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European and other foreign vagrants, knaves and paupers; and will not the poor man, the honest, virtuous, and industrious poor man of this country, be effectually excluded from the vast benefits and advantages of this and similar laws, if you reject the amendment I have offered? Yes, sir, they will be excluded by the preoccupancy of knaves and paupers of the old world. Already this description of persons are flocking in most pernicious herds to this country; let it once be known that they are admitted to the free and full enjoyment of the advantages of these pre-emption laws; that they are authorized by Congress to come in any numbers, and seize upon the inheritance of the American people, and the character of our frontier population will be sadly changed. No longer shall we find our frontier, as it extends farther and farther west, peopled by brave and hardy and patriotic yeomanry. That which has hitherto been the bulwark, may become the scourge of the country. You will have there a vicious, corrupt, and debased swarm of outcasts from Europe; and the poor but honest and proud-hearted American freeman will rather die in poverty and want, than dwell among such people. No, sir, he will never go among them; and you exclude him as effectually, by refusing to shut the door against such alien intruders, as if you were to proscribe him by name in your statute. Make the professions I have heard good; so frame this bill in fact to enable the meritorious poor mer. of our own country who have them not, to acquire homes and comfort and independence for themselves and families, and my heart will be with you; at all events, bestow not the property of the citizens of this Union in bounties upon aliens, who owe you no allegiance, who have no sympathies for, no ties to bind them to you, but who are from habit and education hostile to all those institutions so dear to this republican people. Sir, so to bestow this property, to pass this bill as it now stands, without the amendment, will be an outrage upon the rights as well as the feelings of the American people.
I make no special or particular opposition to foreigners by the amendment offered; that amendment only goes to exclude persons not naturalized from the bounty, large bounty, of the government, which, I repeat it, sir, if granted at all, can be granted, with color
I of justice and right, only to such citizens as may be settlers on these lands. Foreigners who may come here, are left to the enjoyment of all rights under pre-existing laws, and according to the pre-existing policy of the country. They will have the same right that I myself have, or the people whom I in part represent on this floor, to attend the sales of government land, and there purchase at open auction, or acquire by private entry, lands liable to be taken in that way, in such States as please to allow those who owe them no allegiance by nature or otherwise, to become the owners of the soil. The wisdom of that policy I leave to the consideration of the States which have adopted it; but I never can consent to bestow the property of the people of Maryland, and of the Union, as a bounty upon aliens.
This policy originated with the act, now attempted to be revived, of 1830; and so obvious was the propriety and justice of excluding aliens from the benefit of the provisions of that law, that even the gentlemen's own friends, the very officer to whom was confided the administration of the law, doubted and questioned, and well might, whether these people were embraced within its spirit ; whether Congress could possibly have intended to extend its provisions to aliens. He, sir, questioned and well questioned, whether such could be the true intention of Congress; and so strong were his doubts, that they could not be quieted without consulting the law officer of the government, the Attorney General. The opinion of this last mentioned official personage I now hold in my hand, sir. It is unnecessary to read it; but the conclusion to which he comes is, that aliens, not being excluded in terms, and the words of the law being general, a persons, aliens as well as citizens, must be admitted to all the advantages granted by it. It is plain, then, it has not been heretofore considered the settled policy of the govern. ment to grant domain as a gratuity to intruders from foreign countries. Strange, indeed, in the present condition of this country, would be such a policy; and still more strange would it be if the Senate now reject the amendment made, under consideration. It is time to check this evil; it is pregnant with danger; it is pregnant with wrong and injustice. I trust, sir, the Senate will not refuse to adopt the amendment; but that, by ingrafting it on the bill, which it is easy to foresee will pass this body in some shape, they will prove to the country that our own citizens, whose property we are disposing of, are still deemed worthy of a preference, in the distribution, over strangers and aliens.
I desire, Mr. President, to make a single remark in reply to the honorable Senator from Pennsylvania, (Mr. Buchanan.) That Senator, in announcing briefly his opposition to the amendment before the Senate, remarked that there seemed to be an extraordinary spirit of opposition to foreigners, manifesting itself in the country. I think, on the contrary, there is a morbid affection manifested here and elsewhere for foreigners and aliens. The Senator observed, Mr. President, he might be allowed to be somewhat sensitive upon such a subject, as he himself was the son of a foreigner, who was afterwards naturalized. Sir, allow me to tell the Senator, in this respect we are alike; I too, sir, am the son of a foreigner, who became a naturalized citizen ; and yet, sir, I love my own native country, and my fellow-citizens, better than foreigners. I have been thanked too, sir, by the honorable Senator over the way, (Mr. Benton,) for introducing the amendment; and the intimation was that I, and those who act with me, were to be held to account somewhere for the course we are pursuing. On my soul, sir, the Senator is heartily welcome to all the advantages he can gain by the amendment I have the honor to submit. I have discharged my duty, sir, to the people of Maryland, who sent me here, and the people of the Union, all of whom have a common interest with us in the question, by presenting the amendment, and I am ready and willing at any and all times, to meet all the consequences, and all the responsibility, of going for my own coun. try, and my fellow-citizens, native and naturalized, against aliens.
R. M. Young, of Illinois, said:
The object of this amendment of the honorable Senator from Maryland, (Mr. Merrick,) is to exclude foreigners not naturalized from the advantages held out by this bill to native citizens, and to such as have been naturalized. I, sir, can never consent to this distinction. By the constitution and laws of Illinois, the State of my adoption, foreigners may vote, they may be elected to offices of the most important character, and are made capable of purchasing, holding, enjoying, and again transferring real estate, by will or otherwise. Yes, Mr. President, I have seen a foreigner, not naturalized, a member of our State Legislature, enjoying all the privileges of a native citizen. Many of them are my acquaintances and friends, and I cannot vote against them. I hope, therefore, Mr. President, that the amendment may not be adopted.
Henry Clay is reported as follows:
“ He wished the Senate would go for the interests of the whole Union, as a people, and not so exclusively for the new States. This domain was the public property—the property of the whole people of the United States; and he thanked the Senator from Maryland for introducing a proposition for conferring the bounty of the government to
our own race, instead of holding out a general invitation to all the paupers of all the European governments to come here, and compete with our own honest poor.
Mr. Clay, in reply to Mr. Buchanan, said :
“ The honorable Senator from Pennsylvania has alluded eulogistically to foreigners. Does he mean to compare the De Kalbs, the Steubens, the Lafayettes, the Pulaskis, with the hordes of foreign paupers that are constantly flooding our shores? There were other foreigners who mingled in our revolutionary struggle, but on the other side, the Hessians,—and can they be compared with those gallant men who came here to aid in the cause of struggling liberty? He thought this government had been quite as liberal in its policy towards foreigners, as was proper or desirable ; and no Senator would vote against the proposition of the Senator from Maryland, with more pleasure than that with which he would vote for it.”
James Buchanan said :
This amendment proposed to make invidious distinction, which had never been made heretofore in our legislation, against foreigners who had settled upon the public lands, and had not been naturalized prior to the first day of December last. Whilst it granted pre-emptions in such cases to our own citizens, it excluded these foreigners. Why had this change been proposed in our settled policy? He had observed with regret, that attempts were now extensively making throughout the country, to excite what was called a native American feeling against those who had come from a foreign land to participate in the blessings of our free Constitution. Such a feeling was unjust—it was ungrateful. In the darkest days of the revolution, who had assisted us in fighting our battles, and achieving our independence? Foreigners, yes, sir, foreigners. He would not say, for he did not believe, that our independence could not have been established without their aid; but he would say the struggle would have been longer and more doubtful. After the revolution, immigration had been encouraged by our policy. Throughout the long and bloody wars in Europe which had followed the French revolution, this country had ever been an asylum for the oppressed of all nations. He trusted that at this late day, the Congress of the United States were not about to establish for the first time, such an odious distinction between one of our citizens 'who had settled upon the public lands, and his neighbor who had pursued the same course under the faith of your previous policy, merely because that neighbor had not resided long enough in the United States to have become a naturalized citizen. He was himself the son of a naturalized foreigner, and perhaps might feel this distinction the more sensibly on that account.
Mr. B. had been asked by the senator from Kentucky if he would compare the hordes of foreign paupers that are constantly flooding our shores with the De Kalbs, the Steubens, the Lafayettes, and the Pulaskis of the Revolution ? It was easy to ask such a question. He felt a deep and grateful veneration for the memory of those illustrious men. They were leaders of our armies; but what could they have accomplished without soldiers? Was it not a fact known to the world, that the immigrants from the Emerald Isle—that land of brave hearts and strong arms—had shed their blood freely in the cause of our liberty and independence? It was now both ungrateful and unjust to speak of these people, in the days of our prosperity, as hordes of foreign paupers. Such was not the language applied to them during the revolutionary war, when they constituted a large and effective proportion of our armies. The senator had asked if he
(Mr. B.) would grant pre-emptions to the Hessians. It is true they had fought upon the wrong side, and were not much entitled to our sympathies. Still some apology might be made, even for them. They were the slaves of despotic power : and they were sold by their masters, like cattle, to the British Government. They had no will of their own, but were under the most abject subjection to petty princes, who considered themselves, by the grace of God, born to command them. But the condition even of the poor Hessian has since been greatly improved. The principles of liberty, which were sanctified by the American Revolution, are winning their way among every civilized people. In no country have they made greater progress than among the people of Germany. The Hessian of the present day is far different from what his fathers were ; and let me tell senators from the West that the best settlers they can have amongst them are the Germans. Industrious, honest, and persevering, they make the best farmers of the country ; whilst their firmness of character qualifies them for defending it against any hostile attacks which may be made by the Indians along our western frontier. As to the hordes of foreigners of which we had heard, they did not alarm him. Any foreigner from any country under the sun, who, after landing with his family on our Atlantic coast, will make his long and weary way into the forests and prairies of the Mississippi, and there, by patient toil, establish a settlement upon the public lands, whilst he thus manifests his attachment to our institutions, shows that he is worthy of becoming an American citizen. He furnishes us by his conduct, the surest pledge that he will become a citizen the moment that the laws of the country permit. In the mean time, so far as my vote is concerned, he shall continue to stand upon the same footing with citizens, and have his quarter section of land at a minimum price.
John C. Calhoun expressed himself friendly to the amendment, but opposed to the bill.
The question on the amendment was taken by yeas and nays, and decided in the negative for the amendment 15, against it 28, as follows:
Yeas—Messrs. Bayard, Clay of Kentucky, Clayton, Crittenden, Knight, Merrick, Prentiss, Preston, Rives, Robbins, Smith of Indiana, Southard, Spence, Tallmadge, and Tipton—15.
Nays—Messrs. Allen, Benton, Brown, Buchanan, Calhoun, Clay of Alabama, Cuthbert, Fulton, Grundy, Hubbard, King, Linn, Lumpkin, Lyon, Morton, Nicholas, Niles, Norvell, Pierce, Roane, Robinson, Sevier, Walker, Webster, White, Williams, Wright, and Young—28.
At a later stage of the debate, Daniel Webster referred to the proposition of Mr. Merrick thus :
“It has been proposed to amend this bill, so as to limit its benefits to native or naturalized citizens of the United States. Although I have heretofore been disposed to favor such a proposition, yet, on the whole, I think it ought not to pass; because such a limitation has been altogether unknown, in our general system of land sales, and to introduce it here, where we are acting on rights already acquired, would be both invi. dious and unjust."
Henry Clay subsequently commented on the manner the bill had been carried, and spoke as follows:
“ What, he asked, had they seen ? A proposition was made by an honorable senator from Maryland (Mr. Merrick) to limit the pre-emptions to citizens of the United States,
native and naturalized; rejected. And could any body say, after that naked vote of the Senate, that it had not become the permanent policy of the country to go on inviting all the hordes of Europe to come over and partake of this bounty, derived from our ancestors, and which we should preserve for our post ?"
THE HOMESTEAD BILL.
On the 22d of January, 1850, Daniel Webster submitted the following resolution :
Resolved, That a provision ought to be made by law, that every male citizen of the United States, and every male person who has declared his intention of becoming a citizen, according to the provisions of the law, of twenty-one years of age, or upwards, shall be entitled to enter upon and take any one-quarter section of the public lands which may be left open to entry at private sale, for the purposes of residence and cultivation ; and that when such citizen shall have resided on the said land for three years, and cultivated the same, or if dying in the mean time, residence and cultivation shall be held and carried on by his widow, or, his heirs, or devisees, for the space of full three years from and after making entry of such land, such residence and cultivation, for the said three years, to be completed within four years from the time of such entry, then a patent to issue for the same, to the person making such entry, if living, or otherwise, to his heirs or devisees, as the case may require : Provided nevertheless, That such persons so entering and taking the quarter section as aforesaid, shall not have, nor shall his devisees, or heirs have, any power to alienate such land, nor create any title thereto, in law or equity, by deed, transfer, lease, or any other conveyance except by devise, or will."-See Congressional Globe, vol. i., pp. 210, 666.
In the House of Representatives, propositions of a similar character were introduced by Andrew Johnson, of Tennessee, and Henry D. Moore, of Pennsylvania, but no action was had on them. See Congressional Globe, vol. i., pp. 295, 1122, 1449, 1474.
At the first session of the thirty-second Congress, Mr. Johnson, of Tennessee, again introduced the subject in the House of Representatives, which was discussed at great length, and finally passed. See Congressional Globe from p. 29 to 1348. The bill was brought into the Senate, May 13th, but was not acted on during the remainder of the session, nor at the succeeding session. See Congressional Globe, page 1352 to 2266. At, the first session of the thirty-third Congress, as early as December 14th, John L. Dawson, of Pennsylvania, again introduced in the House of Representatives the subject, and, after much discussion, it was again