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“ We want to have the timber brought to us as cheaply as possible. Now, if you
the lands in this way, so that no title can be obtained to them for no settler will go on these lands, for he cannot make a living — you deprive us of the benefits of that timber."
Now, sir, I would not have it by any means inferred from this that the gentleman from Minnesota would insinuate that the people out in this section desire this timber merely for the purpose of fencing up their farms so that their stock may, not wander off and die of starvation among the bleak hills of St. Croix. I read it for no such purpose, sir, and make no comment on it myself. In corroboration of this statement of the gentleman from Minnesota, I find this testimony given by the honorable gentleman from Wisconsin [Mr. Washburn). Speaking of these same lands, he says:
“ Under the bill, as amended by my friend from Minnesota, nine tenths of the land is open to actual settlers at $2.50 per acre; the remaining one tenth is pine-timbered land, that is not fit for settlement, and never will be settled upon; but the timber will be cut off. I admit that it is the most valuable portion of the grant, for most of the grant is not valuable. It is quite valueless; and if you put in this amendment of the gentleman from Indiana you may just as well kill the bill, for no man, and no company will take the grant and build the road."
I simply pause here to ask some gentleman better versed in the science of mathematics than I am, to tell me if the timbered lands are in fact the most valuable portion of that section of the country, and they would be entirely valueless without the timber that is on them, what the remainder of the land is worth which has no timber on them at all?
But, further on, I find a most entertaining and instructive interchange of views between the gentleman from Arkansas
[Mr. Rogers], the gentleman from Wisconsin [Mr. Wastburn), and the gentleman from Maine [Mr. Peters], upon the subject of pine lands generally, which I will tax the patience of the House to read:
“ Mr. Rogers Will the gentleman allow me to ask him a question ?"
* Mr. Washburn - Certainly.”
“Mr. Rogers — Are these pine lands entirely worthless except for timber?”
“Mr. Washburn — They are generally worthless for any other purpose. I am personally familiar with that subject. These lands are not valuable for purposes of settlement."
“Mr. Farnsworth - They will be after the timber is taken off.” “ Mr. Washburn
No, sir." “Mr. Rogers -- I want to know the character of these pine lands.”
Mr. Washburn They are generally sandy, barren lands. My friend from the Green Bay district [Mr. Sawyer] is himself perfectly familiar with this question, and he will bear me out in what I say, that these timber lands are not adapted to settlement.”
“Mr. Rogers - The pine lands to which I am accustomed are generally very good. What I want to know is, what is the difference between our pine lands and your pine lands ? ”
"Mr. Washburn The pine timber of Wisconsin generally grows upon barren, sandy land. The gentleman from Maine [Mr. Peters] who is familiar with pine lands, will, I have no doubt, say that pine timber grows generally upon the most barren lands."
“Mr. Peters — As a general thing pine lands are not worth much for cultivation."
And further on I find this pregnant question, the joint production of the two gentlemen from Wisconsin.
Mr. Paine – Does my friend from Indiana suppose that in any event settlers will occupy and cultivate these pine lands?”
"Mr. Washburn -- Particularly without a railroad. Yes, sir, particularly without a railroad."
It will be asked after awhile, I am afraid, if settlers will go anywhere unless the government builds a railroad for them to go on.
I desire to call attention to only one more statement, which I think sufficient to settle the question. It is one made by the gentleman from Wisconsin [Mr. Paine] who says:
“ These lands will be abandoned for the present. It may be that at some remote period there will spring up in that region a new kind of agriculture, which will cause a demand for these particular lands; and they may then come into use and be valuable for agricultural purposes. But I know, and I cannot help thinking, that my friend from Indiana understands that, for the present, and for many years to come, these pine lands can have no possible value other than that arising from the pine timber which stands on them.”
Now, sir, after listening to this emphatic and unequivocal testimony of these intelligent, competent, and able-bodied witnesses, who that is not as incredulous as St. Thomas himself will doubt for a moment that the Goshen of America is to be found in the sandy valleys and upon the pine-clad hills of the St. Croix? Who will have the hardihood to rise in his seat on this floor and assert that, excepting the pine bushes, the entire region would not produce vegetation enough in ten years to fatten a grasshopper? Where is the patriot who is willing that his country shall incur the peril of remaining another day without the amplest railroad connection with such an inexhaustible mine of agricultural wealth? Who will answer for the consequences of abandoning a great and warlike people, in the possession of a country like that, to brood over the indifference and neglect of their
government? How long would it be before they would take to studying the Declaration of Independence, and hatching out the damnable heresy of secession? How long before the grim demon of civil discord would rear again his horrid head in our midst, “ gnash loud his iron fangs and shake his crest of bristling bayonets ? ”
Then, sir, think of the long and painful process of reconstruction that must follow, with its concomitant amendments to the constitution, the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth articles. The sixteenth, it is of course understood, is to be appropriated to those blushing damsels who are, day after day, beseeching us to let them vote, hold office, drink cocktails, ride astraddle, and do everything else the men do. But, above all, sir, let me implore you to reflect for a single moment on the deplorable condition of our country in case of a foreign war, with all our ports blockaded, all our cities in a state of siege, the gaunt spectre of famine brooding like a hungry vulture over our starving land; our commissary stores all exhausted, and our famishing armies withering away in the field, a helpless prey to the insatiate demon of hunger; our navy rotting in the docks for want of provisions for our gallant seamen, and we without any railroad communication whatever with the prolific pine thickets of the St. Croix.
Ah, sir, I could very well understand why my amiable friends from Pennsylvania [Mr. Myers, Mr. Kelley, and Mr. O'Neill] should be so earnest in their support of this bill the other day; and, if their honorable colleague, my friend, Mr. Randall, will pardon the remark, I will say that I consider his criticism of their action on that occasion as not only unjust, but
ungenerous. I knew they were looking forward with the far-reaching ken of enlightened statesmanship to the
pitiable condition in which Philadelphia will be left unless speedily supplied with railroad connection in some way or other with this garden spot of the universe.
And besides, sir, this discussion has relieved my mind of a mystery that has weighed upon it like an incubus for years. I could never understand before why there was so much excitement during the last Congress over the acquisition of Alta Vela. I could never understand why it was that some of our ablest statesmen and most disinterested patriots should entertain such dark forebodings of the untold calamities that were to befall our beloved country unless we should take immediate possession of that desirable island. But I see now that they were laboring under the mistaken impression that the government would need the guano to månure the public lands on the St. Croix.
Now, sir, I repeat, I have been satisfied for years that, if there was any portion of the inhabited globe absolutely in a suffering condition for want of a railroad it was these teeming pine barrens of the St. Croix. At what particular point on that noble stream such a road should be commenced I knew was immaterial, and it seems so to have been considered by the draughtsman of this bill.
It might be up at the spring or down at the foot-log, or the water-gate, or the fish-dam, or anywhere along the bank, no matter where. But, in what direction should it run, or where it should terminate, were always to my mind questions of the most painful perplexity. I could conceive of no place on “God's green earth” in such straitened circumstances for railroad facilities as to be likely to desire or willing to accept such a connection.
I knew that neither Bayfield nor Superior City would have it, for they both indignantly spurned the munificence of the