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Dane, then and now a citizen of Massachusetts. It was adopted, as I think I have understood, without the slightest alteration; and certainly it has happened to few men to be the authors of a political measure of more large and enduring consequence. It fixed for ever the character of the population in the vast regions northwest of the Ohio, by excluding from them involuntary servitude. It impressed on the soil itself, while it was yet a wilderness, an incapacity to sustain any other than freemen. It laid the interdict against personal servitude, in original compact, not only deeper than all local law, but deeper, also, than all local constitutions. Under the circumstances then existing, I look upon this original and seasonable provision as a real good attained. We see its consequences at this moment, and we shall never cease to see them, perhaps, while the Ohio shall flow. It was a great and salutary measure of prevention. Sir, I should fear the rebuke of no intelligent gentleman of Kentucky, were I to ask whether, if such an ordinance could have been applied to his own State, while it yet was a wilderness, and before Boone had passed the gap of the Alleghanies, he does not suppose it would have contributed to the ultimate greatness of that commonwealth? It is, at any rate, not to be doubted, that, where it did apply, it has produced an effect not easily to be described or measured, in the growth of the States, and the extent and increase of their population. Now, Sir, as I have stated, this great measure was brought forward in 1787, by the North. It was sustained, indeed, by the votes of the South, but it must have failed without the cordial support of the New England States. If New England had been governed by the narrow and selfish views now ascribed to her, this very measure was, of all others, the best calculated to thwart her purposes. It was, of all things, the very means of rendering certain a vast emigration from her own population to the West. She looked to that consequence only to disregard it. She deemed the regulation a most useful one to the States that would spring up on the territory, and advantageous to the coun: try at large. She adhered to the principle of it perseveringly, year after year, until it was finally accomplished.
Leaving, then, Mr. President, these two great and leading measures, and coming down to our own times, what is there in the history of recent measures of government that exposes New England to this accusation of hostility to Western interests? I assert, boldly, that, in all measures conducive to the welfare of the West, since my acquaintance here, no part of the country has manifested a more liberal policy. I beg to say, Sir, that I do not state this with a view of claiming for her any special regard on that account. Not at all. She does not place her support of measures on the ground of favor conferred. Far otherwise. What she has done has been consonant to her view of the general good, and therefore she has done it. She has sought to make no gain of it; on the contrary, individuals may have felt, undoubtedly, some natural regret at finding the relative importance of their own States diminished by the growth of the West. But New England has regarded that as the natural course of things, and has never complained of it. Let me see, Sir, any one measure favorable to the West, which has been opposed by New England, since the government bestowed its attention on these Western improvements. Select what you will, if it be a measure of acknowledged utility, I answer for it, it will be found that not only were New England votes for it, but that New England votes carried it. Will you take the Cumberland Road? who has made that? Will you take the Portland Canal ? whose support carried that bill? Sir, at what period beyond the Greek kalends could these measures, or measures like these, have been accomplished, had they depended on the votes of Southern gentlemen? Why, Sir, we know that we must have waited till the constitutional notions of those gentlemen had undergone an entire change. Generally speaking, they have done nothing, and can do nothing. All that has been effected has been done by the votes of reproached New Eng. land. I undertake to say, Sir, that if you look to the votes on any one of these measures, and strike out from the list of ayes the names of New England members, it will be found that, in every case, the South would then have voted down the West, and the measure would have failed. I do not believe any one instance can be found where this is not strictly true. believe that one dollar has been expended for these purposes beyond the mountains, which could have been obtained without cordial coöperation and support from New England.
Sir, I put the question to the West itself. Let gentlemen who have sat here ten years come forth and declare, by what
aids, and by whose votes, they have succeeded, in measures deemed of essential importance to their part of the country. To all men of sense and candor, in or out of Congress, who have any knowledge upon the subject, New England may appeal for refutation of the reproach it is now attempted to cast upon her in this respect.
I take the liberty to repeat, that I make no claim on behalf of New England, or on account of that which I have now stated. She does not profess to have acted out of favor; for it would not become her so to have acted. She asks for no especial thanks; but, in the consciousness of having done her duty in these things uprightly and honestly, and with a fair and liberal spirit, be assured she will repel, whenever she thinks the occasion calls for it, an unjust and groundless imputation of partiality and selfishness.
The gentleman alluded to a report of the late Secretary of the Treasury, which, according to his reading or construction of it, recommended what he calls the tariff policy, or a branch of that policy; that is, the restraining of emigration to the West, for the purpose of keeping hands at home to carry on manufactures. I think, Sir, that the gentleman misapprehended the meaning of the Secretary, in the interpretation given to his remarks. I understand him only as saying, that, since the low price of lands at the West acts as a constant and standing bounty to agriculture, it is, on that account, the more reasonable to provide encouragement for manufactures. But, Sir, even if the Secretary's observation were to be understood as the gentleman understands it, it would not be a sentiment borrowed from any New England source. Whether it be right or wrong, it does not originate in that quarter.
In the course of these remarks, Mr. President, I have spoken of the supposed desire, on the part of the Atlantic States, to check, or at least not to hasten, Western emigration, as a narrow policy. Perhaps I ought to have qualified the expression; because, Sir, I am now about to quote the opinion of one to whom I would impute nothing narrow. I am about to refer you to the language of a gentleman of much and deserved distinction, a member of the other House, and occupying a prominent situation there. The gentleman, Sir, is from South Carolina. In 1825, a debate arose in the House of Representatives on the subject of the Western Road. It happened to me to take some part in the debate; I was answered by the honorable gentleman to whom I allude, and I replied. May I be pardoned, Sir, if I read a part of this debate.
“ The gentleman from Massachusetts has urged,” said Mr. McDuffie, " as one leading reason why the government should make roads to the West, that these roads have a tendency to settle the public lands; that they increase the inducements to settlement, and that this is a national object. Sir, I differ entirely from his views on the subject. I think that the public lands are settling quite fast enough; that our people need no stimulus to urge them thither, but want rather a check, at least on that artificial tendency to Western settlement which we have created by our own laws.
“The gentleman says, that the great object of government with respect to those lands is, not to make them a source of revenue, but to get them settled. What would have been thought of this argument in the old thirteen States ? It amounts to this, that those States are to offer a bonus of their own impoverishment, to create a vortex to swallow up our floating population. Look, Sir, at the present aspect of the Southern States. In no part of Europe will you see the same indications of decay. Deserted villages, houses falling to ruin, impoverished lands thrown out of cultivation. Sir, I believe that, if the public lands had never been sold, the aggregate amount of the national wealth would have been greater at this moment. Our population, if concentrated in the old States, and not ground down by tariffs, would have been more prosperous and wealthy. But every inducement has been held out to them to settle in the West, until our population has become sparse, and then the effects of this sparseness are now to be counteracted by another artificial system. Sir, I say if there is any object worthy the attention of this government, it is a plan which shall limit the sale of the public lands. If those lands were sold according to their real value, be it so. But while the government continues as it does to give them away, they will draw the population of the older States, and still further increase the effect which is already distressingly felt, and which must go to diminish the value of all those States possess. And this, Sir, is held out to us as a motive for granting the present appropriation. I would not, indeed, prevent the formation of roads on these considerations, but I certainly would not encourage it. Sir, there is an additional item in the account of the benefits which this government has conferred on the Western States. It is the sale of the public lands at the minimum price. At this moment we are selling to the people of the West, lands, at one dollar and twenty-five cents, which are worth fifteen dollars, and which would sell at that price if the markets were not glutted.”
Mr. Webster observed, in reply, that
“The gentleman from South Carolina had mistaken him, if he supposed that it was his wish so to hasten the sales of the public lands, as to throw them into the hands of purchasers who would sell again. His idea only went as far as this : that the price should be fixed so low as not to prevent the settlement of the lands, yet not so low as to allow speculators to purchase. Mr. Webster observed, that he could not at all concur with the gentleman from South Carolina, in wishing to restrain the laboring classes of population in the Eastern States from going to any part of our territory where they could better their condition ; nor did he suppose that such an idea was anywhere entertained. The observations of the gentleman had opened to him new views of policy on this subject, and he thought he now could perceive why some of our States continued to have such bad roads; it must be for the purpose of preventing people from going out of them. The gentleman from South Carolina supposes, that, if our population had been confined to the old thirteen States, the aggregate wealth of the country would have been greater than it now is. But, Sir, it is an error, that the increase of the aggregate of the national wealth is the object chiefly to be pursued by government. The distribution of the national wealth is an object quite as important as its increase. He was not surprised that the old States not increasing in population so fast as was expected, (for he believed nothing like a decrease was pretended,) should be an idea by no means agreeable to gentlemen from those States. We are all reluctant to submit to the loss of relative importance; but this was nothing more than the natural condition of a country densely peopled in one part, and possessing in another a vast tract of unsettled lands. The plan of the gentleman went to reverse the order of nature, vainly expecting to retain men within a small and comparatively unproductive territory,' who have all the world before them where to choose.' For his own part, he was in favor of letting population take its own course ; he should experience no feeling of mortification if any of his constituents liked better to settle on the Kansas or Arkansas, or elsewhere within our territory; let them go, and be happier if they could. The gentleman says, our aggregate of wealth would have been greater if our population had been restrained within the limits of the old States; but does he not consider population to be wealth ? And has not this been increased by the settlement of a new and fertile country ? Such a country presents the most alluring of all prospects to a young and laboring man; it gives him a freehold, it offers to him weight and respectability in society; and above all, it presents to him a prospect of a permanent provision for his chil. dren. Sir, these are inducements which never were resisted, and never