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The Public Lands

The Public Lands image
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Somc time eince wo prouiified to givo our views of f lic policy which ou;ht to !; p:irsued by the government of the United Ktnies in the disposal of ib'j Public Lqtida, Tho prcesnic ot oihcr mnlters has ohlied us to dvhiy the statement uuttl the present time. According to tho report of the Coiiimisúúner nrf the Liinii Office, pfcisi i.-M.", itiare wcré ü- wards of lol) milliuns of acres of public Iniuls, survcyc.l. unsold, oud su!jfcl to private enirj'. These wen sitmtcd in ï'-i States md 'JVn ttorica. Tlic qiianiity of lan! subject to sale scems 10 In; mgmenting nt tlio present timo, as the survoyy aiiionnt to 10 or 11 nitijibns ycnilv, ffijiilo the salei ure lesa thin iwo milll.mH. The mtnilit-r uf acres 8)ld in lir'4 t was !.?5l.?í':' ncres, nnJ the rcccipt8 into the 'J'rcnsuiy uerL-.f;'-3.2 )7.?G-'. Tlie amount of surveyet!, uní'.)!;! pul-üc l;md iiiiw ín market, if cquiiFly diviilüd amoiig iho pc-plcof t!ic United Stntcs, wo!il (jivc 30 ncrestü '.'vi-ry ianiily of five crsoiis. The nuuibcr of lercs ot unsurveyed Linds, tïits si 'Ie of the Rock y Mountains, we hnve no dita fpr sloting nccurntoU', bat suppose ata rough cstimatc, ilicy musí tmouni to more thnn six tirufcs as inany. S lint if the wholo puldic doinnin wcre e'qttnlly i! virled nmoi'g the people of tho United State; each faniily wpuld have a farm bilt jiltle, if all short ot 200 acres. The queation iris'f !iiW s'iall tlin [inmense proper y b-j i'itosd ui Ve have heard four nioihods suggested : 1. Con:inae the present syste.n : Iet the Go firnment sell what it can at pretent uiees, nn( k?pp ihc remaindcr. 2. Givc i; to the States fjr purposes of inler nal mprovement. 3. Givc n farm to cvery lahdlcïs man in th United States wTio will occupy it. 4. Graduallv reduce the pricc of the IanJs nc cordinjjto the time (ffey lurvc heen in maiket. fo '25 years. and ihen eedc tho unsold remaindcr t the States in which thev lic. Let us examine these proposals a litile in de uil. I. The present sy:om has peveml obsunlitic a'jotit it, One is, tliat though eome tracts lind are worth five times as much nsothers, th iovernment asks the name pricc for all. In private land dealer, such a course would 1 deerned absurd and fjolish. IIo would bc nskin .too much fcr hid poorest lands, or tob little fo his bost. licsides, iho pbject of a governmci actuated by liberal viewd would bc chicfly o se cure tlvc sit Ument and oceujufiim of the oom try by permanent residenls. Pecuniary conste crations miglit, indeed, come n, but t!uy wou bc secondary in importanre. in the tnind of atatesman. And even in this point of view, tl . present policy is not the wiiest: for, werc tli prices diminieiied, tlie increased sales woul 'bring more into tlic troiütiry than is now re ceived. In addition to tlu's, nbout onetenth [art of the public lands is lound to be unsalablo, bein; composed of swampd, marylics, barrens, anti lands ofvcry püor (]u:ilny. bhouM the present sysien continuo, alter tlic I;ipso of a half century, th ,'ovcrnmcnt wuuld reniain the IioKJitb of q tent part of ilie public lomnin, entirely unsalúbe scaiterci! tlirouli 20 States and oilured in vai forsale at tífty or ahulidroillandoffices. Lasily, the present eyetem is a preventative o rapid eetïlcm'ént, Werc tlic prico reiluced, . ih Inndu woiild sell fastcr and eenlc more rapilly Tlic poor.rnán who now bas but 5') dollars mus wait pcrliaps scveral ycara beforclie will be abl o purchase an eigliiy aerfl lot, or forego the pur cIi.ifc altogether. Wliercas wero tbe prico re ducedto hnlf its present rnte, h could immedi itcly iurc!iiisc a farm, and scttlc on it witti hi faniily. 2. To givc the public lande to thó Stntcs ii whichthey lic, or to eoch of the States, accord ing to its respective popslation, would be very unwiae. It would bc much bettcr for tho Gen eral Government to g ve them to individuals a once. ít has, ir.decd, boon proposed thnt thc use of them uhóuld be restricícd omircly to construcíing work of nternal improvemont. But i Stntc Legislnture is ono uf tho most unfit bodes in the world to enrry on a systcni of public works. íta moiiibcre, for the most part. are rcncwcd overy ycar: thcy know voiy ofie public resources, or tho plons of thcir prodecseors, and most ut tin m cnro comparntively ittlo ex nopt to vote so as to promoto thoir own rivata intcrests nmong thcir constitucnts !encc thcre is hot n Rnilroad or Cnnnl in tlio iimtry, constrtictcd by a State, (except the Erio Cinnl) that keeps itsell in' ropnir and paya tho ucK-i-i ou iis cost. Boaidës, there are too many vils conncctcd wiili ilie syoionj of State Intcrnal ' nprovcment to render bucIi n nppUcation of ie public londa ot 11 advisuble. WO nced not numérate tliem, as ihcy have been reccmlyso lorouglily d'.scussed in onr Stnte. 3. Tlio third proposal s to furnish encli landcsb man iu the country with a farm, providcd ie wil! siitllf on il and nc:upy t. Tho National leformers deniand tliat the public lands hall be oft frte for occupincv by any landlcss person. N'miü iü ow the soil: but t'ic eeitler on a spot I tho uic fixed on for n farm to bo securo iu o8LC83on, bo ionj; as hc ehooses to occupy i, nd has no lnnd - every person havinga propcry in liis iniprovemonta but not in tho fee of the and, tind being at lihcity to sell to any ImlIIüsj ïan. Öorflce Greolcyj of th i. Y. Tribuno s snid to favor this project. The avowed ol)juct of the Reformo, as wo understaad it, to mnke tho use of the corih as freo to every individual as the air and water nov are. Tliis proposnl loes not s'.riko na favorably for mnny reasons. If it bo nicant to benefit the )onr who are unnble to purchasc land, the rulo ie not discriininatihg e'nóugh: for many thousancls o( persons ore quitü weahliy who own no land. Besidcá, it would be ofit-iing a premium lo vi'cjï and hizincsa. The eiliifiícs3, profligóte raiscal, who nas consumed all at the grocc y, has a farrn given liim, wlnle his cotnpanion. who by thé closest indusiry and ecpnoiuy, hns a' forty aero lot , is. for lint ttry rt.ascn, cxcluded from an cqual sh-ue of the public doinaiti. W'-a would not be portinaeious about tliid, howevcr, il'tlic gift wquKI add much to the real wcll being of the mul liid family. But tbis may well be doubt -d, na wc shall seo if we anulyzo th; matter, and imjiiire what class would be benefitieti liy tliis Hisjvs il of tho public lands? Not the nel. landliol.lcr, he needs no more tand. - No: the wenihy or coinfortnblo uvvncr of persjnal próperty: heis in gopd business whcro ho 8, nnl woulrl be n loser by settüng on real 'St.-le. The industiious nr.d enterpriuing loborcr weadmit, wonld be bencfitted t the full extent of tho gitt. But it is wortl.y ol'remark t'iat iliis closs of nnui havo comparativejy linie need of the dunatior.s of tliejgoverinnent in order tolive. TUey aro cohijiotent, except in extraordinary caseP, to tnke caro of thcinselves. Jf thcysirc latid, t lie proceeds of less iban n ycar's labor wlll parchase n farm largo enough to last n whölü life; and we sgö all aroúnd us, inpii are in e:irnc8t to gol farriisj iliey rnri-Iy fail. Thr only ivm.iifiinj eloss tu bc boiififitted are tho vii íd'is. tlie niproviiiont, and the Inzy. If these oul'l le Iransfornied intn sober. indii8trious.ini] mota] citizcpp, liy ;:iing them tlie right to select a piece of land and live oñ il, we would waive ail i!jocti;u lü clm proposal, Dut all experienco demónstrales thai it is of üulc use lo donálp üca:i8 for the copsumpton of thes tlirco cingues of persons. The vicjous will epend ihaamoMnt on his v!co. (10 liif'lesé wil] waste it, niff ttttt in;l.!ont wil) consume ii without rtioking cíí;Y D procuro more to repiuce it. Therè must be ari inward rbgenerátion in attcH persons liciore théir corfditidn can lio insiftrinHy ani permanrntly linprovcd l.y any cumbiuntioii of outward circumsiancca. Tlius, wlitthor the land l'c piven by the fïo?nniüicnt lo iiiilividu ils ti le hcid in ft-eorotherwise, otily a einaïl poi lion of thfl occnpieri", tho tulusirjoue and Irugnl lahorois, will lo benciittcd, ui ilitse to nnly n liim'tod oJic-nt. 4. A reductjpn of the prico of the Public Lnnda. on the piincijile we hnve befare 6taie'l, would open the wholo vnst dnmaiti for tho por iis feH aa tho ncli. The is to gradu - Qiotho price of tlie Public linds nccoidinjj to théir, nml tlmt valne is to be deier rrtinéd by the Icngth of time ihey liave beeil in marker. Thiis for ihe lirM five yeais, ihe pricc .shall be, aaat present, $1,15 per acre: for the next five, $1,00 por nerd: for ihe next iivo, 75 Cents: for thenoxt five, 5Í ceno: for the next five, 25 corita: and the rerohirider shall then vest in i)rd Slatt-s in wliich ihey lio. Under th8 sysiom, any laírer, wiih the proccjds of four or five immths labor, coul 1 purchtsp 40 ncrea of acres of land of llio beet qiiality, or 200 acres of tlie poorest; or he could havo tl. o sjinc valuo in lands of any intormediatc price. - Wlicrernillions of acres liy beforea man at theae mies how could any onc havo tbo fice to conipiaiaof'a monopoly of Iand7" This plan would more tlnn ïndetnhify the Gjveniüu'nt all its expenses in pnrchüsing, sclliiii; and sin veying ihc land: for ll oiïicial repörts of tho Ltind ütlicc estitnr.te tliia total exp-nsc, on nn average, at 3 cents j)cr acre. - Heneo, on the plan proposed, tiie netprofit of iho Govcrnincnt, even at these reduced prices, RTid allowiun loss of one-temh of the land, would be 41 cents per ncre. Tliiti plan would mnkc a final end of tho intcriferoncó. of iho Qenerni Gftvorrmcnt in the new States, and give the severtil Stateo the control oí all the land iu iheir liinüu'. '1 he last Itrpori froni tho Lond Olitcc advócales thïs ecssion to the Siates. and snys that the p1nn would vest immciliiic'j in cath.Siate the following number of acres: Stntcs. Acres. Ohio, 420,329 Jndiann, 1,285,05)5 Illinois; 3,ÜÖ5,10i MteouTij 2,307,25 Mississippi, 4,140,878 Louisiana, 1,141,605 Alabama, 4,510,895 Michiyan, 27,426 This thakcèti total of fi'tecn millions of acres, uil of which has been ofTcred Por salo 25 ycars, und which ii is thereforo proposud nu to cede directly to these Siatcs. But the propriety of vesting such lar;o amounts of lunds in particular Stntes, might wdl be quesiioned. Beeides, these Jiiiuls, although thcy have been oflered for snlo 5 yeara, have nöt b'ccn oiT;rcd at all at the rcduccd prices proposcd. Had thcy been Hubjected to tln'3 tiliding scalc, the amount now n hono would not have been as Inrgo by threo fourihs. ii would tbcrefore be beitcr io oil'cr líete lands, for a short périod nt least, for 6alo at tho rcduccd rales, before ccding to tho S latee. But a systemof this kind, likcall ineasures of public policy, should be permanent and stablo, or ita full benefits cannot bc a'taincd. Somo would bc apprehensivc of tho incroaso of speculation at reduced prices: but a littlo r(lection will show that tho induecmenta under a permanent gruJuation system would bo no greatcr than thcy n w arü,while tho receipts íroin actual settlors, both nutive and forcign bom, would bü vaslly inercascd.