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The Senate having under consideration the bill to grant to any person who is the head of a family, and a citizen of the United States, a homestead of one hundred and sixty acres of land out of the public domain, upon the condition of occupancy and cultivation of the same for the period of five years, MR. JOHNSON said:

MR. PRESIDENT: The immediate proposition before the Senate is an amendment offered by the honorable Senator from North Carolina,1 which provides that there shall be a land-warrant issued to each head of a family, by the Secretary of the Interior, and distributed among those who do not emigrate to the public domain and take possession of and cultivate the land for the term of years specified in the bill. I have something to say in reference to that amendment, but I will not say it in this connection. I will take it up in its order. I propose, in the first place, to explain briefly the provisions of the bill.

The first section provides for granting one hundred and sixty acres of land to every head of a family who will emigrate to any of the public do1 Mr. Clingman.

main and settle upon it, and cultivate it for a term of five years. Upon those facts being made known to the register of the land-office, the emigrant is to be entitled to obtain a patent. The second section provides that he shall make an affidavit, and show to the satisfaction of the officer that his entry is made in good faith, and that his intention is to cultivate the soil and become an actual settler. The sixth section of the bill provides that any person who is now an inhabitant of the United States, but not a citizen, if he makes application, and in the course of five years becomes a citizen of the United States, shall be placed on a footing of equality with the native-born citizens of the country in this respect. The third section provides that those entries shall be confined to land that has been in market, and subjected to private entry; and that the persons entering the land shall be confined to each alternate section.

These are substantially the leading provisions of this bill. It does not proceed upon the idea, as some suppose, of making a donation or gift of the public land to the settler. It proceeds upon the principle of consideration; and I conceive, and I think many others do, that the individual who emigrates to the West, and reclaims and reduces to cultivation one hundred and sixty acres of the public domain, subjecting himself to all the privations and hardships of such a life, pays the highest consideration for his land.

But, before I say more on this portion of the

subject, I desire to premise a little by giving the history of this homestead proposition. Some persons from my own region of the country, or, in other words, from the South, have thrown out the intimation that this is a proposition which partakes, to some extent, of the nature of the Emigrant Aid Society, and is to operate injuriously to the Southern States. For the purpose of making the startingpoint right, I want to go back and show when this proposition was first introduced into the Congress of the United States. I am not sure but that the Presiding Officer1 remembers well the history of this measure.

In 1846, on the 27th day of March, long before we had any emigrant aid societies, long before we had the compromises of 1850 in reference to the slavery question, long before we had any agitation on the subject of slavery in 1854, long before we had any agitation upon it in 1858, this proposition made its advent into the House of Representatives. It met with considerable opposition. It scarcely received serious consideration for a length of time; but the measure was pressed until the public mind took hold of it; and it was still pressed until the 12th day of May, 1852, when it passed that body by a two-thirds vote. Thus we see that its origin and its consummation, so far as the House of Representatives was concerned, had nothing to do with North or South, but proceeded upon that

1 Mr. Foot of Vermont in the chair.

great principle which interests every man in this country, and which, in the end, secures and provides for him a home. By putting these dates together, it will be perceived that it was just six years five months and fifteen days from the introduction of this bill until its passage by the House of Representatives.

I shall not detain the Senate by any lengthy remarks on the general principles of the bill; for I do not intend to be prolix, or to consume much of the Senate's time. What is the origin of the great idea of a homestead of land? We find, on turning to the first law-writer, and I think one of the best, for we are informed that he wrote by inspiration, that he advances the first idea on this subject. Moses made use of the following language:

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"The land shall not be sold forever; for the land is mine for ye are strangers and sojourners with me."- Leviticus, chapter xxv. verse 23.

We begin, then, with Moses. The next writer to whom I will call the attention of the Senate is Vattel- one of the ablest, if not the ablest writer upon the laws of nations. He lays down this great principle: 1

"Of all the arts, tillage or agriculture is the most useful and necessary. It is the nursing-father of the State. The cultivation of the earth causes it to produce an infinite increase; it forms the surest resource, and the most solid fund of rich commerce for the people who enjoy a happy climate.

“This affair, then, deserves the utmost attention from gov

1 Vattel, Book I. ch. 7.

ernment. The sovereign ought to neglect no means of rendering the land under his obedience as well cultivated as possible. He ought not to allow either communities or private persons to acquire large tracts of land to leave uncultivated. These rights of common, which deprive the proprietor of the free liberty of disposing of his lands, that will not allow him to farm them, and cause them to be cultivated in the most advantageous manner, these rights, I say, are contrary to the welfare of the state, and ought to be suppressed or reduced to a just bound. The property introduced among the citizens does not prevent the nation's having a right to take the most effectual measures to cause the whole country to produce the greatest and most advantageous revenue possible.

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"The government ought carefully to avoid everything capable of discouraging husbandmen, or of diverting them from the labors of agriculture. Those taxes, those excessive and ill-proportioned impositions, the burden of which falls almost entirely upon the cultivators, and the vexations they suffer from the commissioners who levy them, take from the unhappy peasant the means of cultivating the earth, and depopulate the country. Spain is the most fertile, and the worst cultivated country in Europe. The Church possesses too much land, and the undertakers of royal magazines, who are authorized to purchase at low prices all the corn they find in possession of a peasant, above what is necessary for the subsistence of his wife and family, so greatly discourage the husbandman, that he sows no more corn than is necessary for the support of his own household. Whence arises the greatest scarcity in a country capable of feeding its neighbors.

"Another abuse injurious to agriculture is, the contempt cast upon husbandmen. The inhabitants of cities, even the most servile artist and the most lazy citizen, consider him who cultivates the soil with a disdainful eye; they humble and discourage him; they dare to despise a profession that feeds the human race the natural employment of man. A stay-maker places far beneath him the beloved employment of the first consuls and dictators of Rome.

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