our national existence. This important consideration, seriously and deeply impressed on our minds, led each State in the Convention to be less rigid on points of inferior magnitude than might have been otherwise expected."

This, Sir, is General Washington's consolidation. This is the true, constitutional consolidation. I wish to see no new powers drawn to the general government; but I confess I rejoice in whatever tends to strengthen the bond that unites us, and encourages the hope that our Union may be perpetual. And therefore I cannot but feel regret at the expression of such opinions as the gentleman has avowed, because I think their obvious tendency is to weaken the bond of our connection. I

I know that there are some persons in the part of the country from which the honorable member comes, who habitually speak of the Union in terms of indifference, or even of disparagement. The honorable member himself is not, I trust, and can never be, one of these. They significantly declare, that it is time to calculate the value of the Union; and their aim seems to be to enumerate, and to magnify, all the evils, real and imagi. nary, which the government under the Union produces.

The tendency of all these ideas and sentiments is obviously to bring the Union into discussion, as a mere question of present and temporary expediency; nothing more than a mere matter of profit and loss. The Union is to be preserved, while it suits local and temporary purposes to preserve it; and to be sundered whenever it shall be found to thwart such purposes.

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