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has been no step-mother to the new States. She has not been careless of their interests, nor deaf to their requests; but from the first moment when the territories which now form those States were ceded to the Union, down to the time in which I am now speaking, it has been the invariable object of the government, to dispose of the soil according to the true spirit of the obligation under which it received it; to hasten its settlement and cultivation, as far and as fast as practicable; and to rear the new communities into new and independent States, at the earliest moment of their being able, by their numbers, to form a regular government.
I do not admit, Sir, that the analogy to which the gentleman refers us is just, or that the cases are at all similar. There is no resemblance between the cases, upon which a statesman can found an argument. The original North American colonists either fled from Europe, like our New England ancestors, to avoid persecution, or came hither at their own charges, and often at the ruin of their fortunes, as private adventurers. Generally speaking, they derived neither succor nor protection from their governments at home. Wide, indeed, is the difference between those cases and ours. From the very origin of the government, these Western lands, and the just protection of those who had settled or should settle on them, have been the leading objects in our policy, and have led to expenditures, both of blood and treas. ure, not inconsiderable; not, indeed, exceeding the importance of the object, and not yielded grudgingly; but yet entitled to be regarded as great, though necessary sacrifices, made for high, proper ends. The Indian title has been extinguished at the expense of many millions. Is that nothing ? There is still a much more material consideration. These colonists, if we are to call them so, in passing the Alleghanies, did not pass beyond the care and protection of their own government. Whereever they went, the public arm was still stretched over them. A parental government at home was still ever mindful of their condition and their wants, and nothing was spared which a just sense of their necessities required. Is it forgotten that it was one of the most arduous duties of the government, in its earliest years, to defend the frontiers against the Northwestern Indians? Are the sufferings and misfortunes under Harmar and St. Clair not worthy to be remembered? Do the occurrences
connected with these military efforts show an unfeeling neglect of Western interests? And here, Sir, what becomes of the gentleman's analogy? What English armies accompanied our ancestors to clear the forests of a barbarous foe? What treasures of the exchequer were expended in buying up the original title to the soil? What governmental arm held its ægis over our fathers' heads, as they pioneered their way in the wilderness? Sir, it was not till General Wayne's victory, in 1794, that it could be said we had conquered the savages. It was not till that period that the government could have considered itself as having established an entire ability to protect those who should undertake the conquest of the wilderness.
And here, Sir, at the epoch of 1794, let us pause and survey the scene, as it actually existed thirty-five years ago. Let us look back and behold it. Over all that is now Ohio there then stretched one vast wilderness, unbroken except by two small spots of civilized culture, the one at Marietta and the other at Cincinnati. At these little openings, hardly each a pin's point upon the map, the arm of the frontier-man had levelled the forest and let in the sun. These little patches of earth, themselves almost overshadowed by the overhanging boughs of that wilderness which had stood and perpetuated itself, from century to century, ever since the creation, were all that had then been rendered verdant by the hand of man. In an extent of hundreds and thousands of square miles, no other surface of smiling green attested the presence of civilization. The hunter's path crossed mighty rivers, flowing in solitary grandeur, whose sources lay in remote and unknown regions of the wilderness. It struck upon the north on a vast inland sea, over which the wintry tempests raged as on the ocean; all around was bare creation. It was fresh, untouched, unbounded, magnificent wilderness.
And, Sir, what is it now? Is it imagination only, or can it possibly be fact, that presents such a change as surprises and astonishes us when we turn our eyes to what Ohio now is? Is it reality, or a dream, that, in so short a period even as thirty-five years, there has sprung up, on the same surface, an independent State with a million of people? A million of inhabitants ! an amount of population greater than that of all the cantons of Switzerland; equal to one third of all the people of the United States when they undertook to accomplish their independence.
This new member of the republic has already left far behind her a majority of the old States. She is now by the side of Virginia and Pennsylvania; and in point of numbers will shortly admit no equal but New York herself. If, Sir, we may judge of measures by their results, what lessons do these facts read us upon the policy of the government? What inferences do they authorize upon the general question of kindness or unkindness? What convictions do they enforce as to the wisdom and ability, on the one hand, or the folly and incapacity, on the other, of our general administration of Western affairs? Sir, does it not require some portion of self-respect in us to imagine, that, if our light had shone on the path of government, if our wisdom could have been consulted in its measures, a more rapid advance to strength and prosperity would have been experienced ? , For my own part, while I am struck with wonder at the success, I also look with admiration at the wisdom and foresight which originally arranged and prescribed the system for the settlement of the public domain. Its operation has been, without a moment's interruption, to push the settlement of the Western country to the extent of our utmost means.
But, Sir, to return to the remarks of the honorable member from South Carolina. He says that Congress has sold these lands and put the money into the treasury, while other governments, acting in a more liberal spirit, gave away their lands; and that we ought also to have given ours away. I shall not stop to state an account between our revenues derived from land, and our expenditures in Indian treaties and Indian wars. But I must refer the honorable gentleman to the origin of our own title to the soil of these territories, and remind him that we received them on conditions and under trusts which would have been violated by giving the soil away. For compliance with those conditions, and the just execution of those trusts, the public faith was solemnly pledged. The public lands of the United States have been derived from four principal sources. First, cessions made to the United States by individual States, on the recommendation or request of the old Congress; secondly, the compact with Georgia, in 1802; thirdly, the purchase of Louisiana, in 1803; fourthly, the purchase of Florida, in 1819. Of the first class, the most important was the cession by Virginia of all her right and title, as well of soil as jurisdiction, to all VOL. III.
the territory within the limits of her charter lying to the northwest of the Ohio River. It may not be ill-timed to recur to the causes and occasions of this and the other similar
grants. When the war of the Revolution broke out, a great difference existed in different States in the proportion between people and territory. The Northern and Eastern States, with very small surfaces, contained comparatively a thick population, and there was generally within their limits no great quantity of waste lands belonging to the government, or the crown of England. On the contrary, there were in the Southern States, in Virginia and in Georgia, for example, extensive public domains, wholly unsettled, and belonging to the crown. As these possessions would necessarily fall from the crown in the event of a prosperous issue of the war, it was insisted that they ought to devolve on the United States, for the good of the whole. The
The war, it was argued, was undertaken and carried on at the common expense of all the colonies; its benefits, if successful, ought also to be common; and the property of the common enemy, when vanquished, ought to be regarded as the general acquisition of all. While yet the war was raging, it was contended that Congress ought to have the power to dispose of vacant and unpatented lands, commonly called crown lands, for defraying the expenses of the war, and for other public and general purposes. “ Reason and justice,” said the Assembly of New Jersey, in 1778, “must decide that the property which existed in the crown of Great Britain previous to the present Revolution ought now to belong to the Congress, in trust for the use and benefit of the United States. They have fought and bled for it, in proportion to their respective abilities, and therefore the reward ought not to be predilectionally distributed. Shall such States as are shut out by situation from availing themselves of the least advantage from this quarter be left to sink under an enormous debt, whilst others are enabled in a short period to replace all their expenditures from the hard earnings of the whole confederacy?”
Moved by considerations and appeals of this kind, Congress took up the subject, and in September, 1780, recommended to the several States in the Union having claims to Western territory, to make liberal cessions of a portion thereof to the United States; and on the 10th of October, 1780, Congress resolved,
that any lands so ceded, in pursuance of their preceding recommendation, should be disposed of for the common benefit of the United States; should be settled and formed into distinct republican States, to become members of the Federal Union, with the same rights of sovereignty, freedom, and independence as the other States; and that the lands should be granted, or settled, at such times, and under such regulations, as should be agreed on by Congress. Again, in September, 1783, Congress passed another resolution, setting forth the conditions on which cessions from States should be received; and in October following, Virginia made her cession, reciting the resolution, or act, of September preceding, and then transferring to the United States her title to her Northwestern territory, upon the express condition that the lands so ceded should be considered as a common fund for the use and benefit of such of the United States as had become or should become members of the confederation, Virginia inclusive, and should be faithfully and bona fide disposed of for that purpose, and for no other use or purpose whatever. The grants from other States were on similar conditions. Massachusetts and Connecticut both had claims to Western lands, and both relinquished them to the United States in the same manner. These grants were all made on three substantial conditions or trusts. First, that the ceded territories should be formed into States, and admitted in due time into the Union, with all the rights belonging to other States; secondly, that the lands should form a common fund, to be disposed of for the general benefit of all the States; and thirdly, that they should be sold and settled, at such time and in such manner as Congress should direct.
Now, Sir, it is plain that Congress never has been, and is not now, at liberty to disregard these solemn conditions. For the fulfilment of all these trusts, the public faith was, and is, fully pledged. How, then, would it have been possible for Congress, if it had been so disposed, to give away these public lands? How could it have followed the example of other governments, if there had been such, and considered the conquest of the wilderness an equivalent compensation for the soil ? The States had looked to this territory, perhaps too sanguinely, as a fund out of which means were to come to defray the expenses of the war.
It had been received as a fund, as a fund Congress