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States generally. It was thus proposed to as- had, in the several States, some experience on sign, in the first place, seventeen and a half per that subject; and, without going into any decent. to the new States, and then to divide the tails on the subject, he would merely state that whole of the residue among the twenty-four it was known, that, for a long period, the sinall States. And, in order to do away any inequality amount of the public domain possessed by some among the new States, grants are specifically of the States, in comparison with the quantity made by the bill to those who had not received, possessed by the general government, had been heretofore, as much lands as the rest of the new à cause of great agitation in the public mind, States, from the general government, so as to and had greatly influenced the course of legislaput all the new States on an equal footing. This tion. Persons coming from the quarter of the twelve and a half per cent., to the new States, State in which the public land was situated, to be at their disposal, for either education or united in sympathy and interest, constituted alinternal improvement, and the residue to be at ways a body who acted together, to promote the disposition of the States, subject to no other their common object, either by donations to limitation than this: that it shall be at their settlers, or reduction in the price of the public option to apply the amount received either to lands, or the relief of those who are debtors for the purposes of education, or the colonization of the public domain; and were always ready, as free people of color, or for internal improve men always will be, to second all those measures ments, or in debts which may have been con- which look towards the accomplishment of the tracted for internal improvements. And, with main object which they have in view. So, if respect to the duration of this scheme of distri- this question were not now settled, it would be bution proposed by the bill, it is limited to five a source of inexpressible difficulty hereafter, inyears, unless hostilities shall occur between the fluencing all the great interests of the country, United States and any foreign power; in which in Congress, affecting great events without, and event, the proceeds are to be applied to the car- perhaps adding another to those unhappy causes rying on such war, with vigor and effect, against of division, which unfortunately exist at this any common enemy with whom we may be moment." brought in contact. After the conclusion of peace, and after the discharge of the debt created In his arguments in support of his bill, Mr. by any such war, the aggregate funds to return Clay looked to the lands as a source of revenue to that peaceful destination to which it was the

to the States or the federa' government from intention of the bill that they should now be directed, that is, to the improvement of the moral their sale, and not from heir settlement and and physical condition of the country, and the cultivation, and the revenue to be derived from promotion of the public happiness and pros- the wealth and population to which their settleperity.”

ment would give rise ; and, concluding with an He then spoke of the advantages of settling encomium on his bill under the aspect of revenue the question of the manner of disposing of the from sales, he said: public lands, and said:

“ He could not conceive a more happy dispo“ The first remark which seemed to him to be sition of the proceeds of the public lands, than called for, in reference to this subject, was as to that which was provided by this bill. It was the expediency, he would say the necessity, of supposed that five years would be neither too its immediate settlement. On this point, he was long nor too short a period for a fair experiment. happy to believe that there was a unanimous In case a war should break out, we may withconcurrence of opinion in that body. However draw from its peaceful destination a sum of from they might differ as to the terms on which the two and a half to three and a half millions of distribution of these lands should be made, they dollars per annum, and apply it to a vigorous all agreed that it was a question which ought to prosecution of the war—a sum which would pay be promptly and finally, he hoped amicably, ad- the interest on sixty millions of dollars, which justed. No time more favorable than the pre- might be required to sustain the war, and a sum sent moment could be selected for the settlement which is constantly and progressively increasing. of this question. The last session was inuch It proposes, now that the general government less favorable for the accomplishment of this has no use for the money, now that the surplus object; and the reasons were sufficiently obvi- treasure is really a source of vexatious embarous, without any waste of time in their specifi- rassment to us, and gives rise to a succession of cation. If the question were not now settled, projects, to supply for a short time a fund to but if it were to be made the subject of an an- the States which want our assistance, to advance nual discussion, mixing itself up with all the to them that which we do not want, and which measures of legislation, it would be felt in its they will apply to great beneficial national purinfluence upon all, would produce great dissen- poses; and, should war take place, to divert it sions both in and out of the House, and affect to the vigorous support of the war ; and, when extensively all the great and important objects it ceases, to apply it again to its peaceful purwhich might be before that body. They had poses. And thus we may grow, from time to time, with a fund which will endure for cen- Knight, Poindexter, Prentiss, Robbins, Ruggles, turies, and which will augment with the growth Seymour, Silsbee, Sprague, Tomlinson, Waggaof the nation, aiding the States in seasons of man, Wilkins-24. peace, and sustaining the general government in Nays.-Messrs. Benton, Black, Brown, Buckperiods of war."

ner, Calhoun, Forsyth, Grundy, Hill, Kane, King,

Mangum. Miller, Moore, Rives, Robinson, Smith, Mr. Calhoun deprecated this distribution of Tipton, Tyler, White, Wright—20. the land money as being dangerous in itself and

The bill went to the House and receired unconstitutional, and as leading to the distribution of other revenue-in which he was pro

amendments, which did not obtain the concurphetic. He said:

rence of the Senate until midnight of the first

of March, which, being the short session, was “ He could not yield his assent to the mode within twenty-four hours of the constitutional which this bill proposed to settle the agitated termination of the Congress, which was limited question of the public lands. In addition to several objections of a minor character, he had to the 3d—which falling this year on Sunday, an insuperable objection to the leading principle the Congress would adjourn at midnight of the of the bill, which proposed to distribute the 2nd. Further efforts were made to postpone proceeds of the lands among the States. He believed it to be both dangerous and unconsti- | it, and upon the ground that, in a bill of that tutional. He could not assent to the principle

, magnitude and novelty, the President was enthat Congress had a right to denationalize the titled to the full ten days for the consideration public funds. He agreed that the objection was of it which the constitution allowed him, and not so decided in case of the proceeds of lands, as he would have but half a day; for if passed in that of revenue collected from taxes or duties. The senator from Ohio had adduced evidence that night it could only reach him in the forefrom the deed of cession, which certainly coun- noon of the next day-leaving him but half a tenanced the idea that the proceeds of the lands day for his consideration of the measure, where might be subject to the distribution proposed the constitution allowed him ten; and that half in the bill; but he was far from being satisfied that the argument was solid or conclusive. If day engrossed with all crowded business of an the principle of distribution could be confined to expiring session. The next evening, the Presithe proceeds of the lands, he would acknowledge dent attended, as usual, in a room adjoining the that his objection to the principle would be Senate chamber, to be at hand to sign bills and weakened.

“ He dreaded the force of precedent, and he make nominations. It was some hours in the foresaw that the time would come when the night when the President sent for me, and withexample of the distribution of the proceeds of drawing into the recess of a window, told me the public lands would be urged as a reason for that he had a veto message ready on the land distributing the revenue derived from other

Nor would the argument be devoid of bill, but doubted about sending it in, lest there plausibility. If we, of the Atlantic States, insist should not be a full Senate; and intimated his that the revenue of the West, derived from lands, apprehension that Mr. Calhoun and some of his should be equally distributed among all the friends might be absent, and endanger the bill : States, we must not be surprised if the interior and wished to consult me upon that point. I States should, in like manner, insist to distribute the proceeds of the customs, the great source of told him I would go and reconnoitre the chamber, revenue in the Atlantic States. Should such a and adjacent rooms; did so—found that Mr. movement be successful, it must be obvious to Calhoun and his immediate friends were absent every one, who is the least acquainted with the returned and informed him, when he said he workings of the human heart, and the nature of government, that nothing would more certainly would keep the bill until the next session, and endanger the existence of the Union. The re- then return it with a fully considered message venue is the power of the State, and to distribute —his present one being brief, and not such as its revenue is to dissolve its power into its to show his views fully. I told him I thought original elements."

he ought to do so—that such a measure ought Attempts were made to postpone the bill to not to be passed in the last hours of a session, the next session, which failed; and it passed the in a thin Senate, and upon an imperfect view of Senate by a vote of 24 to 20.

his objections; and that the public good required YEAS.—Messrs. Bell, Chambers, Clay, Clay

it to be held up. It was so; and during the ton, Dallas, Dickerson, Dudley, Ewin?, Foot, long vacation of nine months which intervened Frelinghuysen, Hendricks, Holmes, Johnston, before the next session, the opposition presses



and orators kept the country filled with denun- common benefit of the several States, 'according ciations of the enormity of his conduct in “pock- to their respective and usual proportion in the eting" the bill- ---as if it had been a case of " flat general charge and expenditure ?" The cessions

of Virginia, North Carolina, and Georgia, in exburglary," instead of being the exercise of a

press terms, and all the rest impliedly, not only constitutional right, rendered most just and provide thus specifically the proportion, accordproper under the extraordinary circumstances ing to which each State shall profit by the prowhich had attended the passage, and intended clare that they sball 'be “faitňfully and bona

ceeds of the land sales, but they proceed to dereturn of the bill. At the commencement of fide disposed of for that purpose, and for no the ensuing session he returned the bill, with his other use or purpose whatsoever.' This is the well-considered objections, in an ample message, fundamental law of the land, at this moment, which, after going over a full history of the growing out of compacts which are older than derivation of the lands, came to the following on which the Union itself was erected.

the constitution, and formed the corner stone conclusions :

“In the practice of the government, the pro

ceeds of the public lands have not been set “1. That one of the fundamental principles, apart as a separate fund for the payment of the on which the confederation of the United States public debt, but have been, and are now, paid was originally based, was, that the waste lands into the treasury, where they constitute a part of the West, within their limits, should be the of the aggregate of revenue, upon which the common property of the United States.

government draws, as well for its current ex“2. That those lands were ceded to the United penditures as for payment of the public debt. States by the States which claimed them, and În this manner, they have heretofore, and do the cessions were accepted, on the express con- now, lessen the general charge upon the people dition that they should be disposed of for the of the several States, in the exact proportions common benefit of the States, according to their stipulated in the compacts. respective proportions in the general charge and * These general charges have been composed, expenditure, and for no other purpose what- not only of the public debt and the usual ex

penditures attending the civil and military ad“ 3. That, in execution of these solemn com- ministrations of the government, but of the pacts, the Congress of the United States did, amounts paid to the States, with which these under the confederation, proceed to sell these compacts were formed; the amounts paid the Inlands, and put the avails into the common trea- dians for their right of possession; the amounts sury; and, under the new constitution, did re- paid for the purchase of Louisiana and Florida; peatedly pledge them for the payment of the and the amounts paid surveyors, registers, republic debt of the United States, by which ceivers, clerks, &c., employed in preparing for pledge each State was expected to profit in pro- market, and selling, the western domain. From portion to the general charge to be made upon the origin of the land system, down to the 30th it for that object.

September, 1832, the amount expended for all " These are the first principles of this whole these purpose has been about $19,701,280 and subject, which, I think, cannot be contested by the amount received from the sales, deducting any one who examines the proceedings of the payments on account of roads, &c., about $38,revolutionary Congress, the sessions of the 386,624. The revenue arising from the public several States, and the acts of Congress, under lands, therefore, has not been sufficient to meet the new constitution. Keeping them deeply im- the general charges on the treasury, which have pressed upon the mind, let us proceed to exam- grown out of them, by about $11,314,656. Yet, ine how far the objects of the cessions have been in having been applied to lessen those charges, completed, and see whether those compacts are the conditions of the compacts have been thus not still obligatory upon the United States. far fulfilled, and each State has profited accord

“The debt, for which these lands were pledged ing to its usual proportion in the general charge by Congress, may be considered as paid, and and expenditure. The annual proceeds of land they are consequently released from that lien. sales have increased, and the charges have diminBut that pledge formed no part of the compacts ished; so that, at á reduced price, those lands with the States, or of the conditions upon which would now defray all current charges growing the cessions were made. It was a contract be- out of them, and save the treasury from further tween new parties—between the United States advances on their account. Their original intent and their creditors. Upon payment of the debt, and object, therefore, would be accomplished, as the compacts remain in full force, and the obli- fully as it has hitherto been, by reducing the gation of the United States to dispose of the price, and hereafter, as heretofore, bringing the lands for the common benefit, is neither des proceeds into the treasury. Indeed, as this is troyed nor impaired. As they cannot now be the only mode in which the objects of the origiexecuted in that mode, the only legitimate ques- nal compact can be attained, it may be consition which can arise is, in what other way are dered, for all practical purposes, that it is one of these lands to be hereafter disposed of for the their requirements.

“The bill before me begins with an entire sub- prejudice any claims of the United States, or of version of every one of the compacts by which any particular State,' it virtually provides that the United States became possessed of their these compacts, and the rights they secure, shall western domain, and treats the subject as if remain untouched by the legislative power, which they never had existence, and as if the United shall only make all ncedful rules and regulaStates were the original and unconditional own- tions' for carrying them into effect. Ali beers of all the public lands. The first section yond this, would seem to be an assumption of directs

undelegated power. 6 That, from and after the 31st day of De “These ancient compacts are invaluable monucember, 1832, there shall be allowed and paid ments of an age of virtue, patriotism, and disinto each of the States of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, terestedness. They exhibit the price that great Alabama, Missouri, Mississippi, and Louisiana, States, which had won liberty, were willing to over and above what each of the said States is pay for that Union, without which, they plainly entitled to by the terms of the compacts entered saw, it could not be preserved. It was not for into between them, respectively, upon their ad- territory or State power that our revolutionary mission into the Union and the United States, fathers took up arms; it was for individual the sum of twelve and a half per centum upon liberty, and the right of self-government. The the net amount of the sales of the public lands, expulsion, from the continent, of British armies which, subsequent to the day afosesaid, shall be and British power was to them a barren conmade within the several limits of the said States; quest, if, through the collisions of the redeemed which said sum of twelve and a half per centum States, the individual rights for which they shall be applied to some object or objects of in- fought should become the prey of petty military ternal improvement or education, within the tyrannies established at home. To avert such said States, under the direction of their several consequences, and throw around liberty the legislatures.

shield of union, States, whose relative strength, “ This twelve and a half per centum is to be at the time, gave them a preponderating power, taken out of the net proceeds of the land sales, magnanimously sacrificed domains which would before any apportionment is made; and the same have made them the rivals of empires, only seven States, which are first to receive this pro- stipulating that they should be disposed of for portion, are also to receive their due proportion the common benefit of themselves and the other of the residue, according to the ratio of general confederated States. This enlightened policy distribution.

produced union, and has secured liberty. It has “Now, waiving all considerations of equity made our waste lands to swarm with a busy or policy, in regard to this provision, what more people, and added many powerful States to our need be said to demonstrate its objectionable confederation. As well for the fruits which character, than that it is in direct and undis- these noble works of our ancestors have proguised violation of the pledge given by Congress duced, as for the devotedness in which they to the States, before a single cession was made; originated, we should hesitate before we demolthat it abrogates the condition upon which some ish them. of the States came into the Union; and that it “But there are other principles asserted in sets at nought the terms of cession spread upon the bill, which would have impelled me to withthe face of every grant under which the title to hold my signature, had I not seen in it a violathat portion of the public land is held by the tion of the compacts by which the United States federal government ?

acquired title to a large portion of the public " In the apportionment of the remaining seven lands. It reasserts the principle contained in eighths of the proceeds, this bill, in a manner the bill authorizing a subscription to the stock equally undisguised, violates the conditions upon of the Maysville, Washington, Paris, and Lex, which the United States acquired title to the ington Turnpike Road Company, from which I ceded lands. Abandoning altogether the ratio was compelled to withhold my consent, for reaof distribution, according to the general charge sons contained in my message of the 27th May, and expenditure provided by the compacts, it 1830, to the House of Representatives. The adopts that of the federal representative popu- leading principle, then asserted, was, that Conlation. Virginia, and other States, which ceded gress possesses no constitutional power to ap, their lands upon the express condition that they propriate any part of the moneys of the United should receive a benefit from their sales, in pro- States for objects of a local character within the portion to their part of the general charge, are, States. That principle, I cannot be mistaken in by the bill, allowed only a portion of seven supposing, has received the unequivocal sanction eighths of their proceeds, and that not in the of the American people, and all subsequent re: proportion of general charge and expenditure, flection has but satisfied me more thoroughly but in the ratio of their federal representative that the interests of our people, and the purity population.

of our government, if not its existence, depend * The constitution of the United States did on its observance. The public lands are the not delegate to Congress the power to abrogate common property of the United States, and the these compacts. On the contrary, by declaring moneys arising from their sales are a part of the that nothing in it shall be so construed as to public revenue. This bill proposes to raise from,

The pro

and appropriate a portion of, this public revenue State governments. If this principle be once to certain States, providing expressly that it admitted, it is not difficult to perceive to what shall be applied to objects of internal improve consequences it may lead. Already this bill, by ment or education within those States,' and then throwing the land system on the revenues from proceeds to appropriate the balance to all the imports for support, virtually distributes among States, with the declaration that it shall be ap- the States a part of those revenues. plied 'to such purposes as the legislatures of portion may be increased from time to time, the said respective States shall deem proper.' without any departure from the principle now The former appropriation is expressly for inter- asserted, until the State governments shall denal improvements or education, without qualifi- rive all the funds necessary for their support cation as to the kind of improvements, and, from the treasury of the United States; or, if a therefore, in express violation of the principle sufficient supply should be obtained by some maintained in my objections to the turnpike States and not by others, the deficient States road bill, above referred to. The latter appro- might complain, and, to put an end to all furpriation is more broad, and gives the money to ther difficulty, Congress, without assuming any be applied to any local purpose whatsoever. It new principle, need go but one step further, and will not be denied, that, under the provisions of put the salaries of all the State governors, judgthe bill, a portion of the money might have been es, and other officers, with a sufficient sum for applied to making the very road to which the other expenses, in their general appropriation bill

. bill of 1830 had reference, and must, of course, “It appears to me that a more direct road to come within the scope of the samé principle. consolidation cannot be devised. Money is If the money of the United States cannot be ap- power, and in that government which pays all plied to local purposes through its own agents, the public officers of the States, will all political as little can it be permitted to be thus expended power be substantially concentrated. The State through the agency of the State governments. governments, if governments they might be call

“It has been supposed that, with all the reduced, would lose all their independence and dignitions in our revenue which could be speedily ty. The economy which now distinguishes them effected by Congress, without injury to the sub- would be converted into a profusion, limited only stantial interests of the couutry, there might be, by the extent of the supply. Being the depenfor some years to come, a surplus of moneys in dants of the general government, and looking to the treasury; and that there was, in principle, its treasury as the source of all their emoluno objection to returning them to the people by ments, the State officers, under whatever names whom they were paid. As the literal accom- they might pass, and by whatever forms their plishment of such an object is obviously imprac- duties might be prescribed, would, in effect, be ticable, it was thought admissible, as the nearest the mere stipendaries and instruments of the approximation to it, to hand them over to the central power. State governments, the more immediate repre- “I am quite sure that the intelligent people sentatives of the people, to be by them applied of our several States will be satisfied, on a little to the benefit of those to whom they properly reflection, that it is neither wise nor safe to rebelonged. The principle and the object was, to lease the members of their local legislatures from return to the people an unavoidable surplus of the responsibility of levying the taxes necessary revenue which might have been paid by them to support their State governments, and vest it under a system whieh could not at once be aban- in Congress, over most of whose members they doned; but even this resource, which at one time have no control. They will not think it exseemed to be almost the only alternative to save pedient that Congress shall be the tax-gatherer the general government from grasping unlimited and paymaster of all their State governments, power over internal improvements, was suggest thus amalgamating all their officers into one mass ed with doubts of its constitutionality.

of common interest and common feeling. It is “But this bill assumes a new principle. Its too obvious that such a course would subvert object is not to return to the people an unavoidable our well-balanced system of government, and surplus of revenue paid in by them, but to create ultimately deprive us of the blessings now dea surplus for distribution among the States. It rived from our happy union. seizes the entire proceeds of one source of reven- “ However willing I might be that any unue, and sets them apart as a surplus, making it avoidable surplus in the treasury should be renecessary to raise the money for supporting the turned to the people through their State governgovernment, and meeting the general charges, ments, I cannot assent to the principle that a from other sources. It even throws the entire surplus may be created for the purpose of disland system upon the customs for its support, tribution. Viewing this bill as, in effect, assumand makes the public lands a perpetual charge ing the right not only to create a surplus for upon the treasury. It does not return to the that purpose, but to divide the contents of the people moneys accidentally or unavoidably paid treasury among the States without limitation, by them to the government by which they are from whatever source they may be derived, and not wanted; but compels the people to pay asserting the power to raise and appropriate moneys into the treasury for the mere purpose money for the support of every State governof creating a surplus for distribution to their ment and institution, as well as for making ev


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