Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

slavery, the child of land monopoly, as under the system of chattel slavery, which has so long scourged the Southern States. What we should demand is, a policy that will guarantee homes to the loyal millions who need them, and thus guard their most precious rights and interests against the remorseless exactions of capital and the pitiless rapacity of avarice."

The reading of a law so comprehensive as this will naturally induce a belief that, so far as the public domain is concerned, it is a final settlement of an angry question. But, unfortunately, this is not the fact. Mr. Julian says the overthrow of the Homestead Law is already threatened, both directly and indirectly. “Since the date of its passage," he says, “ Congress las granted nearly 7,000,000 of acres for the benefit of agricultural colleges, and about 20,000,000 to aid in the construction of railroads. There are now pending before Congress (March 18, 1864), bills making other grants for railroads amounting to nearly 70,000,000 of acres. We have a project before us which grants nearly 7,000,000 of acres for the education of the children of soldiers; another, granting 200,000 acres in Michigan for the establislıment of female colleges, which, of course, would be extended to the other States; and another, granting 10,000,000 of acres for the establishing of normal schools for young ladies. Every day witnesses the birth of new projects, by which our public lands may be frittered away, and the beneficent policy of the Homestead Law mutilated and destroyed."

Here are grants, perfected and in embryo, which embrace nearly 115,000,000 of acres of the lands which had been consecrated to free homes. Vast as is the quantity, the remainder is still large enough, as will be seen hereafter, for many millions of families.

CHAPTER II.

Number of Free Farms—Population, Present and Future-In

crease of Public Wealth—Past and Future Immigration-Gold Mines-Farms-Enough for All.

It is known that when land could be obtained from Government at $1.25 per acre, the demand was very active, both from settlers and speculators. As the same description of lands are hereafter to be given away, many persons will presume that they will be rapidly absorbed by claimants. But there are two potent causes to prevent such result-first, the obligation to occupy the land for five years be fore any title whatever can be acquired, and secondly, the enormous quantity to be distributed. The following remarkable statistics on this subject are given by Mr. Samuel B. Ruggles, in his late report to the International Statistical Congress :

"The territorial area of the United States at the peace of 1783, then bounded west by the Mississippi river, was 820,680 square miles, about four times that of France, which is stated to be 207,145, exclusive of Algeria. The purchase from France of Louisiana, in 1804, added to this area 899,680 square miles. Purchases from Spain, and from Mexico, and the Oregon treaty with England, added the further quantity of 1,215,907 square miles; making the total present territory at 2,936,166 square niles, or 1,879,146,240 acres.

“ Of this immense area, possessing a great variety of climate and culture, so large a portion is fertile that it has been steadily absorbed by the rapidly increased population. In May, 1863, there remained undisposed of, belonging to the Government of the United States, 964,901,625 acres.

“ To prevent any confusion of boundaries, the lands are carefully surveyed and allotted by the Government, and are then granted gratuitously to actual settlers, or sold for prices not exceeding $1.25 per acre to purchasers other than settlers. It appears by the report of the Commissioner of the General Land-office, that the quantity surveyed and ready for sale in September, 1862, was 135,142,999 acres. The report also states, that the recent discoveries of rich and extensive gold fields in some of the unsurveyed portions, are rapidly filling the interior with a population whose necessities require the speedy survey and disposition of large additional tracts. The immediate survey is not, however, of vital importance, as the first occupant practically gains the pre-emptive claim to the land after the survey is completed. The cardinal, the great continental fact, so to speak, is this: that the whole of this vast body of land is freely open to gratuitous occupation, without delay or difficulty of any kind."

All these lands will necessarily rise in value as settlements are scattered through them. Our population is increasing with a rapidity not witnessed in any other country, and it is notorious that it is population which gives value to land. In 1860, we had 31,455,080 inhabitants, of whom 4,441,766 were colored, and of these, 3,953,760 were slaves. Henceforth they may be counted as freemen. The increase

of population since the establishment of the government has been as follows, as given by Mr. Ruggles :

[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

“This rate of progress, especially since 1820, is owing in part to immigration from foreign countries.

“ There arrived, in 10 years, –

From 1820 to 1830.
From 1830 to 1840.
From 1840 to 1850
From 1850 to 1860.

244,490

552,000 .1,558,300 .2,707,624

Total..

...5,062,414

“ Being a yearly average of 126,560 for the last 40 years, and 270,762 for the last ten years."

The rebellion checked the tide of foreign immigration; but in 1863 it again commenced setting towards our shores. Mr. Ruggles says:

“The records of the Commissioners of Emigration of New York show that the arrivals at that port alone have been, for

Total, including

From
Ireland.

From
Germany.

all other countries,

1861 ...,

.27,754 1862

.32,217 1863, up to

to Aug. 20,7 mos... 64,465

27,159 65,529 27,740 76,306 18,724 about 98,000

“ The proportions of the whole number of 5,062,414 ar. riving from foreign countries in the forty years from 1820 to 1860, were as follows:

« ForrigeFortsett »