United States. Congress.

Abridgment of the Debates of Congress, from 1789 to 1856. From Gales and Seatons' Annals of Congress; from their Register of debates; and from the official reported debates, by John C. Rives online

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Online LibraryUnited States. CongressAbridgment of the Debates of Congress, from 1789 to 1856. From Gales and Seatons' Annals of Congress; from their Register of debates; and from the official reported debates, by John C. Rives → online text (page 33 of 187)
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same time, opened offices for the sale of the
residue of her vacant lands, embraced in a ter-
ritory extending east and west four or five
hundred miles, without any regular plan or de-
sign. The plan of laying off the country into
ranges, townships, and sections, was not
thought of, and if such plan had been ever so
well matured, it would have been impractica-
ble, by reason of the exposed condition of the
country. The military district was laid off un-
der the protection of a strong military guard,
and this being accomplished, the soldier and
the citizen went forth into the heart of the
wUderness, in small parties, or alone, as pru-
dence or interest dictated, and at the hazard of
their lives each selected the particular spot of
earth which pleased his fancy ; and if he was
so fortunate as to escape the aim of the Indian
who waylaid his path, he returned into the set-
tlements, and in the proper office caused a brief
description of the land he had selected to be
entered. Upon this issued what was called a
warrant of survey, which was transferable, and
entitled the holder to have the specific quantity
of land called for on the face of it, surveyed
and granted to him in some part of the coun-
try, whether the land originally selected was
ever afterwards found or not. As the country
advanced in population, various occupant and
pre-emption rights were secured by law to the
settlers. Other causes of irregularity and un-
certainty existed. As no two men would be
likely to give a similar description of the same
piece of land, it unavoidably happened, in hun-
dreds of instances, that the same piece of land
was covered by the entries or incipient claims
of many individuals. When the country be-
came accessible to a permanent population, and



Apkil, 1828.]

Lani Claims in Tennessee.

[H. OF E.

tribunals were established for tbe investigation
of titles, it was but just that those who lost
their lands by the prior claims of others, should
be permitted to take lands elsewhere in the
same territory. The officers and soldiers too,
who had claims for boimties, came forward at
u-regular and distant periods, and when it was
ascertained that the district allotted to them was
not of sufficient extent to satisfy their claims,
the whole of the residue of the country was
thrown open to them likewise. Thus, although
the whole of any of the great natural divisions
of the territory would not be likely to be ap-
propriated, yet detached, irregular, and shape-
less parcels and masses were culled out and set
apart in every quarter where good lands pre-
sented themselves. Under such a system of
appropriation as I have described, and carried
on under the circumstances I have mentioned,
gentlemen will readily see and acknowledge
the monstrous irregularities, uncertainty, and
confusion, which must and did attend its opera-
tion. Although the law provided, in general
terms, that location and surveys should be
made in regular right-angled figures, yet, from
• the causes I have mentioned, one who has any
knowledge of the manner in which that coun-
try was cut up and parcelled out, would sup-
pose that the law had annexed a penalty to all
surveys of regular form and figure, instead of
enjoining such form. Such was the condition
of the territory ; and, subject to the satisfac-
tion of a mass of floating and unsettled claims,
of uncertain amount and extent, did Congress
accept the cession from North Carolina.

But the evils I have described did not cease
here. Congress, by the terms of the cession,
had no right to interfere in the appropriation
of the vacant lands of the territory, irntU all
the claims with which it was encumbered
should be first satisfied. The right to do this,
North Carolina reserved to herself exclusively,
and without any limit as to the time within
which it would be done. This right she con-
tinued to exercise in the same irregular man-
ner I have described, not only during the ex-
istence of the territorial Government which
was established there, but for ten years after
Tennessee was admitted into the Union as an
incipient member of the Confederacy. Thus
the anomaly occurred, of one State, of merely
co-ordinate sovereignty in every thing else, ap-
pointing officers, keeping up offices, and con-
trolling their operation in a sister State, the
sole duties and business of which concerned
the management and disposition of the soil — of
that which is of the very essence of sovereignty.
What rendered the whole system more complex
and embarrassing to the State of Tennessee,
was that the United States continued to be the
paramount owners of any part of the country
which might remain unappropriated after the
North Carolina claims should be satisfied.
Complaints were heard upon this floor, from
the Representatives of other States, that in the
struggle on the part of North Carolina to se-

cure to her citizens, to whom she had sold
lands prior to the cession, the choice of the
best lands, wheresoever situated ; and a corre-
sponding effort, on the part of Tennessee, to
protect her own citizens in their occupant
rights, who had pushed their settlements into
every corner where the lands invited by their
fertility, and which were not interfered with
by Indian reservations, the United States were
likely to be deprived of every part of the in-
heritance except barren hills and mountains.
Such a state of things could not long exist,
without producing serious and dangerous col-
lisions, and, in 1805, to such a height had the
opposite feelings and interests of the contend-
ing parties blown these elements of strife, that
all became sensible of the necessity of adopting
some plan better calculated to secure to each
the rights respectively set up and insisted upon.
The conviction of this necessity produced the
compromise which is to be found in the act of
Congress of 1806, chap. 81. Congress, by that
act, with the consent of North Carolina, con-
ferred upon the State of Tennessee the right to
issue grants, and to satisfy the outstanding
claims of North Carolina, in her own way;
but this power was given to Tennessee upon
the express condition, that the country which
lies between the Mississippi and Tennessee
Rivers, including a considerable tract of coun-
try lying east of the Tennessee, as it flows-
north through the western sections of the
State, should not be encroached upon for tho
satisfaction of the North Carolina claims, until
all the country lying east and not included in
this reservation, should be first exhausted.
This was the first point of time at which the
United States acquired any right to interfere in
the appropriation of the soil of Tennessee, and
Congress availed itself of this right, to comply
with the stipalation to provide the means of
education, and required the State of Tennessee,
as a further condition of the cession which was
made to that State by the act of 1806, of all
the lands lying east and north of the district I
have already described, that six hundred and
forty acres should be reserved in every six
mUes square of the lands ceded by that act for
the use of schools. Tennessee, from this time
forward, took upon herself the burthen of in-
troducing some order into the plan of making
appropriations for the satisfaction of the great
variety of claims which had sprung out of the
North Carolina system ; and from the year
1806 up to this day, one-half— I believe I would
not be far wrong, to say two-thirds — of the
whole legislation of that State has been em-
ployed upon this subject. Her first step was
to lay_ off the country into ranges and sections
of six miles square, and to provide that the
lands directed to be reserved for the use of
schools by the act of Congress, should be set
apart for that purpose ; but by reason of for-
mer appropriations, in an extent of country in
which upwards of four hundred thousand acres
would have been the proportion of school lands



H. OF B.]

Affcdrs with Brazil.

[April, 1828.

agreeably to the provisions of the act of Con-
gress, not more than above thirty-five thousand
are reserved. In many large and populous
counties, not a, single tract was or could be
found fit for cultivation, and not already

In 1818, Congress became satisfied that the
country lying east and north of the reservation
line established by the act of 1806, did not
afford vacant lands sufficient for the satisfac-
tion of the Korth Carolina claims ; and by an
act passed in that year, the country lying south
and west of that line was placed at the dispo-
sal of the State of Tennessee, for their final
extinguishment. It should not be forgotten,
by those who wish to form any thing like a
correct estimate of the value and extent of that
part of the national domain which lies in Ten-
nessee, that in the only district in which the
United States own one foot of land, large ap-
propriations, say of between three and four
millions of acres, of the best lands, ha^ been
made by North Carolina, under the same irreg-
ular system I have before described, prior to
the cession of 1790. When this part of the
country was again thrown open for the satis-
faction of the North Carolina claims, by the
act of 1818, it was then, but, a remnant of a
country which once presented the choicest
spoils to the grasp of the warrant-holder. But
now, since it has been exposed to a second vis-
itation of locators, surveyors, and professed
land speculators — ^with claims in their hands of
between one and two millions of acres in
amount, and skilled by thirty years of experi-
ence in detecting the best lands, wheresoever
situated — in the plains, between the spurs of
hUls and mountains, or upon the margin of
creeks and rivers, the residue of tillable lands
can neither be considerable in extent nor valu-
able in quality, and it is this residue which is
now asked to be relinquished. In the section
of country under consideration, not one acre
has been reserved for the use of schools.

J.n whatever of argument I have advanced in
support of the present application, it will be
observed that I have placed it upon the ground
of right. But independently of any obligation
on the part of Congress, to provide for the
maintenance of public schools in Tennessee,
the relinquishment which is sought may be
pressed upon other grounds, addressing them-
selves equally to the justice of Congress. All
that the State of Tennessee has received from
the sale of lands heretofore ceded by Congress,
in the eastern and middle sections of the State,
and all that the most prudent management of
her legislature and officers can glean from the
sale of the mere scraps of good land, now
asked to be ceded to her, would not more than
compensate for the protracted and expensive
legislation which has attended the settlement
and satisfaction of that torrent of claims which
has continued to pour in upon her from North
Carolina, for the last 20 or 30 years. A mil-
lion of doUars, paid directly from your Treas-

ury, would be but a poor remuneration for
having all the springs of improvement relaxed,
and all the sources of her strength diminished
and drained, by the most expensive, dilatoiy,
and vexatious litigation, that ever visited its
curses upon any people. Sir, if Congress had
taken upon itself the management and appro-
priation of the vacant lands in the territory
ceded by North Carolina, as it did of the terri-
tory ceded by Virginia, long since would all
claim to every inch of the soil of Tennessee
have been gladly relinquished : and if no es-
cape could have been effected upon these terms,
from the continued calls which would have
been made for the interference of Congress, in
making new regulations, or revising the old
ones, in relation to these lands, an exemption
would have been purchased, and purchased
cheaply too, by giving an additional unincum-
bered territory from the great stock of the na-
tional domain to be distributed among the hun-
gry and often averse claimants, whose appetite
the State of Tennessee seems at length to have
allayed, with perhaps one or two exceptions,
without going beyond the bounds of her own
territory. I am sure, if the federal judiciary
had been drawn in to fix the construction of
all the laws Congress would have found it ne-
cessary to pass in relation to these lands, and
to settle all the controversies which would
have arisen under them, suitors of every other
description and from every other quarter would
have been blocked out of that tribunal for a
quarter of a century.

Wednesday, April 30.
Affairs with Brazil.

The resolution, offered on Monday, by Mr.
CoTiLTEE, of Pennsylvania, came up.

Mr. EvBEETT observed, that had he con-
cluded the remarks which he was yesterday
making, when the hour appropriated to this
kind of business expired, he should probably
have expressed his intention to waive his oppo-
sition to the passage of the resolution. Al-
though not requiring the information for his
own satisfaction, nor deeming the call, in refer-
ence to all its objects, whoUy regular, yet th^
doubts suggested by the gentleman who moved
the resolution, on the subject of our relations
with Brazil, had brought him to the conclu-
sion, that the resolution had better pass, with
a view of bringing before the House a fuU
statement of the real posture of our affairs in
that quarter, as far as existing negotiatiohs may
permit. Before he sat down, he begged leave
to correct an error, into which he had inadver-
tently fallen, in stating the time of the appoint-
ment of the present Charg6 d' Affaires at the
court of Brazil, which was not, of course, dur-
ing the last session of Congress, inasmuch as
Mr. Bagnet did not return to this country till
three or four months after the close of the ses-
sion. The error was of no moment to Mr. E.'s



Mat, 1828.]

Boundary Lines, Sfc,

[H. OF E.

course of argument, wMcli was strengthened
by thus reducing the time that had elapsed
since the appointment of the Oharg6 d' Affaires ;
he corrected it merely for the sake of ac-

Mr. OoTiLTEE, rising in reply, said that he
was so much gratified by learning that the gen-
tleman from Massachusetts would assent to the
resolution, that he could be contented to waive
all further discussion, and would only make an
observation or two by way of explanation,
which seemed to be called for by the remarks
which that gentleman had yesterday addressed
to the House. It was far from my intention,
said Mr. 0., at all to censure the Committee of
Foreign Eelations on the subject of their re-
port upon the memorial of Condy Eaguet. AH
I meant to convey was, that I was not quite
satisfied with the mode in which they arrived
at the conclusion to which they came on that
subject. Their report disclosed no facts which
could enable them to judge whether his con-
duct had been proper or otherwise. The com-
mittee appeared to have gone solely on the
ground that the President of the United States
did not disapprove of it. Sir, I am aware,
that, under the Governments of Europe, and
in England particularly, where the king is the
supreme fountain of honor, that aU the officers
of Government look to his approbation as their
highest reward, and appeal to it, in all emer-
gencies, as a full and complete vmdication.
But, in this country, there resides another sov-
ereign, to whose decision every citizen looks as
the highest that can be given. That sovereign
is the people of these United States ; but their
judgment can never be given in an enlightened
manner unless they are put in possession of the
facts, on which alone it can be made up. But,
though I do not censure the committee for their
report, yet I think that the oflScer in question
has some reason to be dissatisfied. The Presi-
dent, as the committee truly say, did not disap-
prove of his conduct ; but this is only a nega-
tive sort of approbation, and its value cannot
but be much impaired by the fact that a person
was appointed to succeed bim, even before he
returned to his country, or had any opportuni-
ty in person to give an account of his official
conduct. Still, sir, I am free to acknowledge
that my judgment, upon such case, can be but
of slight consideration indeed when set in op-
position to that of the Committee of Foreign
Eelations; and I well know that this House
win be justified, and so wiU the nation, in tak-
ing their opinion, in preference to mine. There
is one other observation of the gentleman from
Massachusetts, which I am bound to notice.
He stated, if I understand him correctly, that
my object appeared to be, to call in question
the ■ conduct of the President of the United
States in this affair. Sir, that was far from my
intention ; on the contrary, I only wished to
elicit information which might disencumber the
reputation of that Department from suspicion
or censure, if not deserved. I vished to draw

out the whole facts of the case ; and, sir, I
hope the time will never come when the Exec-
utive of this Union shall have his conduct im-
properly called in question, by a mere inquiry
as to what that conduct has been. The gentle-
man from Massachusetts appears to be confi-
dent, that, when aU the facts shall be disclosed,
no censure will attach to the President. If
that proves to be the case, I shall sincerely re-
joice, since I never desire to censure any one
without the requisite information as to what
his conduct has been. As these are topics con-
nected with the reputation of my Government,
and through that Government with the reputa-
tion of my country, I hope I shall not be con-
sidered as having travelled out of the record,
either in offering my resolution,' or in accompa-
nying it with the remarks which I have made.
The resolution was adopted.

Thuesdat, May 1.
LaTici Claims in Tennessee.

The House then proceeded to the considera-
tion of the Tennessee land bill.

Mr. WiOKLiFFE, after comparing the debate
yesterday on the part of the Eepresentatives
from Ohio and Tennessee, to a squabble between
two sisters as to the comparative value of their
patrimony, and expressing his belief, that a fur-
ther discussion of the bill could lead to no good
result, moved that it be laid upon the table.

On this motion, Mr. Conjstee asked the yeas
and nays, and being taken, they stood — yeas
131, nays 64.

Boundary Lines, &c.

On motion of Mr. SiEONa, the House then
went into Committee of the "Whole on the state
of the Union, Mr. Tatloe in the chair, and
took up the bill " for ascertaining the latitude
of the Southern Bend, or extreme of Lake
Michigan, and of certain other points, for the
purpose, thereafter, of fixing the true northern
boundary lines of the States of Ohio, Indiana,
and Illinois."

Mr. Steong briefly stated the object and the
necessity of this bill. After referring to the
controversy which had existed in relation to
this boundary line, he stated the ordinance of
1787, by which the southern extremity of Lake
Michigan was fixed upon as the point through
which a line east and west should be run, sep-
arating the northern from the southern sections
of the Northwestern Territory. It was, at
that time, supposed that such a line running
eastward, would cut Lake Erie somewhere be-
tween Detroit and the Miami Bay. Several
surveys had been made, but they did not agree.
He hence inferred the necessity of fixing, with
perfect accuracy, the latitude of the south ex-
tremity of Lake Michigan ; and also, the point
where that parallel of latitude would strike
Lake Erie. It was also necessary to ascertain
where the northern bound of Indiana would



H. OF E.]

Indian ^appropriations — Georgfia and North Carolina.

[May, 1828.

cut the Territory of Michigan, and it was of
yet more consequence, especially at this time,
to determine the true position of the north line
of Illinois. That State had been authorized to
go as far north on the left bank of Lake Michi-
gan, as 32 degrees, 30 minutes ; but very dif-
ferent opinions were held as to the precise
point where that parallel would strike the
Mississippi Eiver. Yet, this was a point very
necessary to be fixed, since that line passed
through, or very nearly approached, a district
of country full of lead mines, where there were
already between six and seven thousand inhab-
itants, most of them engaged in digging for
ore. Emigrants were flocking fast to the spot,
and there was reason to believe, that the num-
ber this summer would be swelled to twelve
thousand. These people were now in a great
measure without law, because it was uncertain
under what jurisdiction they lay. The land
they occupied was claimed on the one side by
Illinois, and on the other by Michigan, and
much diflftculty and embarrassment was experi-
enced in consequence. The bUl did not go de-
finitively to compromit the question of juris-
diction, but merely provided means to ascertain
the geographical fact as to the true position of
this line, for which purpose it provided a com-
mission, furnished with all the necessary appa-

Mr. Silas Wood, observing that the biU pro-
hibited the use of the magnetic needle in fixing
tins line, inquired the reason ; to which

Mr. Steong replied, that it had been fully as-
certained, and was now conceded, that a per-
fectly straight line could not be run by the
compass, but must be laid on astronomical
principles. Various instruments would enable
the commissioners to run such a line : either
the plane table or the zenith sector, were suffi-
cient for this purpose ; but the best of all
modes was that of a trigonometrical survey.
This was at once the cheapest and the most
certain mode, and was liable to no danger from
the vicinity of iron beds, &c., which would
affect the needle.

Mr. 8. then moved a slight amendment,
which being agreed to, the bUl was laid aside.

Indian Appropriations — Georgia and North

The committee proceeded to consider the
amendments of the Senate to the bUl making
appropriations for the Indian Department.

The first amendment being under considera-
tion, in the words following :

To the end of the following item : " And the
sum of $50,000 be, aad the same is hereby,
appropriated to enable the President of the
United States to carry into effect the articles of
agreement and cession, entered into on the
24th of April, 1802, between the United States
and the State of Georgia, which sum of money
shall be applied under the direction of the
President of the United States, to the extin-
guishment of the claims of the Cherokee In-

dians, to all the lands which they occupy within
the limits of said State."

Add the following : " And to the extinguish-
ment of the claim of the Cherokee Indians to
the lands they occupy within the State of
North Carolina."

Mr. McOoT wished for information, as to any
obligations under which the United States lay
to extinguish the Indian land titles in North
Carolina. He wished, also, to know whether
the Cherokee Indians in that State were witt-
ing to sell their lands ?

Mr. CAESoiir, in reply to these inquiries, went
into a full statement of the facts of the case,
which are in substance as follows :

During the revolution, the State of Forth
Carolina was engaged in an Indian war, the re-
sult of which was a conquest of the Cherokees,
and an arrangement by which they were lo-
cated on certain lands within the State, the
possession of which was guarantied to them
for hunting grounds. In 1785, the General
Government took into its own hands the entire
control of these Indians, (contrary to the ex-
press will and protest of the State,) and guar-
antied to them possession of the lands they
held. In the meanwhUe, the land was sold by
the State, and a collision arose, which termi-
nated by the Treaty of Holston, in 1791, by
which the General Government conveyed to
the Indians the fee of their land, and prohibit-
ed them from making any treaty concerning it
with North Carolina, or any other sovereignty,
but the United States alone. Mr. 0. concluded
that this was an unwarrantable and illegal act,
by which an encumbrance was placed upon the
State of North Carolina, contrary to her most
solemn protest, and the General Government
was therefore bound to make good the money
which that State was obliged afterwards to
pay, in order to extinguish the Indian title, and
make good the land to those who had bought
it of the State. He dwelt on the liberality

Online LibraryUnited States. CongressAbridgment of the Debates of Congress, from 1789 to 1856. From Gales and Seatons' Annals of Congress; from their Register of debates; and from the official reported debates, by John C. Rives → online text (page 33 of 187)