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In my present course, I but follow the example of Senators and Representatives of Massachusetts on kindred measures from their earliest introduction down to the present time. The first instance was in 1823, on the grant to the State of Ohio of land one hundred and twenty feet wide, with one mile on each side, for the construction of a road from the lower rapids of the Miami River to the western boundary of the Connecticut Reserve. On the final passage of this grant in the House, the Massachusetts delegation voted as follows: Yeas, - Samuel C. Allen, Henry W. Dwight, Timothy Fuller, Jeremiah Nelson, John Reed, Jonathan Russell ; Nay,-- Benjamin Gorham. . In the Senate the bill passed without a division. In 1828 a still greater unanimity occurred on the passage of the bill to aid the State of Ohio in extending the Miami Canal from Dayton to Lake Erie; and this bill is an early instance of the grant of alternate sections, as in that now before the Senate. On this the Massachusetts delegation in the House voted as follows: Yeas, -- Isaac C. Bates, Benjamin W. Crowninshield, John Davis, Edward Everett, John Locke, John Reed, Joseph Richardson, John Varnum; Nays, — none. In the Senate, Messrs. Silsbee and Webster both voted in the affirmative. I pass over intermediate grants, which, I am told, were sustained by the Massachusetts delegations with substantial unanimity. The extensive grants, by the last Congress, to Illinois, Mississippi, and Alabama, in aid of a railroad from Chicago to Mobile, were sustained by all the Massachusetts votes in the House, except one.
Still further, in sustaining the present bill on grounds of justice to the Land States, I but follow the recorded instructions of the Legislature of Massachusetts addressed to its Senators and Representatives here on a former occasion. The subject was presented in a special message to the Legislature in 1841, by the distinguished Governor at that time, who strongly urged “a liberal policy towards the actual settler, and towards the new States, for this is justly due to both.” And he added : “Such States are entitled to a more liberal share of the proceeds of the public lands than the old States, as we owe to their enterprise much of the value this property has acquired. It seems to me, therefore, that justice towards the States in which these lands lie demands a liberal and generous policy towards them." 2 In accordance with this recommendation, it was resolved by the Legislature, " That, in the disposition of the public lands, this Commonwealth approves of making liberal provisions in favor of the new States; and that she ever has been, and still is, ready to cooperate with other portions of the Union in securing to those States such provisions.” 3 Thus a generous policy towards the Land States, with liberal provisions in their favor, was considered by Massachusetts the part of justice.
It was my purpose, before this debate closed, to consider again the argument I formerly submitted, and to vindicate its accuracy in all respects, both in principle and in detail. But this has already been so amply done by others much abler than myself, — by the Senator from Missouri Mr. GEYER), both the Senators from Michigan [Mr. Felch and Mr. Cass], the Senator from Arkansas [Mr. BORLAND], the Senator from Iowa [Mr. DODGE], and the Senator from Louisiana [Mr. DoWNS], — all of whom, with different degrees of fulness, have urged the same grounds in favor of this bill, that I feel unwilling at this hour, and while the Senate actually waits to vote on the question, to occupy time by further dwelling upon it. Perhaps on some other occasion I may think
1 Hon. John Davis. 2 Mass. House Documents, 1841, No. 23, pp. 2, 3. 8 Mass. Acts and Resolves, 1841, p. 422.
proper to return to it. But, while avoiding what seems superfluous discussion, I cannot forbear asking your attention to the amendment of the Senator from Kentucky [Mr. UNDERWOOD].
This amendment, when addressed to Senators of the favored States, is of a most plausible character. It proposes to give portions of the public domain to the original Thirteen, together with Vermont, Maine, Tennessee, and Kentucky, for purposes of education and internal improvement, at the rate of one acre to each inhabitant according to the recent census. This is commended by the declared objects, — education and internal improvement. Still further, in its discrimination of the old States, it assumes a guise well calculated to tempt them into its support. It holds out the attraction of seeming, though unsubstantial, self-interest. It offers a lure, a bait, to be unjust. I object to it on several grounds.
1. But I put in the fore-front, as my chief objection, its clear, indubitable, and radical injustice, written on its very face. The amendment confines its donations to the old States, and, so doing, makes an inequitable discrimination in their favor. It tacitly assumes, that, by the bill in question, or in some other way, the Land States have received their proper distributive portion, so as to lose all title to share with the old States in the proposed distribution. But, if there be any force in the argument, so much considered in this debate, that these railroad grants actually enhance the value of the neighboring lands of the United States, and constitute a proper mode of bringing them into the market, or if there be any force in the other argument which I have presented, drawn from the equitable claims of the Land States, in comparison with the other States, to the bounty of the great untaxed proprietor, 1 then this assumption is unfounded. There is no basis for the discrimination made by the amendment. If the Iowa Land Bill be proper without this amendment, as most will admit, then this amendment, introducing a new discrimination, is improper. Nor do I well see how any one prepared to sustain the original bill can sustain the amendment. The Senator from Kentucky, who leads us to expect his vote for the bill, seems to confess the injustice of his attempted addition.
2. I object to it as out of place. The amendment engrafts upon a special railroad grant to a single State a novel distribution of the national domain. Now there is a place and a time for all things; and nothing seems to me more important in legislation than to keep all things in their proper place, and to treat them at their proper time. The distribution of the public lands is worthy of attention; and I am ready to meet this great question whenever it arises legitimately for our consideration; but I object to considering it merely as a rider to the Iowa Land Bill.
1 Mr. Webster, in his greatest speech, the celebrated reply to Mr. Hayne, touched on this consideration. He said: “And, finally, have not these new States singularly strong claims, founded on the ground already stated, that the Government is a great untaxed proprietor in the ownership of the soil ? " - Speeches, Vol. III.
The amendment would be less objectionable, if proposed as a rider to a general system of railroad grants, - as, for instance, to a bill embracing grants to all the Land States; but it is specially objectionable as a graft upon the present bill. The Senator who introduced it doubtless assumed that other bills, already introduced, would pass; but, if his amendment be founded on this assumption, it should wait the action of Congress on all these bills.
3. If adopted, the amendment might endanger, if it did not defeat, the Iowa Land Bill. This seems certain. Having this measure at heart, believing it founded in essential justice, I am unwilling to place it in this jeopardy.
4. It prepares the way for States of this Union to become landholders in other States, subject, of course, to the legislation of those States, - an expedient which, though not strictly objectionable on grounds of law, or under the Constitution, is not agreeable to our national policy. It should not be promoted without strong and special reasons. In the bill introduced by the Senator from Illinois [Mr. SHIELDS], bestowing lands for the benefit of the insane in different States, this objection is partially obviated by providing that the States in which there are no public lands shall select their portion in the Territories of the United States, and not in other States. But, since in a short time these very Territories
nay become States, this objection is rather adjourned than removed.
5. Lands held under this amendment, though in the hands of States, will be liable to taxation, as lands of other non-resident proprietors, and on this account will be comparatively valueless. For this reason I said that