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and what does not belong to individual chain of trading posts, belonging to the Britproprietors, belongs to the state. Thus in ish North-West Company, extends through Maine there is a considerable portion of this region, to the mouth of the Columbia land belonging to the states of Massachu- river. It is also visited by hunters from setts and Maine, and, in Georgia, large the U. States, but in numbers far less than tracts in the occupation of the Cherokce those from the British colonies. The InIndians are claimed by the government dian title to this whole fourth belt of land of that state. The general government remains unextinguished ; and the soil of possesses no land in any of the Atlantic that part of it lying east of the Rocky states, except small portions which have mountains, is supposed, for the most part,
been ceded for forts, dock-yards, arsenals, to be too sterile to become the residence E and other like national purposes.
The of civilized man. The title to these lands second belt of land westward compre- was the subject of the first great political hends the new states and territories of the controversy that divided the opinions of l'nion, in all of which, except Kentucky, the citizens of the U. States, after the decthere are considerable, in most of them laration of independence. The ancient large, tracts of public domain ; these states charters of several of the states extended having been formed since the revolution, from sea to sea, or indefinitely to the west. and their population settled on lands They consequently crossed each other, either purchased of the U. States, or still and threw the same territory into the belonging to them. The number of per- limits of different states. This was one sons of the latter class who thus occupy, source of dissension; and another was, without title, lands still belonging to the that, as the greatest part of the western U. States, is very large, exceeding, in region was wholly unsettled, and the war some cases, that of the persons who have was carried on at the common charge, it acquired titles. They have, however, was deemed unjust by those states whose
generally settled themselves with the pur- western boundary was ascertained, that #pose of eventually purchasing the land. they should have no interest or share in
The third belt lies westward of the organ- the vacant lands. The discontent of Maized states and territories. It compre- ryland on this subject was so great that hends lands acquired by the Louisiana she refused to come into the confederatreaty, and of which the Indian title has tion, and delayed the ratification of that been extinguished by treaties with several instrument of government till 1781; and tribes of Indians. As there is no organ- when she finally acceded to it, did so with ized civil government, there is no white a reservation of her rights. The serious population in this region, except hunters controversies on this subject were put at and vagrants. On the southern portion rest by several acts of cession, made by of this district
, west of the territory of Ar- the states interested to the U. States. New kansas and the state of Missouri, the tribes York set the example, by an act passed of Indians removed from the Atlantic on the 1st of March, 1781. Virginia folstates, have been, or are proposed to be, lowed, on the 1st of March, 1784, and her established. The fourth belt compre- cession was deemed of the greatest imporhends all the remaining district to the tance, as her claim extended over a vast Pacific ocean. It lies on both sides of the region (the territory north-west of the Rocky mountains. The U. States have Ohio), and had been strengthened by the acquired the title to it by the Louisiana military efforts of the colonial government treaty (see Louisiana), by the discovery of Virginia to protect the territory against of the coast, and by interior exploration. the French in the former wars. MassaThe title, however, to that part of this chusetts ceded her claim on the 19th of region which is west of the Rocky April, 1785, and Connecticut hers on the mountains, is contested by Great Britain. 13th of September, 1786. By these sevGreat Britain claims, not that the title is eral acts of cession, the U. States acquired in her, but that the region is unappropri- an undisputed title to the territory northated, and open to the first comer. By west of the Ohio. Out of this territory a convention concluded in 1828, to last have been formed the states of Ohio, Intwelve years, it was agreed between the diana and Illinois, the territory of Michil'. States and Great Britain, that neither gan, and an extensive territory west of it, government would take possession of it or which it has already been proposed in occupy it, to the exclusion of the other, dur- congress to organize under a separate ing the period of the convention, which territorial government. Connecticut, in either party might renounce, on giving making her cession, retained a consideratwelve months' notice to the other. Å ble district in Ohio, known by the name
of the “Western (or Connecticut) Re- Purchase of Louisiana, 15,000,000 serve,” which was finally ceded to the
Do. Florida, 5,000,000 U. States in 1800, and by the U. States to Expenses of surveying 140 Ohio. The foundation of the ample
millions of acres, .. 2,164,000 school-fund of Connecticut was laid in Do. incidental to the sales of the proceeds of this reserved tract. North public lands, up to June Carolina made a cession of the tract of 30, 1828,
.. 1,435,197 country now forming the state of Tennessee, in 1789. It was subject to a great
$33,667,576 variety of claims, described in the act of cession. In 1806, congress ceded to Ten- Since the date to which these compatanessee a considerable part of the public tions are brought, large expenditures bave land in that state. The title to the residue been made, and much larger ones may be is still vested in the U. States, but no land- expected to be incurred in extinguishing office has ever been opened by the gen- the Indian title to lands in Georgia, Aiaeral government in this state, nor have the bama and Mississippi. The public lands public lands been surveyed and brought were very early looked to as a source into market. It has been represented to of revenue to the country. As early congress that all the valuable portions of as 1776, Silas Deane, then a political then have been long settled, and attempts and commercial agent of the [. (hitherto unsuccessful) have been made, States in France, communicated to conof late years, to obtain a donation of them, gress a plan for the sale and settlement or a sale of them on very easy terms, to of the territory north-west of the Ohio,* the actual settlers. South Carolina ceded and, as has been already observed, the her claiins to western lands by an act of calculations of the future value of this her state government of 1787. The ces- region formed the first great subject of sion of Georgia alone was needed for the collision between the several states of the amicable adjustment of this great contro- confederacy. It was, however, a long versy. This took place, after a series of time before an effective system was dehighly embarrassing transactions, in 1802, vised, by which the lands could be thrown when a compact was entered into between open to settlement, or made available for the U. States and Georgia, by which the the purpose of revenue. Bounty-lands latter ceded to the U. States all her claim having been promised, by the continenti to the lands west of the present western congress, to the officers and soldiers of boundary of Georgia, and the U. States the continental army, it became necessary contracted to extinguish the Indian title to redeem that pledge as early as possibl. east of that line, as soon as it could be The controversies between the serera done peaceably and on reasonable states, and between them and the [. terms.” On the tract of land to which States, retarded, for some time, the fulfGeorgia thus ceded her claim, the states ment of this pledge. On the twentiet: of Alabama and Mississippi have been of May, 1785, an ordinance was passed formed. The expenditure directly inci- by the congress of the confederation, ki dent to the acquisition of the public lands ascertaining the mode of disposing of may be stated as follows: but it must be lands in the Western Territory; and this recollected that other public objects, of the was the first act of general legislation ou highest moment, have been affected by the subject. This act may be found in those treaties with Indian tribes and for the new edition of the Land Laws, p. 34 eign powers by which the various cessions Under it, very limited sales were maita, of land have been attained. The Indian not amounting, in the whole, to more than treaties have been frequently treaties of 121,540 acres. In addition to these sales pacification as well as territorial acquisi- there were three considerable sales - Lv tion; and the political advantages of the special contract,” as it was called. The Louisiana and Florida treaties vastly out- first was of “the Triangle," a tract of land weigh, in importance, the mere value of on lake Erie. This tract was ceded to the land acquired.
Pennsylvania, September 4, 1788. It coe
sisted of 202,187 acres, and $157,640 sExpenses of Indian treaties,
crued from the sale. The next sale was from 1776 to 1826, . . . . $3,868,379 to the “Ohio Land Company," of a trad: Payment to Georgia, under
of land on the Ohio and Muskingur the compact of 1802, ... 1,250,000 rivers, originally intended to iuclude into Do. on account of Yazoo
* Diplomatic Correspondence of the Retail Scrip,
4,950,000 Lion, vol. I, p. 79.
millions of acres, but afterwards reduced vided. The fractional sections, which conby agreement to rather less than one mil- tain one hundred and sixty acres and uplion. The price of these lands was two wards, are subdivided in such manner as thirds of a dollar an acre, receivable in to preserve the most compact and conevidences of the public debt. The Ohio venient forms. A series of contiguous Company commenced the settlement of the townships, laid off from north to south, is state of Ohio in 1788. The third of these called a range. The ranges are numbered sales was also in Ohio, to John Cleves north and south from the base or standard Symmes, of the tract of land between the line, running due east and west. They Great and Little Miami rivers, eventually are counted from the standard meridian reduced to 248,540 acres. On the tenth of east and west. The superintendence of May, 1800, an act of congress was passed, the surveys is committed to five surveyorslaying the foundation of the land system, general. One thirty-sixth part of all the as it now exists. It has received several lands surveyed, being section number sixinodifications at subsequent periods, two teen in each township, is reserved from of which are of great importance, and sale, for the support of schools in the will presently be stated. Under this law, township, and other reservations have the substantial features of the land system been made for colleges and universities. of the U. States, are the following: - All salt springs and lead mines are also All the lands, before they are offered for reserved, and are subject to be leased sale, are surveyed on a rigilly accurate plan, under the direction of the president of at the expense of the government. The the U. States. The government has surveys of the public Tands of the U. generally found it expedient to authorize States are founded upon a series of true the surveying of forty townships of land meridians. The first principal meridian annually, in each land districi, so as to is in Ohio, the second in Indiana, the admit of two sales by public auction anthird in Illinois, &c., each forming the nually, of twenty townships each. The base of a series of surveys, of which the general land office at Washington is lines are made to correspond, so that the under the superintendence of an officer, whole country is at last divided into called “commissioner of the general land squares of one mile each, and townships office." It is subordinate to the treasury of six miles each; and these subdivisions departinent. The public lands are laid are distributed with mathematical accu- off into districts, in each of which there is a racy into parallel ranges. The greatest land office, under the superintendence of division of land marked out by the survey two officers, appointed by the president is called a township, and contains 23,040 and senate, called the "register of the land acres, being six English or American office, and the receiver of public monmiles square,
The township is subdi- eys." There are at present forty-two land vided into thirty-six equal portions or offices. The register and the receiver square miles, by lines crossing each other each receive a salary of five hundred dolat right angles. These portions are called lars per annum, and a commission of one sections. The section contains 640 acres, per cent. on the moneys paid into their and is subdivided jpto four arts, called office. Till 1820, a credit was allowed on quarter-sections, each of which, of course, all purchases of public lands. In consecontains one hundred and sixty acres. quence of this system, large quantities of The quarter-sections are finally divided land had been purchased on speculation; into two parts, called half quarter-sections, and also, in the ordinary course of purof eighty acres each, and this is the small- chases, a vast amount of land-debt to the est regular subdivision known to the sys- government had been contracted. To retrm. The sectional and quarter-sectional lieve the embarrassed condition of these divisions are designated by appropriate debtors, an act was passed, authorizing the marks in the field, which are of a char relinquishment of lands purchased, and acter to be easily distinguished from each substituting cash payments for the credit other. The half quarter-sections are not system. The most beneficial effects have inarked in the field, but are designated on resulted from this change, apart from the the plot of the survey, by the surveyor-gen- relief of those who were indebted to the eral marking the distance on one of the government. At the same time the miniascertained lines, in order to get the quan- mum price of the land was reduced from uity of such balf quarter-sections as ex- two dollars to one dollar and twenty-five hibited by bis plot of survey. The frac- cents an acre. In the first instance, the tional sections which contain less than one public lands are offered for sale, under hundred and sixty acres are not subdi- proclamations of the president, by public auction, with the limitation of the mini- q. v.) we gave some account of the Roman mum rate. Lands not thus sold are after- agrarian laws, the name of which has wards subject to entry, at private sale, long been familiar to every reader, aland at the minimum price. A very large though their real character has, until the amount of public land is in the occupa- investigations of Mr. Niebuhr, whose tion of persons
who have settled upon it death every scholar deeply deplores, been without title. This is frequently done in much misunderstood. We there observed consequence of unavoidable delays in also, that the republic of the U. States, bringing the land into market, and not like that of Rome, had been much occufrom any intention, on the part of the set- pied in legislating on the subject of its tler, to delay payment. Laws have been public lands; and that, as laws bad been passed, granting to settlers of this descrip- made in sonie of the states of the Union, tion a preëmptive right in the acquisition bearing a considerable resemblance to the of a tiile, that is, the preference over all agrarian laws of Rome, we should make other persons in entering the land at pri- some further remarks upon the subject in vate sale. These laws afford the actual the present article. The nature of this settler no protection against those who work, as we then observed, forbids the might choose to over-bid him at the pub- full developement of a subject which parlic sales ; but it is believed that in most takes so much of a legal investigation as cases, by mutual agreement anong pur- this does; but we think some illustrations chasers, the actual settler is enabled to ob- derived from our laws, and the peculiar tain his land, even at public sale, at the circumstances of our new country, wil minimum price. It is stated, however, not be unacceptable. The laws and practhat great injury is done to the settlers, by tice of the state of Massachusetts will combinations of land speculators, who in- afford sufficient materials for our purpose. fest the public sales, purchasing the lands This state has always owned a large body at the minimum price, and compelling of public lands, situate in that part of its bona fide settlers to take them at an en- original territory which pow constitutes : hanced valuation. Should the settler re- separate state, called the state of Maine
. fuse such an agreement, the speculators These lands, both from the necessities of enter into competition with him at the sale. the state government and the usual operu On the whole it would appear, that, on an tions of capitalists, became an object of average, the government obtains but the speculation. They were accordinglysoit minimum price for its lands, although the by the state, from time to time, in large quantity actually sold and occupied, being tracts, to capitalists and speculators, when the choice of the whole quantity brought in general, resided in Massachusetts Proper into market, is of course worth much more. (as it was called before the separation of Five per cent. on all the sales of public Maine), at a great distance from the lands lands within the states severally, is re- thus purchased by them. Their landa served ; three-fifths of which are to be being thus entirely out of their view and expended by congress, in making roads control, were of course continually inleading to the states ; and two-fifths to be truded upon, and possession taken, here expended by the states in the encourage- and there, o. parcels of them by emigrana ment of learning. The first part of this res- from the more populous towns, who put ervation has been expended on the Cuniber- them under cultivation, and erected borbe land road ; and the treasury of the U. States and other buildings upon them for the colois greatly in advance to that fund, on ac- mon purposes of agriculture. These uhcount of this public work. It appears that, authorized settlers have been familiaris up to the present time, about 150 millions called by the cant term squatters, a name of acres of the public lands have been sur- naturally derived from the act of setting veyed. Of these, thirty millions have not upon lands in the manner practised by been proclaimed for sale ; twenty millions them. By the lapse of time the mere have been sold, and as much more grant- possession of these settlers, without sur ed by congress for education, internal im- legal title to the land, ripened into whis provement, and other purposes. There they considered to be a right, although the are, then, 110 millions of acres surveyed, proprietors of the soil were, in gener but not sold; eighty millions of which are wholly ignorant of such occupation of in the market, ready for entry at the mini- their property. At length, after a lon mum price, and thirty millions subject to series of years, it became impossible to be proclaimed for sale whenever there is dispossess them, however wrongful theu a demand.
possession, in its origin, may have been In a former article (Agrarian Laws, It is true that the proprietors might
did institute legal processes, and recovered should have a right to claim an allowance judgment in our courts against the occu- for the value of the improvements which pants; but still the officers of justice he had made upon the land thus occupied could not execute the sentence of the law by him, and which were called in the and dislodge them from their possession. Roman law, meliorationes, or melioramenta, Instances not unfrequently occurred, and, by analogy, in the popular language where the officers of justice and the pro- of New England, betterments.* Our law, prietors themselves, or their agents, were however, did not, like the Roman, make shot at, or suffered other acts of violence any distinction between the occupant who from the occupants. In this critical exi- did, and him who did not know that the gency, which threatened so much mis- land was the private property of an indichief to the public as well as individuals, vidual. Notwithstanding the supposed and which was perhaps exaggerated by injustice of the law, it has remained in those men who wished to avail themselves operation, with some amendments, to the of the occasion to obtain popularity for present day; and the lapse of time is daily political purposes, it was thought neces- rendering it less and less unequal and insary by the legislature of Massachusetts jurious in its effects. In practice, its ope(in the year 1808) to pass a law, which ration was the more unequal as respected was in effect, to a certain extent, similar the proprietor of the land, from another to the Roman agrarian laws, by depriving circumstance; for he, being usually a the real proprietor of a portion of his non-resident or stranger, and the occupant rights and transferring them to the wrong- being an inhabitant of the same territory ful possessor of the lands sold by the pub- from which the jury was taken, who were lic. To make the subject intelligible to to try the question of right between the persons who are not conversant with our parties, the proprietor was in the more laws, it should be observed, that under danger of suffering injustice from the our former laws and usages, a title to land prejudice or hostility of the jury. But by mere occupancy, could not be acquired here again the law interposed å useful by a possession short of sixty years. But check, which was, that no person who by the law of 1808, this term was short- was interested in a similar question, should ened to forty years. So far, therefore, as be a member of the jury. It is unnecesit affected those persons who had previ- sary to go further into ihe details of this ously purchased, either of the state or of law. In its origin and principle it was an others holding under the state, its opera- agrarian law, though in a more mitigated tion was manifestly unjust. It compelled form than those which caused such viothe proprietors to relinquish at once their lent commotions in ancient Rome. A claim to all that portion of their lands little reflection will enable us to reconcile which they had been dispossessed of for some differences in respect to the Roman more than forty years, and which they laws, about whicb there has been some had purchased at the full value, under the confusion, even since Mr. Niebubr gave his faith of the ancient law of sixty years' pos- new views of them. Some readers have session. This essential change in the le- inferred from his language, perhaps in itgal rights of the proprietors, in violation self
too unqualified, that the agrarian laws of what they deemed to be the fair intent of Rome only affected the public lands, and meaning of their contracts, caused and that there was no violation of private much excitementand dissatisfaction among rights an opinion quite inconsistent with them. In a very general view, it may be the strong remark of Cicero (De Offic. said that there was evidently a hardship ii
, 21), quoted in the article Agrarian on both sides ; it was not equitable on the Laws." From a consideration of our own one hand, that the proprietor should be laws respecting public lands, we can easily Heprived of his land, nor on the other, see how the private rights of purchasers chat an innocent occupant, who had been under the government and their sub-pursuffered to remain in possession for thirty chasers, might be invaded by mere occuor forty years, undisturbed by the propri- pants, who should settle without permisptor, should be suddenly expelled and sion upon the lands of those purebasers; stripped of the fruits of the labor of a and after such wrongful possession had whole life. By way of alleviating the continued for a number of years, it would difficulties of the case, it was provided in the same law (1808), agreeably to a well
* This term was introduced because the word known principle of the Roman code, that improvement, which might have been taken 10 when the proprietor should institute a familiarly used in New England in the sense
convey the idea of melioramenta, was already process to recover his land, the occupant of occupation.