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APPENDIX TO THE CONGRESSIONAL GLOBE.
The Homestead Bill-Mr. Dodge, of Iowa.
wise to screw it up to the utmost, or even to suffer bidders to enhance, according to their eagerness, the purchase of objects wherein the expense of that purchase may weaken the capital to be employed in their cultivation. The prinMr. President, the homestead bill, so called, cipal revenue which I propose to draw from these uncultivated wastes, is to spring from the improvement and popucomes to us with a strong indorsement from the lation of the kingdom; events infinitely more advantageous people's Representatives. It passed the House, to the revenues of the Crown than the rents of the best "It is thus I after having been before that body for nearly landed estate which it can hold." would dispose of the unprofitable landed estates of the seven years, during which time it was considered Crown: throw them into the mass of private property; by and discussed in nearly all its aspects and bearwhich they will come, through the course of circulation, ings. It is emphatically a measure of progress, and through the political secretions of the State, into well * ✰✰ "Thus would fall an exand one which I think, if enacted into a law, is destined to produce benefits to our whole country. regulated revenue." pensive agency, with all the influence which attends it." In examining the objections which have been But I have higher authority than even that of We are commanded urged against this measure, I am astonished to perceive that they are but a repetition of those England's great statesman. in that book which should be the rule of life for which were made against every preemption and graduation bill that has ever been brought before all, not to glean either the "sheaf," the "grape,' the "olive," or the "corners of the land." The Congress since the commencement of our land soil of a country is the gift of the Creator to his system; and yet, at this day, so great has been creatures, and in a government of the people, the triumph of correct principles, that few, if any, can be found who will raise their voices against that gift should not become the object of speculation and monopoly. I am strongly of the belief preemption or graduation. Try this measure in that these donations will work great good both to All other Govits practical workings for but a few years, and like results, I venture to predict, will be produced. the Government and the people. ernments have made them. The domain of the 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 pay was ever demanded in gold and silver, before of man. It is the only measure at all likely to come before Congress for the benefit of those who it could be settled and cultivated. Different was the conduct of other Governments, and even that till the earth for a support; and this consideration, of the States owning land: Kentucky, Tennessee, of itself, is sufficient to commend it to my support. and one third of Ohio, and a considerable portion It will not only be an evidence of the favor with which Congress views the cultivation of the soil, of Georgia-if my information be correct—were settled by free grants of land. Upper and Lower but it will tend greatly to increase the number of 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 from the Kings of Spain. Since those countries independence, and happiness of our people. Some have become ours, the early settlers, to whom these think that it will destroy the receipt of all revegrants were made, have been harassed and annues from the public domain. In this opinion I noyed by having their titles contested by the Unido not concur. Indeed, I may say, I fear they are mistaken; for I have long been of the opinion ted States officers in the courts, and in every other conceivable manner. Very different has been the that the best interest of the Republic demand an abolition of the auction or private sales of the policy of the conterminous and other Governments on this continent. Are not the British public domain, and that it should be conveyed only to those who design to settle upon and im- lands in Canada given at this day to all who will come and take them? In 1825, the British Parliaprove it. The gigantic and ruinous speculations ment, with a view to the strengthening of a remote in the public lands in 1835-'36, to which I have before alluded, can never be forgotten in the history province, appropriated £30,000 sterling (nearly $135,000) to pay the expenses of emigrants moving of this country. It was in the year last named to Canada. Look at what Mexico and Texas that the late distinguished Secretary of the Treashave done. They have given land in immense ury, R. J. Walker-then a Senator from Mississippi-brought forward a bill in this body to put quantities to any one who would go and take it 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 Government on earth, many years since, about 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 the landed bounty of foreign, and at that time descountry. potic Governments-their own offering none.
In the West Indies, and all over South America, the same liberal system of disposing of the public domain has prevailed. I read from a decree of the Republic of Colombia, dated June, 1823:
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 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 Parliament:
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those now constituting the galaxy of the American Union.
"A landed estate is certainly the very worst which the
name, and by the authority of Abbys Mirza, King of Per-
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 Republics of the New? I trust not! Land was given, not of God. "God gave the earth to the inhabitants sold, in that country which was the peculiar care thereof." The promised land was a gift to the children of Israel; one dollar and twenty-five cents the acre was not demanded for it; nor the actual cultivator expelled from his home, if he possessed not the two hundred dollars to pay down land was then the gift of God to man, and to for the one hundred and sixty acres, and his home sold, under the hammer, to the highest bidder;, woman also; for the daughters of Manasseh were permitted to inherit and partake of the bounty of the Giver of all good.
Mr. President, to show the evils of the present land system, I call your attention to a letter from the Commissioner of the General Land Office respecting the State of Missouri. From this letter it is seen that that State contains a superficial area of about 65,037 square miles, or 41,623,680 acres; of this quantity 17,125,174 acres have been sold, and 188,901 acres absorbed by Spanish and French grants, leaving 24,309,605 acres unsold upon the 30th day of June last, according to the Commissioner's statement now before me.
"The Senate and House of Representatives of the Republic of Colombia, united in Congress, considering: 1st. That a population, numerous and proportionate to the territory of a State is the basis of its prosperity and true greatness; 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 numerous emigration of useful and laboring strangers, who, by improving their own fortunes, may augment the revenues of the nation, have decreed:
Under the present wretched system of disposing of the public lands, the first sales in Missouri took years for the Federal Government to sell 17,125,place in 1818. Thus, if it has taken thirty-four 174 acres, by the same ratio, estimating by the rule of proportion, it will take forty-eight years to dispose of the remaining lands in that State. The 24,309,635 acres, divided by 160, the quantity given to each settler under this bill, would add to the population of the State 151,935 land-owning and tax-paying inhabitants.
In Michigan the state of things is even worse, as is seen from the following letter of the Commissioner of the General Land Office:
"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."
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 On the the 30th June last, a period of thirty-four years, there was sold and located by land warrants 9,858,670 acres. 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,
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
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 abundance of money, caused by the discovery of gold in California, asking a repeal of the restriction, and that they be permitted to pay for their lands. Such a law has been passed during the present session, and those settlers now have their option of purchase or conditional gift. I only refer to this circumstance to show that the conditions imposed by the homestead bill are rigorous, and are so regarded by its beneficiaries-those at least of them who are so fortunate as to accumu late the means necessary to pay for their claims 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
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 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.
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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, the 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?-honest 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 necesYou 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,
THE HOMESTEAD BILL.
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 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 ||
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
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 an. swered 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
APPENDIX TO THE CONGRESSIONAL GLOBE.
The Homestead Bill-Mr. Charlton.
should give to all branches of industry by my
require of us; whether the title, glorious as it is
quarter section;" my doom would be more protracted 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 manthat 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, and all other branches of industry. I do not think, therefore, that you encourage agriculture by this bill; but if you do, you certainly do not encourage all other branches of industry. It is true, to a certain degree, that agriculture, when kept within 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 agricultural and the manufacturing interests constantly arrayed against each other in this country,-one asks for free trade and the other for a protective tariff.
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"heads of famireward, there are few healthy lies" 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 this day have been the miserable tillers of a "quarter section," if such a bait had been held out to them; if such a miserable cheat had deluded their minds.
But now, seriously, let us look this title in the
I suppose I must not say that agriculture is a
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 agriculture-tainly that great measure so important to the best interests of our country; and not only that, but it is to encourage commerce, next in importance to this 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; But, say the advocates of no one can deny that. 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 courage 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. 1 have got the index and the title-page, and only want And Mathews tells this the body of the work." 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
But be that as it may, you certainly do not increase 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 agriculturist. 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 livelihood, and send them to cultivate land? Plenty But it is not 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 that the law will not have the effect it professes only way you can answer me is by the assurance 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 usefulness 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, 1 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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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.
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.
THE FEE BILL.
SPEECH OF HON. J. W. BRADBURY, OF MAINE,
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
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.
1800 1820 1830 1840 1849
No. of years.
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.
$34,875 86 153,497 97
84,428 79 174,443 69 299,908 89 282,640 49 321,030 69 468,748 99
From 1791 to 1793...
$11,625 28 25,582 99 42,214 39 43,610 92 74,977 22 70,660 12 80,257 67 117,187 24 4 128,425 22 4 598,333 62 149,583 40 Years 1830 and 1831. 2 408,865 03 204,432 51 From 1832 to 1837... 6 1,559,161 49 259,860 24 Years 1838 and 1839. 2 642,703 43 321,351 71 Years 1840 and 1841. 2 747,390 26 373,695 13 From 1842 to 1847... 51 2,555,427 77 464,623 23 Years 1848 and 1849. 2 938,446 05 469,223 02 Year 1850 513,428 20 564,854 04 Year 1851 616,279 89 Increase per centum of population, and expenses of the courts since the year 1800.
Year. Population. Increase. Expen. of courts. Increase.
Per cent. 177 384 785 1,011 1,237
APPENDIX TO THE CONGRESSIONAL GLOBE.
32D CONG.....2D SESS.
The Fee Bill-Mr. Bradbury.
I now refer to another table showing the expenditures in the different districts:
UNITED STATES Indicted for perjury, prior to April
175 62% 46 37%
Mr. Hall charges as follows:
Amount charged, taxed by the judge, 1849, and certified by the clerk as legal and proper, per June term.....
per July term
per August term..
Total attorneys' fees charged and taxed.....
36 25 ... 35 00
Mr. Hall's charges at nine terms of court..$280 50 The charges of Lorenzo B. Shepherd, the predecessor of Mr. Hall in the same cause, are as follows: Items. Date. 1849-February term, Shepherd's charges, (which include 1st and 3d items, $3 00 for motion to postpone trial; $50 00 for drawing indictment of 200 folios; $50 00 for engrossing ..$178 25 and copying; and $25 00 for copies for the grand jury). March term, 1st, 2d, and 3d items, same as April term above.. April term, 1st, 2d, and 3d items, same as allowed by Mr. Hall, charged..
29 87% 29 00
46 37% 178 50
Total charge taxed and paid to Shepherd for
Total attorneys' fees taxed and paid for eleven
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 to that of the criminal fee bill of the State, is wholly 1842, which confines the taxation in criminal cases disregarded. The latter allows no retaining fees, and no term fees for attending to try less 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
$4,450 00 20 00 $4,470 00
The whole number of days within that period was
Number of Sabbaths...
Number of days charged for attendance....
1,280 182 894 204
On the 7th February, 1846, the clerk reported to the Secretary of State of the United States that the number of applicants for relief under the bankrupt act was, cases....
Mr. Burns charged from February 7, 1846, (the date of that report,) to November 18, 1848, for his attendance on the .$3,310 00 court in bankruptcy to dispose of those three cases, 662 days, at $5 per day...