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that additional allowance, because it nearly corresponds to that proposed to be given in the bill for distribution (introduced by the author of the scheme) to the new States above that allowed to the old. I refer to the bill that passed both houses and was vetoed by the President. That allowed 121 per cent., which, for the sake of facility in calculating, I have enlarged to 13 per cent.
I have, I trust, now successfully met the only two objections which can, in my opinion, be urged with any plausibility against the measure I intend to propose, by proving, not only that there would be reasonable assurance that the States would abide by the terms of the cession, but that it is the only measure which can be devised to prevent the almost certain loss of the public domain under the operation of the system as it now stands; and that, instead of a loss, there would be a clear pecuniary gain. If I have succeeded in doing so, I have done all that ought, according to my conception, to be necessary to obtain the support of the body. But I cannot be ignorant that there are members from the new States who prefer supporting this bill to the measure I intend to propose ; not that they think it better, but because they believe it has the best prospect of passing. In this I think they are mistaken. It is not probable that either can pass the present session. It is now but a few weeks to its termination, and it is impossible, in the midst of the crowd of other business, that any important measure, not indispensable, can get through, especially a systein of pre-emption and graduation which has been so long struggling, unsuccessfully, to pass both houses. But if it cannot pass now, there is little prospect that it can the next four years, against the opposition of the coming, when it could not, with the aid of the present and late administrations.
With this prospect, I put it to my friends from the new States, Is there not danger in pressing these isolated measures, which cannot settle the vexed and dangerous questions of thepublic lands, and which, at best, can be pressed on grounds only interesting to those States, that they will lose, not only a favorite measure, but cause the passage of the most obnoxious to them of all measures, that of distribution ? I ask them, Can they hope to oppose successfully a measure so seductive to so many members of the Union, by a measure so partial in its operation, and which, so far from appealing to the reason or sympathy, of two-thirds of the States, secures but a reluctant vote from any of them ; more from party feelings and associations than any conviction of its justice or expediency ? Let me tell my friends, that if the struggle is to continue between this bill and the scheme for distribution, it is, on their part, a desperate one. Defeat is certain ; and there is no way to avoid it (if it be not already too late) but to enlarge the issue—to raise it above mere local or pecuniary considerations to the broad and elevated ground of a final settlement of this deep and agitating question, on just and satisfactory principles, and thereby arrest the countless evils rushing through that channel on the country. It is only thus that an antagonist of sufficient strength can be reared up against the dangerous and corrupting scheme of distribution. A measure seductive to many of the States, unfortunately overwhelmed by debt, could only be successfully opposed by one which would make a powerful appeal to truth, justice, and patriotism. As strong as may be the appeal to the necessity of the embarrassed States, a still stronger may be made to the higher and more commanding considerations of duty and patriotism. Such an issue, I believe, the measure I propose would tender to the country. I solemnly believe it to be founded on truth, and sustained by justice and high considerations of policy; and all it needs to ensure it success, if I mistake not, is the earnest and determined support of the States which not only have the deepest stake, but whose independence and equality, honor and pride, as members of this proud republic of States, are involved.
Having now presented my views of the amendment I intend to offer, with a motion to strike out the amendment of the Senator from Kentucky and insert mine, I shall conclude with a few remarks in reference to the leading feature of his amendment, the distribution of the proceeds of the public lands among the States.
It is not my intention to enter on the discussion of a measure which I cannot but regard as palpably unconstitutional, as well as dangerous and corrupting in its tendency. I do not deem it necessary, as I expressed my opinion fully on the subject at the last session. I intend, at this time, to make a few remarks, in order to show that, viewed under every possible aspect, it must be regarded as either foolish, idle, or unjust.
It is admitted, on all sides, that the treasury is embarrassed, and that no part of the revenue can be withdrawn without making a corresponding deficit, which must be supplied by taxes on the people in one form or another, and that the withdrawal of the revenue from the land would cause a deficit, so to be supplied, of not less, probably, than $5,000,000 annually. The whole process, then, would consist in giving to the people of the several States their proportional share of the five millions of the revenue from the lands, to be collected back from the people of the United States, in the shape of a tax on imports, or some other subject, to the same amount. Now, Sir, I ask, Is it not clear, if a State should receive by its distributive share a less sum than the people of that State would have to pay in taxes to supply the deficit, that it would be, on their part, foolish to support the distribution ? So, again, if they should receive the same
, amount they paid instead of a less, would it not be idle ? And if more, would it not be unjust ? Can any one deny
these conclusions? How, then, can a scheme, which implies the one or the other of these alternatives (laying aside all other weighty objections), have any chance to be adopted ? But two answers can be given. The one, that the States which would receive more from the distribution than their people would have to pay to make up the deficit, can outvote the others, and are prepared to act on the principle of the strong plundering the weak; and the other, that a majority of the States want the money to pay their debts or to spend in favorite schemes, and prefer shifting the responsibility of taxing to the General Government to assuming it. themselves, without regarding whether their people would contribute more or less than they may receive. They are afraid to lay taxes, lest the people should see the sums extracted from their pockets, and turn them out; and, to avoid this, would transfer the task to the General Government, because they can take from the people, through the tax on imports, without being detected as to the amount.
I take the opportunity, before I sit down, to tender my thanks for the honorable and high-minded suggestion of the Senator from Missouri (IIr. Linn), considering the interior quarter of the Union from which he comes, to set apart the proceeds of the lands as a permanent fund for the navy. .
[Mr. Linn, in an audible voice: “The navy and the defences of the country."]
I would rejoice to see such a disposition of it, and do hope that he will move an amendment to that effect. I would gladly receive it as a modification of my amendment, and would regard it as a great improvement. The navy, Sir, is the right arm of our defence, and is equally important to every section—the North and South, the East and West, inland and seaboard. When I look at the condition of our country, and the world, I feel that too earnest and too early attention cannot be bestowed on the arm of defence on
which the country must mainly rely, not only for sustaining its just weight and influence in the scale of nations, but also for protection.
On the Bill to distribute the proceeds of the Public
Lands, delivered in the Senate, January 23d, 1841.
[In Senate, January 23d, 1841.—On the amendment proposed by Mr. Crittenden to the Pre-emption Bill, to distribute the proceeds of the public lands among the States.]
Mr. Calhoun said, that the proposition of the Senator from Kentucky (Mr. Crittenden), to distribute the proceeds of the sales of the public lands among the several States was no stranger in this Chamber. His colleague (Mr. Clay) had introduced it many years since, when he was in the opposition, and had often pressed its passage as an opposition measure, and once with success, while the treasury was groaning under the weight of a surplus revenue, of which Congress was willing to free it on almost any terms. It was then vetoed by General Jackson, and has had to contend ever since against the resistance of his and the present administration.
But it is now, for the first time, introduced under different auspices, not as an opposition but an administration measure—a ineasure of the coming administration, if we may judge from indications that can scarcely deceive. It is brought in by a Senator, who, if rumor is to be credited, is selected as a member of the new cabinet (Mr. Crittenden), backed by another in the same condition (Mr. Webster),