페이지 이미지

It ceases to surprise that the United States, as a confederacy, has attained to a commercial prominence that places it in the first rank of the nations of the globe, and promises, in a few years, to acquire even greater importance; but it it particularly a striking fact, that the new states west of the Ohio and Mississippi, which, until as late as 1845, continued to import through the ports of the Atlantic, now conduct a foreign traffic on their own account, and have opened their harbours to admit the vessels of distant governments through the medium of our magnificent rivers and lakes. These facts are worthy of remark; and further, that the southern Atlantic and Gulf states, so long dependent on the ports of NewYork, Boston and Philadelphia, have pushed forward their enterprise, until New Orleans may justly claim to be the fifth maritime city of the world, and Charleston, Savannah, Richmond and Mobile, in a fair way to achieve that reputation, as mercantile cities, which is their natural due.

We regret that our limits will not suffer us to take up, or pursue at present, any one of the score of interesting and instructive topics of which this copious and laborious volume is suggestive. It only remains to us to pay a passing compliment to the skill, knowledge and great industry of its editor, Professor De Bow. This gentleman was evidently born in a world of figures; and if there be any sign in the heavens, exercising a planetary influence over statistician, that sign was lambent over his cradle in the hour of his nativity. His first vision was of railroads and the growth of cities; his first mental effort was directed to the measurement of canals, rivers and lines of telegraph. We suppose his next performances to have been a gratuitous census of his native city, and the distribution, under the several heads, of the several subjects of white and black, births and deaths, rich and poor, wise and simple. And so he has worked on, little by little, until now, when he finds it easy to take the two hemispheres between thumb and forefinger, and lift them up, and place them alongside of one another, in close contrast and comparison of all their several characteristics and peculiarities. More seriously, Professor De Bow devoted himself to the study of statistics, and with such a degree of industry and ability, as to rank second to none in the country, in the department which he has undertaken. His statistical experience fits him eminently for the business of the census bureau, and as an auxiliary to the home department of state. His labours on the seventh census fully justify his selection for this useful and laborious office. His information is the natural fruit of his employment, for ten years, in the editorial charge of one of the leading statistical journals in the country. He seems to have brought it all to bear in the execution of this important work. The public, who were familiar with his more elaborate volumes, published a year or two ago, upon the "Industrial Resources of the South and West," were prepared to expect much from his labours in the cen

Bus office, and they have not heen disappointed. He has devoted himself assiduously to his duties; and, so far as the present volume is concerned, completed them in a much shorter period, and at greatly less expense, than was anticipated by those who were familiar with the condition and duties of the office. He has yet to prepare another edition of this work, in smaller size, better suited for popular use, and for a place in the popular library. In this latter work, he is to condense the materials of the present, and when this is done, the public at large will be better prepared to understand and to appreciate, the great extent and importance of his labours. Of these, we have spoken in language of well merited praise, with the smallest glance at this publication will suffice to justify.

Article VII.

From the Report of John Wilson, Commissioner.

Public Lands.

Pre-emption Laws-education Endowments-railroad Grants.

The extension, by the act of 3d March last, of the pre-emption privilege to the alternate reserved sections alone the lines of railroads, and to lands previously reserved on account of claims under French, Spanish, or other grants, which have been or hereafter shall be declared invalid by the Supreme Court of the United States, has enabled many of the settlers on such lands to secure their homes. An amendment should be made to this act, however, to exclude from its provisions all such lands as may be needed for public uses. A further extension, however, of the general pre-emption law, would seem to be necessary to render evenhanded justice to all. By the sixth section of the act of 3d March last, the unsurveyed lands in California, with certain exceptions, and on specified conditions, were made subject to pre-emption. There is no reason of policy or propriety why this provision, with several limitations and conditions, should not be extended to all the land States. Too much cannot be said of the energy and enterprise of this class of our people. They are the pioneers of civilization and Christianity. They have pressed forward from theAlleghanies to the Pacific, opening roads, bridging the streams, felling the forests, and cultivating the prairies. Before them the wild beasts of the forest have passed away, and, like a bulwark, they have stood in front of their less daring and adventurous fellow-citizens, who have followed on and peopled the countries thus opened up for them. It is, then, but a small gratuity for each services that they shall be permitted to purchase their homes at the government price, without competing with speculators for the fruits of their own toil, hardships, and privations. It is therefore earnestly recommended that this extension be accorded to them.

I beg to advert to a recommendation heretofore made, of a grant of land for educational purposes in this District. Here, under the fostering care ef the government, model schools could be founded, for imparting instruction in literature, mechanics and agriculture, and civil institutions established, on the plan of the Military and Naval academies, in which improvements in every branch of the arts could be tested and brought successfully into use; and where, in fact, youths from all parts of the country could be prepared to act as instructors in these useful and important branches, and thus disseminate throughout the land the beneSts of scientific education.

Athorough knowledge of agricultural chemistry, especially when combined with geology, mineralogy, and metallurgy, would enable the farmers and planters of our country to develop the whole wealth of their respective regions, frequently at inconsiderable expense, causing barren lands to produce abundant crops, and withdrawing from their secret recesses in the bosom of the earth, the mineral treasures deposited therein.

The citizens of the District look to Congress for that assistance, in these particulars, which others receive from the legislatures of the States; and the means of disseminating science and useful information, thus established here, would advance the best interests of the country at large, and materially aid in perpetuating the blessings of civil and religious liberty.

The great increase in sales and locations of land for the last fiscal year, and in the third quarter of the current calendar year, mentioned in a former part of this report, has occurred in those States where railroads have been projected and grunts made for them, or where such works are in contemplation, ,or by the proposed construction of the Sault Ste. Marie canal. As evidence of this fact, I would state that the lands withdrawn from sale in Illinois, to enable that State to select those granted to her by the act of 20th September, 1850, were again brought into market in July, August, and September, 1852, deducting, of course, the 2,595,053 acres selected by her under that grant. During the fiscal year ending the 30th June last,

in that State there were sold for cash 298,861 acres.

Located with land warrants 2,509,120"

Total 2,807,981 acres.

Being about one and a quarter million more than all the lands sold (excluding the locations of warrants,) during the preceding fiscal year, in all the land States and Territory. This increase would no doubt have been greater if the main body of these lands had been in market in the beginning of the last fiscal year, which waa

[graphic][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][ocr errors][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed]

1852, were withdrawn from market on the foliowing day. Aa those roads had not then been located, these reservations were made more extensive than the lateral lines mentioned in the act, to enable the State to select the best route for each. The excess outside the fifteen-mile limits, ascertained after the survey of the roads, was restored to market on the 5th July, 1853, and hence could only affect the sales for the third quarter of that year. The following statement shows the amount of land sold during that quarter of the three preceding years, in each district:

[blocks in formation]

Here, although the lands sold were fifteen miles or more from the route of the road, the increase has been very great; and I have no doubt, when the alternate sections within six miles, and those between the six and fifteen mile limits, are brought into market, that the increase will be equal to that of Illinois.

In Mississippi the sales have been very limited for several years. On the 20th September, 1850, the lands in Augusta and Columbus districts, along the proposed route of the Central railroad from Chicago, in Illinois, to Mobile, in Alabama, were withdrawn from market, and were not again thrown open to entry until the 26th September, 1853, for the Augusta district, and 19th September, 1853, for the Columbus district. In the former district there were but five days left in that month for sales to be made, and in the latter twelve days. The September return being the last received from those districts, I have caused a comparison to be made between sales for that month in 1853, and for the same month in the four preceding years, and the result is as follows, to wit:

Augusta, September, 1849 424.95 acres.

Augusta, September, 1850 311.47"

Augusta, September, 1851 40.65"

Augusta, September, 1852 2.48"

Augusta, September, 1853 19,530.47"

These 19,530 acres, at $1.25 per acre, would amount to $24,413.09; but the actual amount received was $34,056.78, making an increase over the ordinary minimum of $9,643 69.

In the Columbus district this comparison is as follows, to wit:

[merged small][table]

In the Sault Ste. Marie district, in Michigan, the entries for the second and third quarters of 1852 amount to 40,689.65 acres; and, for the second and third quarters of 1853, to 89,073.81 acres.

This great and extraordinary increase in the amount of lands disposed of in these several sections of the country, remote from each other, can only be accounted for by the improvements referred to: in fact, so great is the increase in the value of lands, that land warrants and land scrip are nearly up to the par or face value. If, then, no other reason existed for such grants, this one, on the score of sound economy, would be sufficient. Many of these lands, however, have been in market long enough for the interest to amount to much more than the principal; and during all this period the States were deprived of the right and benefit of taxa

« 이전계속 »