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Land Tenures: To The Members Of The N. Y. Constitutional Con...

Land Tenures: To The Members Of The N. Y. Constitutional Con... image
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CON'SCJUPT FATHEXS ! Oí' the magnitude and enduring consequences of the arduous cluties to which you have been called, you will doubtless ave no neod to be reminded. Oí" the higli hopes which the peoplc have been induccd to cherish concerning the rcsults of your labors. you hnve doubtless had pleasantyet painful assurance. Of the vital distinction betwecn the labors retfuired at your hands and thosc which propcrly pertain to ordinary Legislativo bodies, - the necessity that you should recur constan tly to first principies and let your deliberations be guidcd, your decisionsbe goyerned, by radical, elementary Justice - I will not presume any of you ignorant. And indeed the simple fact that you have been i mpelled to place among your regular Standing Committees one "On thé creaiion and división of Estatcs in Land" is of itself an evidence that ideas which since the origin ofciety have flitted casually and tirnidly across the aching brain of the ensluvod, the houscless, the starving, but have till reccntly never ventured to cross the thresholds of thrifty men's houses, much loss darken the doors of Halls of Legisla tion, are becoming familiar to the eminent and tolerablo to the polite - or at least must be toterated whotlier tleemed tolerable or not. I ani awaro that recent and mournful eventsin our own Statehavc here compcllcd the public consideration of fundamental questions respecting Land sooncr tlian would have otherwise occurred. I mean that these evento have caused a large mmber toconsider what a few only had previously reilectcd and spoken upon. The resulta of this consideration, in the minds of many citizens, may be briofly eaibodloJ in the following propositions, viz : 1. The L'acih is tho Loru's, and the fullnossthcreof. 'Z. It was given by Ilim lor the stistunance and enjoymentof llie whole Human Family, and subordlnalely Iherctoof tho animal kingdom. 3. It is tlieduty of evenj human being able to workto carn a subsistenc by hcarty, ])crsistent lndutry in soine dqarlment of useful labor. 4. He that will not vork shouhl not oat. 5. ThO apportionment of the Earth's surfaco to different individuals and families is properly calculatcd to promoloand should ever be made to subserve the great end of compelling the jdle to work for a living, and securing to the industrious the entire fruits of their toil. G. Every man (certainly, everyjent man,) has a God givcn right to livc. Flus right of coursc implies that thcre s some place where he has a right to livc - sonio 7neas by which he assurcdly :nay live. He lias, by the fact of hi.s airth, a right to the ue and enjoyment of a reasonable portion of the clements provided by the Crcator for Man's Jevolopmcnt, sustenance and cpmforti - But this right is practically denied where the soil is'legally made thc property of tho few or even many, to the exclusión of othors of lifco wants and facultics with themselvcs. Thus we say a man has a right to breathe air and drink water j but if the Government werc to grant or sell all the air and water to certain individuáis and companics, who should in turn scll permits to breathe ata cent an hour and to drink whènl thirsty at a corresponding rate, the right s to breathe and quench their thirst with water would bo practically subverted, though cvery one should continue to breathe and drink as hitherto hy contract with the Air-lords and Water-lords. So of Labor. Man must labor that he may honestly subsist. lic is divincly ommandcd to labor. But the principie ofLandlordism says, "You shall notobey 'the Divine command without obta-ining lmy permisión and paying me tribute." - Though a poor man's gnawing stomach andsuirering childron imperatively incite him to work, yet the Law forbids him to do so until he can find somc onc who belicves he emi make a pwfit by giving the needy applfcaiit employinent. If he ventures even to dig roots or piek berrics inlie woori, to satis f y imperativo cravngs of Nature, tho Law pronounces him l trespasser, and liable to an acüon fbr lamage. Ilcre are fundamental érrors - wrongs n Principie, which evidently lead to ivrbñgs ïii Practice. That they may not Inevcry case do so, is cheejfully conceded. Thousands of men owning no land and having no legal Rightto Labor save by othei-'s permission, do yet live comfortably, have ubundant cmpluynient, and enjoy the full fruits of their toil. - Manygrcat landowners among are the best ofmen - much better thanthelaws which authorize them to deny the use of thesoil to those who need it. But forthis there can be no securihj to any wliile the few own whnt thc many cannot do without. At this moment I hear of on5! man who owns Eight Mtllions of fertile acres in Texas; nnother wants to soll over One Miliïon of acres in this State. They are both good men. It is not their fault that Land Monopoly is logalized and sanctified the world over, and bas been in almost óvery Constitution but that given by God to Moscs. It is your business to rectify elemental Political abuses even though softencd and disguised by Time. Compare that oWConstution given through Moses, and say whether its rigid requirements of perpetual divisions and restorations of Land be not the necessary dictate of that earlier and universal Law whioh prescribes altérnate seasonsof Labor and Rest and enjoins their observance on the whole Human Race. The evils of Land Monopoly, like thosc of Slavery, Idol-worsliip and Intemperanco, and every veneraljle wrong, are only obscured to tho generrl niindby custom and familiarity. Volumes of startling tntfh might be fillcd with thcm. The recent "Anti Kent' troublcs would findparallelson nearly every page of a true Social Hisfory of man. Tuis Monopoly is the overshadowing curse of the farnished Milliona of Creat Britain anJ Ircland. In vain have these run through a round of Politica! convulsions to escape them ; in vain do they now shout for "Chêap Bread" or "Repeal," if the tíoil from which Twenty-eigut Millions must bc subsisted is to continuo mainly llic absolute propcrly of a few thousands, with the famishing multitudc bidding desperuloly against each other for the sad privileg'ï of doing the most work for the least fraction ol'tho proceeds. Repeal will prove nminly valuablc to Ireland as afibrdinghec a cliance for soinc relief from the horrors of rack-ionts, absentee ! ',l,.[-dsand Land Tcnure3 which disoo.uragq íniproveraent and diniinish employment. Frec Corn, if good for any thing to Englaiul, is so only as aiKmling some mitigation of the exactions of Landlordism. This is whut i'nmeo bas gained by her licvolutiun, and she fondly chcrishes it os a rich reward for the iaCnite misery and gore through which she Vaded to ils uttainmoni. I )q ybu say that the evils of Land Monopoly ace confined to the Old World ? How can you ?- Look at our Holland Purchase, embracing twelve or fifteen Counties of the best soilofour State. - This was originally sold to a speculator for 12 cents per acre, to be resold by him or his assigns to settlers, as it mainly has been. And how sold ? Ahea'iy ateast twcnty times the original purchasc c ïas been paid for it by the settlers, yet i hcre is probably more due upon it today v mortgages included) than there ever was a jefore. Already not loss than Fifty tl fhousandof our fellow-citizens haveaMindoncd it for the Western wilds c :ause they had become hopeless of ever ■ )aying for their respective purchasep. - Thousands more are following every = y-ear. Itmust bewithin tho mark to say [hat if this región had been allotted to actual sottlers only at a charge of twice ? What the sneculators paid for it, the ulation of our State would by this time p have been greater by tens of thousand t( and its wealth by many millions. Look at our great "Manors" and "Pat' r ents," fur which little or nothing wás ever given by the original patroons and p tees ; follow up their subsequent history ; t look at thera now ! Look to our great i National Domain, ostensively sold to settlers in small tracks at ten shillings an fc acre, but rcally monopolizod in large , tracts by speculators and re-sold for so ; many dollars. I have now in my mind ' one - a great Reforme r in bis own way - ! who owns twclve hundred acres of rich Ohio bottom, and means to hold it, in uttcr uselessness, till it will bring him fifty dollars an nero- forly times what the Oovernment received for it. Suppose aïï the holders of wild lands should combine to exact doublé their present prices - could they not obtain it? What is to hinder them? 'THe Public Lands,' do you say1 Partial bnrrier as they are, how long will they be even that? At this moment, tbe Rothschilds might buv upivciy arable acre the Government hos in narket, follow close on the heels of the lurveyors of moro, and, by a little consent with the present holdersof wild ln,nd, jompel all future settlers to pay them two o two thousand dollars per acre, accordng to the location, Ought tliis to be? To save the Lands yet Public from such monopoly - to make Üiem practically Free to actual settlei-s, otherwise landless, and to them only - is the duty of Congress ; but there are stiü duties devolving upon you. Every husband and father driven by want of employment to intemperance and vice ; every daughter goaded to infamy or suicide by inability to oarn a subsistence - and no sun rises without awakiüg to remorse rrmny fresh victims of want and despair - is an additional argument for land Reform. Do not ask the superficial question - "How could land benefit these ?" As well ask how grain can be of service to one wlio never aees a kernel of it untH it has been transformed into bread. If the lands now lying utte-ly unuscd in oulr State were open to settlcment by those who need them, thousands would bo drawn away from tho cities and villages to sottlo them, leaving far arnpler employment and better prospects for others. I must bclieve that a Free Soil would win away thousands more with them as wives, mothers, sisters, &c. and thus relieve the av.fut presure on the Labor Marketofourcrowded cities. When we have established somewhere the Righi of Man tothe Soil, and thus to Labor foi huself.we may, with more semblance of justice, rebuko and discipline th drunkards, gamblers, idlers, profligates ;md bèififnrswhö infest our cities, makininight hklcous with their orgies and ilay hateful by thoir presence ;But the Convention cannot take away the lands of the Rich to relieve the wants of the Pooi-." Who has said it could ? - I know well that the Rights of Property, though originally founded in orror, must be respectetl. But the Convention can forbid future aggrrgaiions nf great Land ed Es f ut es among us, andprort'defor the gradual hreaJnng vp of ihosc tcHich noto exist ui our State. It may provide against any body's acquiring-, say oftor the 4fli of.Tuiy, 1817, more than IGO or at most 320 acres of the arabic Soil of this State ; and if inore sháll full to any individual by inheritance, may require the sale of the excess over the Constitutional limit wiliiin óneyear after its acquisition, under penalty of forieitnre tQtheSlate; or, if tliis bc dconiod objectionable, may reiuler it tho duty of sonie officer tosell the exce&s in pareéis fo the highest bidder. Thíswould abridgo no man's opportunilies of acquiring wealth ; it would immensely increase the pppo'rtunities ojf iiinety-ninein every hundrêd. it would encourage every property-holdcr to enrich, bemüify and render fruitful lus proper share of the Soil instead ofschèming to acquire his neighbor's. ïts ultimaíé eíTect would bc to render the cultivatorsof the earth its ownors, and stimulate every one to oarn by the facility afforded for acquiring a homestead, which would be inalienable save by voluntary sale to a landless purchaser. Fifty times the present amount of Labor might be profitably devoted to the cultivation of this State alone, insuring a correspondingreasc in the for fubrics, mechan;al labor, &c, and the Land Limitation rould tend powerfully to produce such chango. Will you not pondor thesoLaws ngninst nlieiis holding Real Esinte are ohwehs. Any lo ly can evade them.