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those now constituting the galaxy of the American Union.

The Homestead Bill-Mr. Dodge, of Iowa.

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wise to screw it up to the utmost, or even to suffer bidders Mr. President, the homestead bill, so called, to enhance, according to their eagerness, the purchase of objects wherein the expense of that purchase may weaken comes to us with a strong indorsement from the the capital to be employed in their cultivation. The prinpeople's Representatives. It passed the House, cipal revenue which I propose to draw from these uncultiafter having been before that body for nearly vated wastes, is to spring from the improvement and popuseven years, during which time it was considered lation of the kingdom; events infinitely more advantageous to the revenues of the Crown than the rents of the best and discussed in nearly all its aspects and bearlanded estate which it can hold." ings. It is emphatically a measure of progress, would dispose of the unprofitable landed estates of the "It is thus I and one which I think, if enacted into a law, is Crown: throw them into the mass of private property; by destined to produce benefits to our whole country. which they will come, through the course of circulation, and through the political secretions of the State, into well In examining the objections which have been regulated revenue." urged against this measure, I am astonished to "Thus would fall an expensive agency, with all the influence which attends it." perceive that they are but a repetition of those England's great statesman. But I have higher authority than even that of which were made against every preemption and graduation bill that has ever been brought before all, not to glean either the "sheaf," the " in that book which should be the rule of life for We are commanded Congress since the commencement of our land system; and yet, at this day, so great has been the "olive," or the "corners of the land. grape,' the triumph of correct principles, that few, if any, soil of a country is the gift of the Creator to his can be found who will raise their voices against that gift should not become the object of speculacreatures, and in a government of the people, preemption or graduation. Try this measure in its practical workings for but a few years, and tion and monopoly. I am strongly of the belief like results, I venture to predict, will be produced. the Government and the people. All other Govthat these donations will work great good both to This homestead bill is but a just tribute to agricultare-that first, noblest, and God-favored calling United States is the only one, I believe, for which ernments have made them. The domain of the of man. It is the only measure at all likely to come before Congress for the benefit of those who pay was ever demanded in gold and silver, before till the earth for a support; and this consideration, the conduct of other Governments, and even that it could be settled and cultivated. Different was of itself, is sufficient to commend it to my support. It will not only be an evidence of the favor with of the States owning land: Kentucky, Tennessee, which Congress views the cultivation of the soil, of Georgia-if my information be correct-were and one third of Ohio, and a considerable portion but it will tend greatly to increase the number of settled by free grants of land. Upper and Lower those engaged in that pursuit, thus augmenting Louisiana, and the two Floridas, as I have before the productions of our country, and the comfort, remarked, were settled by gratuitous donations independence, and happiness of our people. Some from the Kings of Spain. Since those countries think that it will destroy the receipt of all revenues from the public domain. In this opinion I have become ours, the early settlers, to whom these do not concur. Indeed, I may say, I fear they noyed by having their titles contested by the Unigrants were made, have been harassed and anare mistaken; for I have long been of the opinion ted States officers in the courts, and in every other that the best interest of the Republic demand an abolition of the auction or private sales of the policy of the conterminous and other Governconceivable manner. Very different has been the public domain, and that it should be conveyed only to those who design to settle upon and imments on this continent. Are not the British prove it. The gigantic and ruinous speculations lands in Canada given at this day to all who will in the public lands in 1835-236, to which I have become and take them? In 1825, the British Parliafore alluded, can never be forgotten in the history ment, with a view to the strengthening of a remote of this country. It was in the year last named $135,000) to pay the expenses of emigrants moving province, appropriated £30,000 sterling (nearly that the late distinguished Secretary of the Treasury, R. J. Walker-then a Senator from Missisto Canada. Look at what Mexico and Texas sippi-brought forward a bill in this body to put quantities to any one who would go and take it have done. They have given land in immense an end to all speculation in the public domain, within their limits. It is a well-known historical and to restrict its sale to actual settlers and culti-fact, that a large number of our citizens abandoned vators. It was the measure of a statesman, and, this, the land of their nativity, and the freest if it had been adopted, would, I humbly conceive, have wrought great benefits to our whole the time that Austin went to Texas, and accepted Government on earth, many years since, about country. the landed bounty of foreign, and at that time despotic Governments-their own offering none.

The fact, so often mentioned, that a poor man can now buy one hundred and sixty acres of land for $200, is, according to the conceptions of my mind, no objection to this bill. There are many thousands of families in this country-good and deserving people-who never saw the day, and never will see it, when they will have that sum, or the half, or the fourth of it, ready to pay down for a quarter section, an eighty acre, or a forty acre tract. I further give it as my earnest belief, that no one hundred and sixty acres, in a state of nature, on the extreme verge of civilization, is worth $200 to him who buys for no other purpose than settlement and improvement. I think the policy of holding on to the public domain, with a view to extorting the last dollar from the cultivator, unwise and impolitic. I can quote eminent authority to show that it is so. Hear the great Edmund Burke, who said, in the British Parlia



"A landed estate is certainly the very worst which the Crown can possess." * "All minute and dispersed possessions-possessions that are often of indeterminate value, and which require a continued personal at tendance-are of a nature more proper for private managemeat than for public administration. They are fitter for the care of a frugal land steward than of an office in the State." * "If it be objected that these lands, at present, will sell at a low market, this is answered by showing that money is at a high price. The one balances the other. Lands sell at the current rate, and nothing ean sell for more. But be the price what it may, a great object is always answered, whenever any property is transferred from hands which are not fit for that property to those that are. The buyer and the seller must mutually profit by such a bargain; and, what rarely happens in matters of revenue, the relief of the subject will go hand in hand with the profit of the Exchequer." ** from the sale of the forest lands will not be considerable "The revenue to be derived as many have imagined; and I conceive it would be un

In the West Indies, and all over South America,
the same liberal system of disposing of the public
Republic of Colombia, dated June, 1823:
domain has prevailed. I read from a decree of the

"The Senate and House of Representatives of the Re-
public of Colombia, united in Congress, considering: 1st.
That a population, numerous and proportionate to the terri-
tory of a State is the basis of its prosperity and true great-
ness; 2nd. That the fertility of the soil, the salubrity of
the climate, the extensive unappropriated lands, and the
free institutions of the Republic, permit and require a nu-
merous emigration of useful and laboring strangers, who, by
improving their own fortunes, may augment the revenues
of the nation, have decreed:

"That foreigners emigrating to Colombia shall receive gratuitous donations of land, in parcels of two hundred fanegas (about four hundred acres) to each family. That it may be chosen in the middle or the mountainous districts, in the regions favorable to the production of sugar, coffee, cocoa, indigo, rice, cotton, wheat, barley, rye, and all the varieties of fruits, both of tropical and high latitudes. That five years' cultivation shall entitle a foreigner to naturalization. That $1,000,000 be appropriated in aid of agriculture, to be distributed in loans to industrious farmers."

Such was the conduct of the free Republics of South America. All of them did the same;-but it is unnecessary to cite their numerous laws to that effect. Throughout the New World, from Hudson's Bay to Cape Horn, (with the single exception of these United States,) land, the gift of God to man, is also the gift of the Government to those who will improve it. This wise policy has not been circumscribed to the New World-it has even prevailed in Asia.

The King of Persia published, in the London newspapers in 1823, a proclamation, from which I read:

"Mirza Mahomed Saul, Embassador to England, in the

[Feb. 24, SENATE.

name, and by the authority of Abbys Mirza, King of Per-
by the authe
sia, offers to those who shall emigrate to Persia, gratuitous
grants of land, good for the production of wheat, barley,
rice, cotton, and fruits, free from taxes or contributions of
any kind, and with the free enjoyment of their religion, the
King's object being to improve his country."

The object here stated by the Persian King, to improve his country, is one worthy to be observed and imitated. Shall this Government, the creature of the people, and made for their benefit, be less wise in its policy, and less generous to its citizens than the despotisms of the Old World, or the Repubsold, in that country which was the peculiar care lics of the New? I trust not! Land was given, not thereof." The promised land was a gift to the of God. "God gave the earth to the inhabitants children of Israel; one dollar and twenty-five cents the acre was not demanded for it; nor the for the one hundred and sixty acres, and his home possessed not the two hundred dollars to pay down actual cultivator expelled from his home, if he sold, under the hammer, to the highest bidder;, land was then the gift of God to man, and to permitted to inherit and partake of the bounty of woman also; for the daughters of Manasseh were the Giver of all good.

the Commissioner of the General Land Office re-
Mr. President, to show the evils of the present
land system, I call your attention to a letter from
specting the State of Missouri. From this letter it
is seen that that State contains a superficial area of
188,901 acres absorbed by Spanish and French
about 65,037 square miles, or 41,623,680 acres; of
this quantity 17,125,174 acres have been sold, and
grants, leaving 24,309,605 acres unsold upon the
sioner's statement now before me.
30th day of June last, according to the Commis-

of the public lands, the first sales in Missouri took
place in 1818. Thus, if it has taken thirty-four
Under the present wretched system of disposing
years for the Federal Government to sell 17,125,-
174 acres, by the same ratio, estimating by the
rule of proportion, it will take forty-eight years
The 24,309,635 acres, divided by 160, the quantity
to dispose of the remaining lands in that State.
given to each settler under this bill, would add to
and tax-paying inhabitants.
the population of the State 151,935 land-owning

sioner of the General Land Office:
In Michigan the state of things is even worse,
as is seen from the following letter of the Commis-

GENERAL LAND OFFICE, February 25, 1853. SIR: In reply to your inquiries of this date, I have the honor to inform you that the first public sale of lands in Michigan was made in the year 1818. From that date to the 30th June last, a period of thirty-four years, there was sold and located by land warrants 9,858,670 acres. On the 30th June last there remained undisposed of the quantity of 19,679,811 acres. Estimating the future by the past, it will require, to dispose of this remaining land, a period of about sixty-eight years.

With great respect, your obedient servant,
Hon. A. C. DODGE, U. S. Senate.
JOHN WILSON, Commissioner.

These are but fair samples of the injury inflicted upon the West by the present system. Is there any Senator so dead to the interests of Missouri and Michigan as to wish to prolong this state of things?

To show how much the advantages of this bill are overrated, I call attention to the fact, that a few years since we passed a law granting to settlers in Oregon, free of cost, and on condition of settlement and five years' occupancy, much larger quantities of land than are proposed to be given by this bill; and yet you find the people, owing to the gold in California, asking a repeal of the restricabundance of money, caused by the discovery of tion, and that they be permitted to pay for their lands. option of purchase or conditional gift. I only reSuch a law has been passed during the present session, and those settlers now have their fer to this circumstance to show that the conditions least of them who are so fortunate as to accumu imposed by the homestead bill are rigorous, and late the means necessary to pay for their claims are so regarded by its beneficiaries-those at before the expiration of the five years.

The constitutional power to pass the homestead bill I regard as clearly conferred. Its language is: "Congress shall have power to dispose of, and make all needful rules and regulations respecting, the territory of other property belonging to the United States,"

What more needful rule and regulation could be established than settlement and cultivation? And

32D CONG.....2D SESS.

considering the sources whence our governmental revenues are raised, what more beneficial one could be devised?

Acting under this power, Congress has recently made donations to an enormous amount to the soldiers of the Mexican war; to those of the war of 1812, the war of the Revolution, Bonaparte's exiled marshals and soldiers, to General Lafayette -to say nothing of the sixteenth and alternatesection grants to States and companies.

Of a population of over twenty-three millions of inhabitants in the United States, thire head of the Census Bureau, in reply to a request of mine, has furnished me with an esimate approximating accuracy of the number of real-estate owners in the United States, which he fixes at two millions three hundred and thirty-two thousand nine hundred and nineteen; and this, I presume, is about the number.

Mr. President, there never was a measure so abused, so misrepresented, so vilified, as has been the homestead bill. In the first place, a large portion of the country has been made erroneously to believe that its grants are made to foreigners, and we of the new States have been told that its enactment would bring hordes of foreign paupers upon us. Like every measure of progress and reform, it is fought with all sorts of rawhead and bloody-bones argument which can be invented. Is there any public man who has the courage to dare to propose a repeal of the naturalization laws of this country? I opine not. I take it that Native Americanism is so dead that it will never kick again. Then, if that be true, and these foreigners come to us in the numbers in which they do, I ask you, in the name of God, what will you do with them? Will you keep them in your cities?— will you keep them where they are denied the opportunity of cultivating the soil of the country?or will you hold out to them a generous inducement, such as the homestead bill does, and such as all Governments on this continent have held out? The British on the north, and the Mexican and South American Republics on the south, have invited and attracted foreigners. Will you not rather choose to elevate their condition by inviting them to the magnificent and fertile plains of the West, upon which they can settle, and their daughters and sons grow up and be useful and respectable? It is within the range of human probability that under the spirit and genius of our institutions and the glorious provisions of our Constitution, some of the descendants of these muchabused and hated foreigners may attain even the Presidency of these United States. In your legislation touching the public lands, you seem to have forgotten that population as well as soil is necessary.

You forget the lesson taught by a Greek, and elegantly paraphrased by a British, poet:

"What constitutes a State?

Not high-raised battlement nor labored mound— Thick wall nor moated gate;

Nor cities fair, with spires and turrets crowned; Not bays and broad-armed ports,

Where, laughing at the storm, rich navies ride! Not starred and spangled courts,

Where low-bowed baseness wafts perfume to pride. No! men! high-minded men!

Men who their duties know,

But know their rights, and knowing dare maintain,
Prevent the long-aimed blow,
And crush the tyrant when they burst the chain.-
These constitute a State,"


The Homestead Bill-Mr. Charlton.

main guard; and I do this the more readily, as, doubtless, we shall have the homestead bill before us at the close of the session, when it will be too late to debate it.

I cannot yield my assent to the principles involved in this bill. I do not think that sound policy, true political economy, or the great interests of our country are at all protected or preserved by it. Not questioning for a moment the motives of those who advocate it, I consider that its passage is well calculated to demoralize the very class whose benefit seems to be its main object. I believe that it will lend a helping hand to idleness, profligacy, and vice, and that it will throw a temptation in the way of honest, industry, which may turn its feet aside from the path of usefulness and success in order that it may obtain a gift that will be worthless when it is procured. If I am right in these opinions, it is the duty of us all to defeat the measure before us. If I am wrong

in my conclusions, I have the satisfaction of knowing that nothing that I can say can pervert the judgment of the older and better" legislators around me.

I propose to state, very briefly, the reasons for my convictions; and my first objection to it is, that whilst it seems to be founded upon the agrarian principle, that each man shall share equally in the public lands, and that this Government is but the trustee for its citizens, yet it does not carry out the very idea that is its basis; it is unequal in its operation; it gives the public domain only to those who have no land at all at the time of such application, and who will swear that they have not disposed of any land to obtain the benefits of this act. Why these provisions? Why exclude the honest laborer, who, by the sweat of his brow, had purchased his farm and erected his homestead? Why, in the division of the spoil amongst the cestui que trusts, thrust aside the successful tiller of the ground-the experienced cultivator? Why give the common property only to him who, by his idleness had never obtained his tract of land, or by his extravagance, or folly, or inexperience had wasted it? Is this to encourage agriculture and other branches of industry, which the title of this act declares to be its object?-or is it not to waste the country's treasures upon those who had hitherto been too idle to acquire property, or too unskillful to make it useful? It seems to me that the proper course, if any such distribution must take place, (which I exceedingly deprecate,) would be to give equally to all. The indigent man may have become so without his own crime or folly; but what have these done the successful, the industrious, the honest, that they should be excluded? Why should you put a penalty on thrift, and reward only the man who has had neither the industry nor skill, in this favored land, to shelter his "landless head" from the storm? No successful answer can be given to these questions, unless we are advancing to the opinion that all property in land is a robbery, and that he who has already obtained a portion, though it may be by honest industry, shall have no more,-an opinion which I trust no one here entertains, and no one here will advance.

But it will be said, he that has already an estate in land needs no more; we wish to supply him who has none; we wish the soil to be cultivated; we wish agriculture to be improved; we want to give a start to the poor man, and to throw around him the comforts of a home. We want to convert this barren domain into a beautiful garden

SPEECH OF HON. R. M. CHARLTON, spot, and to change, by the magic power of the


IN THE SENATE, February 24, 2853, Against the principles of the Homestead bill. Mr. CHARLTON said: Mr. President, I had proposed to address the Senate upon what is often called the homestead bill; and as I understand that the amendment now pending before this body has been made to come as near to that as it is practicable, under the existing rules of the Senate; and as I understand that this is to be but the entering wedge, but the beginning of a system which will end in the homestead hill, I will take the liberty of attacking the true system, and not the false one that is apparently presented before us. I think it is a good rule, in civil as well as in military warfare, to attack the vedettes before you come to the

spade, the hoe, and the plow, the noxious weed into the life-sustaining plant. We want to make the desert blossom like the rose, and to make the untrodden path of the prairie the highway for vast multitudes of freemen. All this sounds well; but if it is said that this act is going to accomplish all or any of these things, I am afraid that, like most such romantic and poetic sentiments, there is more beauty of diction than there will be truth in fulfillment. Let us take them up in their order, and hold them up to the candle of reason.

You begin, as I have already said, by excluding the man, whatever his ability, whatever his industry, whatever his honesty and experience, who owns a single acre of land-a single acre will exclude him. No matter how poor he may be, if he has either the misfortune or crime to own a rood


of land, his unhallowed foot shall never tread this sacred soil. His land may be barren, it matters not; his children may be starving, it is of no consequence; he may, by his experience and knowledge of agriculture, be the very person for the cultivation of this rich soil-all this cannot be listened to. He may be a native born, whose father's blood helped to purchase the freedom of our country; he may be a naturalized citizen, who has proved his devotion to our free institutions by daring valor or indomitable energy; still the answer that will meet his ear will be, You have already land; you can have no more. He offers to sell his parental homestead, even which, to advance his childen's interests, he may be willing to abandon; this act still declares he shall not participate in its benefits, while it gives no other reason for the exclusion than the single and unmeaning one that he has land already.

Now, if the true motive of this bill were to cultivate the soil, and to promote agriculture, one would think that these objects would be obtained by allowing this class of men, who had shown their energy and success, to participate in the benefits, and to extend the circle of their usefulness. Certainly some limit might be made, so as not to thrust aside the mere nominal holder of a few feet of soil. But let us proceed. This act is intended, say some of its advocates, for the aid of the poor man-to give him a start, and to throw around him the comforts of a home. But how does this appear? This act includes only those who have no land. There are hundreds of thousands in this Republic who, while they own no soil, have their gold and silver and jewels, their bank stock, their notes of hand, and other personal estate. They are wealthy and prosperous; they may nevertheless come and take their quarter section. How is this act, then, only meant for the poor man? It will be said, that no man of wealth will come; but that is no answer. He may if he will-the law does not exclude him; but the law does exclude the poor man who has no personal property, but a little soil of his own-it matters not how little. Poverty is not the testownership of land is.

But, sir, if this objection were out of the way, it would not change my views. I do not like this bait that is thrown out. I do not like this beginning of a system that seeks to array one class of our country against the other-that suggests to the poor man that he alone is the owner of the soil. I do not like the under current that steals under the apparent tide of sympathy. Let me not be misunderstood, sir. I am not one of those who look upon penury as a crime. In many cases it is the decree of Providence: "The poor ye have with you always," was as well the assertion of a truth as the announcement of a prophecy. So it has ever been, and so will it ever be; and he is but a traitor to the best interests of humanity and his country who does not do what he reasonably can to alleviate the sufferings of those less fortunate than himself; and poverty and suffering are appeals that this Republic of ours has always answered to. Witness its hospitals, its asylums, its charitable institutions. Witness its succor to Greece and to Ireland. Witness its outstretched arms to receive every one upon whose neck the iron heel had pressed.

But there are lawful ways of showing sympathy, and there are unlawful ones-and this system is an instance of the latter. Besides, sir, you encourage poverty by this plan. You reward it, in the first instance, though it may have been the result of vice or sloth; you protect it, you perpetuate it, by making the property you thus bestow, not liable for any debt which may be incurred for five years; and whilst you leave the fruits of the ground subject to legal process, you take away the inducement to produce more than is barely sufficient for sustenance. You encourage recklessness and idleness; you stereotype the indolence and want of foresight which you found in a more imperfect state. Mr. President, I know that poverty is no crime, not always; but I know that idleness is, and ever has been; and I know that poverty which is the result of idleness, is something worse than a misfortune. "He that will not work, neither should he eat," is the language of inspiration. In this free country, where honest effort and brawny arms always meet encouragement and


32D CONG.....2D SESS.


reward, there are few healthy "heads of families" who cannot earn the support of themselves and children; and if they are not healthy, believe me, sir, the great interests of agriculture will not be promoted by giving them in charge to the puny strength of the diseased frame. Human nature is sufficiently prone to inertness. You do not do your duty to your country by encouraging it. Industry has its own reward; stimulate it, do not retard it. Let the young man feel and know that with it the highest honors of his country are within the range of his effort, and let him feel and know that it is his duty to himself and to his country to march forward with untiring energy to the attainment of honor and of usefulness. The walls of this Chamber have often echoed to the eloquent words of those who have worked their way up from honest poverty by their energy and industry, who might quarthis day have been the miserable tillers of a " ter section," if such a bait had been held out to them; if such a miserable cheat had deluded their minds.

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But still, it may be said that this bill, although highly objectionable in many other respects, has a good principle within it, which should silence all cavils. It is intended to encourage agriculturethat great measure so important to the best interests of our country; and not only that, but it is to next in importance to this encourage commerce, our land; the grain, the fruit, the cotton, the tobacco, the whisky, (last not least,) will be borne beneath our country's flag to all parts of the world, through the means of this bill. Nor these alone: manufactures will be improved by it. The skillful artisan will become more skillful by its influence-how, nobody knows. We must take that on trust; but still, in some way, this will be the result, and the benign blessings of this act will be the medium. These are certainly great objects; no one can deny that. But, say the advocates of this measure, none of your faint praise, none of your garbled laudation; look again at the title of the bill; it does not confine itself to the encouragement of agriculture, commerce, and manufactures, but also to "all other branches of industry. That is true; true so far as the title is concerned. Wonderful act! a kind of physical vice versa Pandora's box, that is to let loose upon this regenerated earth such a multitude of blessings! Do not be skeptical, Mr. President. Do not fall back upon the incredulous query of old-How can these things be? Do not talk about the exploded maxims of political economy. Do not ask how the encouragement of agriculture necessarily includes the encouragement of "all other branches of industry.' These things can be done-so they are done by this bill. I beg pardon-by the title of this bill; for there is nothing in the body of it that either declares or promotes any such universal benefit. And how, do you ask? Why by the simplest method in the world. And what is it? The title describes the process, viz: "by granting to every man who is the head of a family a homestead of one hundred and sixty acres of land out of the public domain." This is the short, the sure, the glorious way "to encourage agriculture, commerce, manufactures, and all other branches of industry." It is true, as I have said, the body of the act does not state, much less prove, how these benefits, great and gigantic as they are, will accrue; but then we know that the body of the act is never intended to express the intention of the lawgiver; it is the title, and the title alone, to which you are to refer to ascertain all the objects, and benefits, and "the ways and means" of accomplishing them. When Mathews, the celebrated wag, was here, he told a story of a Yankee, whom, on his first landing, he encountered, and who, with characteristic frankness, informed him that he was about comMathews met piling an American jest-book. with him some two years afterwards, and asked him how he progressed with his great work, and he answered, "Gloriously; it is almost done. I have got the index and the title-page, and only want the body of the work." And Mathews tells this as a joke. A joke indeed! Look at the title of this act; magnificent in its views, overwhelming with its prophecies, and then tell me if the title be not the best, the greatest part of it: whether, when we once have given our high legislative sanction to it, we have not done all that our country can

The Homestead Bill-Mr. Charlton.

require of us; whether the title, glorious as it is -liberal in its promises, beautiful in its hopeswill not be better without the incumbrance of the body that is tacked to it, and whether we had not better strike out all that comes after its enacting clause, leaving that and its title to stand, monumentum perenius are, of human wisdom and human genius?

But now, seriously, let us look this title in the face. Apart from its dogmatical assertion, where is the proof that by passing this act you will encourage agriculture alone, much less all other branches of industry? The idea is, that by making every man a farmer, you improve the condition of your whole country; and by improving the condition of the whole country, you necessarily will improve all branches of industry, as the welfare of the whole embraces the welfare of all its parts. Now, I deny both the premises and the conclusions. I deny that it will improve agriculture; and I deny that by improving agriculture, you must necessarily, or even naturally, improve all other branches of industry.


I suppose I must not say that agriculture is a
science, although in a subordinate sense it is cer-
No one can be a successful tiller of the
tainly so.
ground without a thorough training, and an en-
larged experience. He must know the climate,
the seasons, the nature of the soil, the influence
of the weather, the seed, the plow, and the sickle;
and this knowledge cannot be obtained intuitively,
nor got by becoming the owner of a "quarter
section" gratuitously. In my part of the country
there is a large class of men who earn an ample
livelihood by becoming superintendents of large
planting interests. They devote their whole lives
to acquiring and increasing their knowledge on
this subject. No one is rash enough to believe
that by buying, or owning, or inheriting a tract of
land, he acquires an appendant knowledge of the
But this act proceeds
mode of cultivating it.
upon an assumption that the land and the science
of agriculture go together; that as soon as you
make your
entry" you are equipped "as the
law directs," with all the necessary qualifications
"to encourage agriculture;" and so you are, so
far as the law directs, but not as common sense
directs. By some mental, electrical, governmental
power, the moment "the head of a family" "en-
ters free of cost one quarter section of vacant and
unappropriated public lands," the whole science of
"to encourage
agriculture is flashed into his brain, and he be-
comes a fit and proper person
What though such
agriculture, commerce, manufactures, and all other
branches of industry."
person be an aged widow, with maiden daugh-
ters; a rheumatic man, with neither children,
friends, or money; a blacksmith, who has never
seen a field of corn; a seaman, who could not
tell cotton from tobacco, (I mean in the growth;)
a politician, whose only knowledge of rye is
derived from the whisky distilled from it;-it
is all the same-the whole science, with its con-
comitant blessings and benefits, is conferred upon
him instanter; and the only condition imposed
is, that he must not hire or sell the land to any
other person, who has acquired the science by the
slow and regular way, but he must reside on it
and cultivate it himself, for the "encouragement
of agriculture." Truly, (to speak sarcastically,)
this is a wonderful law; truly, (to speak serious-
ly,) it is a ridiculous one. Test it by another way:
As this law, by the benefits it is said to promote,
encourages all species of industry, suppose we try
the same experiment with one of these branches
of industry; suppose we enact a law with a mag-
nificent title, declaring it to be an act to encourage
the successful and safe working of steam-engines,
"agriculture, manufactures, and all other branches
of industry," by granting to every head of a fam-
ily a forty-horse steam-engine at the public ex-
pense, upon condition of personally working and
managing the same for a certain period. We claim
to be intelligent men here-doubtless most here
are; how long do you think, Mr. President, your
lengine would be in successful operation? How
ong do you think that mine would encourage
manufactures and all other branches of industry?
How would you like to trust yourself on a voyage
with any one of the learned Senators around you?
You can answer that question at your leisure.
For myself, I answer that the encouragement I


should give to all branches of industry by my
engine would be exceedingly brief. The story of
the wise men of Gotham, who went to sea in a
bowl, would be reenacted in its brevity and its
catastrophe-the difference being, that whilst they
went down, myself and crew would go up a dis-
tinction without any very solid difference. And I
think, so far as moral effect is concerned, a similar
fate would await me in
of my


a quarter section;" my doom would be more pro-
tracted and more painful, but just as certain. For
I believe myself, and the rest of mankind who are
professional men, know about as much of the man-
that we are about as fit in the one as in the other
agement of steam-engines as of quarter sections, and
to encourage agriculture, commerce, manufactures,
therefore, that you encourage agriculture by this
bill; but if you do, you certainly do not encour-
and all other branches of industry. I do not think,
age all other branches of industry. It is true, to
a certain degree, that agriculture, when kept with-
in its legitimate limits, has a tendency to improve
the commerce of a nation; whether it improves its
manufactures is a more disputed point. So far is
it from being necessarily so, that we find the agri-
cultural and the manufacturing interests constantly
arrayed against each other in this country,-one
asks for free trade and the other for a protective

But be that as it may, you certainly do not in-
crease or encourage all other branches of industry,
if you lure away from their successful pursuit
the skillful and energetic men who have hitherto
adopted them. Our country needs the practical
and competent mechanic, as well as the agricul-
turist. What will we do, without the shoemaker,
the carpenter, the tailor, the blacksmith, &c.?
Will it improve all these branches of industry to
take away from them those who follow them for a
But it is not
livelihood, and send them to cultivate land? Plenty
of these will remain, you answer.
the policy of this law that they should remain.
All that you could do to get them away, you have
done, not only by your free gift of land, but by
the argument you have addressed to them in the
title of this act, by the assurance you have given
to them, that by turning their attention to this new
field of labor, they will encourage all other branches
of industry. I ask you, therefore, if the policy-
if the bearing of the law is the true one? And the
only way you can answer me is by the assurance
that the law will not have the effect it professes
to have; that though it invites all, it courts all to
come without any exceptions-that although it
holds out brilliant promises of wealth and useful-
ness to all who do come, yet that very few will
come in point of fact, and only those who are
skillful agriculturists. Well, why not give it, then,
to skillful agriculturists? What kind of law is it
that says one thing and means another?

Mr. President, I do not know whether you have noticed it, but as I have no doubt you are a keen observer of human nature, I think you must have noticed, as I have, when walking the principal avenue of our metropolis, a man with a magnificent head upon his shoulders and a very decrepit body. If you have extended your researches as far as I have, you have noticed the reverse of this; you have seen a man with a magnificently-framed body and with a very ricketty head. I do not know how it has struck you, but I have always been irresistibly inclined to take a sharp cimetar and clip both heads off, and put the good head on the good body, so as to make one perfect man of the two, and throw away the balance to be dealt with as the law directs. That, to be sure, would be murder, and I do not suppose that either you or I would be inclined to indulge in such an innocent amusement, considering the consequences which might result, although we might think we had benefited mankind by taking away two decrepit species of humanity, and in their places getting a perfect one. We cannot, however, indulge this propensity, because the law suspends a penalty over us; but without any bloodshed, I think we might do that in reference to the project before us-I mean the homestead bill.

The honorable Senator from Alabama [Mr. ment, which is to come in at the end of the homeCLEMENS] has submitted informally an amendstead bill, which is a proposition for a graduation law. What I want to do is not to cut off this

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magnificent head from this bill, but to put the proposition of the Senator from Alabama, not at the end of it, but just immediately after the title. I would not disturb that title for the world. I do not think that in the next century there will be found any combination of talent that will put, in the six lines composing this title, such an amount of magnificent promises and such a speedy electrical result as follows immediately afterwards. I think it is unique, and ought not to be disturbed. That is the magnificent head. The body I look upon as exceedingly decrepit, and I think if the graduation system of my friend from Alabama could be adopted, it would come in admirably after this head. If the bill were legitimately before us, that would be the amendment which I would propose to make.

This graduation system was commented on and advocated by Mr. Calhoun and other wise legislators and eminent statesmen, and I do not think there can be any reasonable objection to it. I do not think any man can object if he can purchase by his own industry, at a merely nominal sum, the public land of the country. It is the duty and the policy of the Government to dispose of the public land as soon as practicable. If it cannot receive $125 per acre, after the lapse of so many years, it should fall in price so much per cent. and so on, until it gets down to twelve-and-a-half cents per acre. If I were a poor man I would rather own an acre of land by the payment of twelve-and-ahalf cents, and would feel myself more independent and more of a man than I would by taking a quarter section of land from the public for nothing, clogged with the restriction that I could not sell, but that I must live upon it and cultivate it myself. I think the true policy of this Government is to dispose of the public land as soon as it can, at the prices which it can get for it, falling gradually as the lapse of time admonishes us that the lands are not wanted, or are not rich in their character.

I had intended to go into the constitutional argument on the subject, but I do not wish to delay the Senate any longer, particularly as the Senator from Mississippi has paid particular attention to that branch of it, and I will therefore not trespass further upon the Senate at this time.



IN THE SENATE, February 12, 1853, On the bill to regulate the Fees and Costs in the Circuit and District Courts of the United States.

Mr. BRADBURY said: Mr. President, this bill is designed to accomplish an important object, and I hope it will not be defeated, or its efficiency destroyed by amendments. It seeks reform where reform is very much needed; and while I ask the friends of the measure not to allow its defeat by amendments, I will avoid bringing about the same result by too much speaking on my part. A few remarks may be necessary, and I will be as brief as possible. This bill comes to us from the House; and having been confided to my charge by the committee of the Senate to whom it was referred, I have felt it to be my duty to urge its consideration upon the Senate. Beyond this, I have no other solicitude than that which should be common to every Senator.

The bill is designed to regulate the fees and compensation of district attorneys, marshals, clerks, commissioners, jurors, and witnesses in the circuit and district courts of the United States, and to prescribe the costs which shall be taxed and recovered in these courts against the losing party in civil suits. The bill has, then, two objects in view; and a brief reference to the existing state of things, and the flagrant abuses that have grown up under the present system, will demonstrate the necessity of some measure of the kind.

There is now no uniform rule either for compensating the ministerial officers of the courts, or for the regulation of the costs in actions between private suitors. One system prevails in one district, and a totally different one in another; and in some cases it would be difficult to ascertain that any attention had been paid to any law whatever designed to regulate such proceedings. The act of

The Fee Bill-Mr. Bradbury.

February 28, 1799, which is the basis of the present system, contains but a partial and imperfect fee bill. For attorneys, it prescribes the fees in admiralty cases only, with a per diem for attending court, and a small annual salary; and for services not specially provided for, it allows the same compensation to attorneys and marshals as is allowed by the State statutes to attorneys and sheriffs for similar services rendered in the supreme court of the respective States. For clerks, in addition to the per diem of five dollars for attending court, it adopts the same rule, with one third added to the amount. It will hence be seen that the compensation of the officers, and the costs taxed in civil suits, is made to depend in a great degree on that allowed in the State courts. There are no two States where the allowance is the same.

When this system was adopted, it had the semblance of equality, which does not now exist. There were then but sixteen States, in all of which the laws prescribed certain taxable costs to attorneys for the prosecution and defense of suits. In several of the States which have since been added to the Union, no such cost is allowed; and in others the amount is inconsiderable. As the State fee bills are made so far the rule of compensation in the Federal courts, the Senate will perceive that totally different systems of taxation prevail in the different districts. In some, the district attorney receives no compensation beyond his small salary and per diem for a large portion of his most important services; while in others his fees are enormous, and the amount of cost which the losing party is made to pay to the attorney on the other side in civil suits, is so large as to be flagrantly oppressive. It is not only the officers of the courts, but the suitors also, that are affected by the present unequal, extravagant, and often oppressive system.

Take, for example, the case of the district attorneys. In some of the States, where no taxable costs are allowed to attorneys, a large amount of business has been thrown upon the district attorneys, in the settlement of land titles in which the United States were interested, and no compensation whatever can be allowed to these officers for their services in such cases. In other States, where a different system prevails in the State courts, adequate, and even extravagant fees are allowed for the same services. So, too, in criminal cases, great inequality prevails. In Georgia, for instance, the district attorney's fees for attending to a criminal prosecution are five dollars; in Pennsylvania they are six dollars; in New York, charges have been made to the amount of three, four, and five hundred dollars for precisely the same services. In Virginia a still different rule prevai.s, and twenty dollars are usually allowed for an indictment, and from fifty to one hundred dollars for attending to a criminal prosecution, under a discretionary authority given to the court to determine the compensation in the districts in that State.

The abuses that have grown up in the taxation of attorneys' fees which the losing party has been compelled to pay in civil suits, have been a matter of serious complaint. The papers before the committee show that in some cases those costs have been swelled to an amount exceedingly oppressive to suitors, and altogether disproportionate to the magnitude and importance of the causes in which they are taxed, or the labor bestowed. I have a bill before me where, upon a recovery of some $36 damages in a case of no complicated or expensive litigation, the attorney's fees are swelled with motions, orders, briefs, and attendances, &c., to more than $240, and the clerk's and commissioner's fees are nearly $100 more. This was all taxed against the losing party, who was thus compelled to pay for the services of the attorney employed against him. This was in the southern district of New York; and I notice it to illustrate the fault of the system, and not as matter of censure of the court for administering the law under such a system. Jurists of great eminence have made these abuses the subject of complaint, and they urge upon us the importance of providing a remedy. I have another bill of costs before me, allowed in an admiralty case in Florida, some years ago, in which there is taxed against the libelant, who failed to sustain his libel, more than $5,000; of this sum $2,500 is for the counsel fees of the prevailing party! Comment on such proceedings is unnecessary.


I have not the time to allude now to all the abuses that prevail in other respects. I hold in my hand an official report from the First Comptroller's Office, which shows that a clerk in Mississippi charged more than $3,000 for his per diem in attending court in three old bankrupt cases, from February, 1846, to November, 1849; an amount that is greater than the whole average annual expenditures for the United States judiciary in the great State of Georgia. In another district, a clerk charged his per diem for some ninety-two days more than the whole time the court could have been held.

It is to correct the evils and remedy the defects of the present system, that the bill has been prepared and passed by the House of Representatives. It attempts to simplify the taxation of fees, by prescribing a limited number of definite items to be allowed. It is not in all respects such a bill as I would have preferred, but it is believed to be an improvement upon the present system. I think it would be a still greater improvement to substitute for district attorneys fixed salaries, proportionate to their services in the different districts, in place of the fees now received. There would be no difficulty in ascertaining such an amount as would be a fair and adequate compensation in the respective districts, and the advantage to the Government of having officers to look after its interests, not dependent upon the multiplication of processes and suits to secure a fair compensation for their services, must be obvious to every one.

The amendments recommended by the Senate committee are, with one exception, designed to remedy defects in the bill where fees were omitted, or placed too low to be compensatory for the service rendered. Experience will undoubtedly prove the necessity of further amendments. It is believed, however, that the bill will remedy the enormous abuses to which I have referred, that have grown out of the indefinite and unequal system that now prevails. The increased and increasing expenses of the courts of the United States may be accounted for, in some degree, by the growth of these abuses, as well as by the natural increase of business before the courts. These abuses attach to the system, and not generally to the courts. I will refer the Senate on this subject, to a statement furnished by the First Comptroller of the Treasury, in a communication to the Secretary of the Interior, under date of November 21, 1851. Here it is: Statement showing the aggregate amounts of expenses of courts of the United States paid out of the judiciary fund, with the salaries and compensation of the marshals and district attorneys added thereto, for specified periods from 1791 to 1851, and the average amount paid annually; also, the increase per centum of population, and expenses of courts, from the year 1800 to 1851.

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Indicted for perjury, prior to April

Mr. Hall charges as follows:

1849-Retaining fee, $8 00;

term, 1849.

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warrant of attorney, 37% $8 37% $8 37% Motion for trial, $3 00; at

88 37%











29 00

For May and June terms, as above.. July term, ret'g $8 37%; for 3 items above, $9 00-total

2575 61 25

29 25

... 35 00

October term, 1st, 2d, and 3d items, same as

32 00

November term, 1st, 2d, and 3d items, same as

26 00

December term, 1st, 2d, and 3d items, same as

36 25

1850-January term, 1st, 2d, and 3d items, same as

35 00

September term, 1st, 2d, and 3d items, same as

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Mr. Shepherd and Mr. Hall both charged for the April term, 1849-the former $29, and the latter $25 75.

In taxing these bills, the act of Congress of 1842, which confines the taxation in criminal cases to that of the criminal fee bill of the State, is wholly disregarded. The latter allows no retaining fees, and no term fees for attending to try a cause unless it is actually tried, and yet not less than eight or nine retaining fees are charged in a single cause. To show the different practice under the same law in the State courts, one of the accounts of a district attorney for one of the counties of the State of New York, is furnished by the Comptroller. This account includes all the ordinary services of a term, including the drawing three indictments, five trials, and preparation for the trial of thirteen causes; and yet the aggregate amount for the term is $62 06.

I refer to another table furnished from the same source, to exhibit the mode of charging adopted in some cases by the clerks:

Clerk's fees for attending district court for the southern district of Mississippi in bankruptcy:

Accounts of William Burns, clerk, for his per diem from May 19, 1845, to November 18, 1848, for 890 days' sitting in bankruptcy, at $5 per day...

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