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lands which might hereafter be disposed of, as it has received for what has been disposed of since the present price was fixed ; and which would leave, at the same time, to the States a liberal and satisfactory allowance. If this should prove to be the fact, the interests of all parties, even in a pecuniary point of view, would be reconciled. But that would be taking too narrow a view of this important subject. To determine correctly the true interests of the parties in this arrangement, we must raise our eyes above pecuniary considerations, to the far more interesting view—the political bearing of the measure. Thus viewed, the gain to both, and to the whole Union, would be incalculable. The new States would gain the ownership and administration of their whole domain—a gain not more essential to their own independence, than to the convenience of their citizens, who would thereby have their claims, connected with the public lands, adjusted by their own legislatures, instead of being dragged to a great distance from home to await the tardy and uncertain action of Congress. But their greatest gain would be, that they would be elevated to an equality with the other States in all respects, and exempted from the controlling influence of the Government arising from a widely expanded system of landoffices.
To the Union the gain would be not less important. Congress would be relieved from an immense and increasing mass of business, which now consumes at least .one-third of its time, and be left free to turn its attention to other subjects of deep interest, which it is now compelled to neglect. The sessions would be greatly shortened—a matter of importance, not only in a pecuniary, but still more in a political point of view. But these, though important, are but minor advantages.
There are others immeasurably greater. It would close our land-offices in the new States, and, with them, the door to the vast patronage and influence which they place in the hands of the Executive. Who can esti
mate this advantage? Who is there, that has a particle of patriotism or love of republican institutions, who would not rejoice at the reduction of such immense patronage, made, not only without injury, but with advantage, to the public? When we add to this, that it would remove all cause of conflict between the old and new States; that it would withdraw from the Presidential contest the public lands—that prolific source of corruption in the hands of the profligate—and, finally, that it would save our vast and noble domain itself from being squandered in the struggle, it is hardly in the power of calculation to estimate the advantages that would result.
Having now suggested what I believe to be the proper policy to be pursued in relation to the public layds within the new States, and hastily traced the advantages of the measure I have suggested for consideration, the next question is, Have we the right to dispose of the lands in the manner proposed ? I would not have supposed that there could have been a doubt on this point, had not the Senator from Massachusetts (Mr. Webster) raised it on this, as well as on a former occasion. The constitution gives to Congress, expressly, the right to dispose of the public lands; and why may they not dispose of them to the States as well as to individuals ? I can see no reason, and never have heard one assigned. We are in the daily habit of making grants to the States for public purposes; and if we may grant, may we not also sell or dispose of them, as I have proposed ? The lands belong to the States, in their confederate character, as has been stated ; and Congress is the trustee to dispose of them for the common benefit. They are bound, in the fulfilment of the trust, to dispose of them to the best advantage ; and if the disposition proposed be the best for all concerned, Congress has not only the right to make it, but would be bound by the trust so to do.
Entertaining these views, it may be asked why I have not brought forward the measure this session ? My an
swer is, there is not time, at the present short session, to digest and carry through a measure of so much importance, and involving so many and such conflicting interests. But I pledge myself, if present at the next session, to introduce it at an early day, and to use my best efforts to press it to a decision. If I can prevent it, no other measure relating to the public lands shall take precedence of it.
I have now presented my views as to the policy which ought to be adopted in reference to the public lands within the new States; and it only remains, in conclusion, to assign my reason for voting against the engrossment of this bill.
Believing that nothing short of a radical change of policy, such as that proposed, can arrest the evils apprehended from the present system, I am of the opinion, that till some permanent remedy can be applied, the proper course is to vote against all partial and temporary expedients like the present ; and I shall, in conformity to that opinion, give my vote against this bill. I believe it to be the course, not only the best calculated to insure, in the end, the application of a permanent and efficient remedy, but also to prevent, in the intermediate period, the mischiefs naturally resulting from the present system. But, in addition to these general reasons, there are others against this particular measure, sufficient to induce me to vote against it. Passing others by, I shall only notice one.
This bill is pressed on the Senate, on the ground, among other reasons, that it is a financial measure. It is stated that the treasury is deficit, and that one of the effects of the reduction of the price of the public lands would be, a present increase of the revenue from that source. I am not prepared to say whether such would be the fact, not having examined the point sufficiently to form an opinion ; but if it should be so, it would to me constitute an objection, instead
a recommendation. It is admitted that the increase of the revenue would be temporary, and be followed in a short
time by a corresponding reduction. Now, if I am not mistaken, the income of this and the ensuing year will, without further addition to the revenue, be sufficient to meet the expenditures, with due economy, and timely and judicious retrenchment. The pinch will be in the two subsequent years —1841 and 1842—when six-tenths of the entire reduction under the Compromise Act will take place. The difficulty will be in passing through those two years; and this bill considered as a measure of revenue, instead of passing now, ought to be postponed until then. Its passage at this time would but increase the difficulty two years hence. Whatever it might add to the income of this and the next year, would serve but to increase their expenditures to the same extent. Experience has taught us that our expenditures increase with our income, and that, if there be money in the treasury, it will be spent, regardless of consequences. The result would be that, instead of aiding the Government to meet the fiscal crisis of 1841 and 1842, by increasing its income then, it would compel it to meet it under the great disadvantage of increased expenditures with diminished means. Under this belief, if there were no other objections, I would feel myself compelled to vote against the bill.
On the Motion of Mr. Benton for leave to introduce a
Bill to repeal the Salt Duty and the Fishing Bounties; delivered in the Senate, January 30th, 1839.
MR. Calhoun said, he felt perfectly indifferent as to the fate of this motion. It was impossible for the proposed measure to pass at this time; and the only question was,
whether it should be voted down at this incipient stage, or at some subsequent one, after it had assumed the form of a bill. The only difference was this : if it was rejected now, the consumption of the time of the Senate would be saved ; but, on the contrary, if leave was granted, two or three days more would be spent in discussion, and then it would be rejected by a large majority. There were many, at all times, who, from courtesy or other motives, would vote for leave to introduce, but who were, at the same time, opposed to the measure. He had intended at one time to vote for leave himself, but as the Senator from Maine (Mr. Williams), who had taken the lead against the measure, had indicated his intention to vote against the motion, he would follow him as his leader on this occasion.
He had asserted that the measure could not succeed, on the grounds that the objections to any action on the subject, at this time, were overwhelming. If there were no other, it was all-sufficient that the duty on salt, under the Compromise Act, was going off as fast as the wants of the treasury and the interests of commerce would permit. It was already reduced to about six or seven cents the bushel, and would be reduced, during the next three years, to about two cents. In the mean time, the treasury would need all its means to meet its engagements, and the interests of commerce would be injuriously affected, by making the reduction more rapid than it will be. All changes in the rates of duties ought to be made gradually, even when they lightened the burdens.
Mr. C. said, that he was far from thinking that the time already spent in the discussion of this motion was lost. It had made many developments important to be known by those whom he represented,-some of which were highly favorable to their future prosperity and quiet,—and others of an opposite character. Of the former, he heard with pleasure the very sensible and manly remarks of the Senator from Maine, nearest to him (jfr. Williams). He took the true