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-indeed lay at the bottom of the social and political structure of In connection with banking and credit, with regard to internal improvement, in relation to the speculation which characterized Tennessee no less than other Western states, and in its bearing on the institution of slavery-in all these ways the land-system was fundamentally involved. Certain phases of the land-question, however, are for our present purposes more interesting than others. We shall therefore limit this discussion to two points: first, to certain later developments in the method of land-sales in Tennessee; and secondly, to the position of those settlers known as "occupants under the Tennessee land-law, and the proposal to donate to these small amounts of land free of any cost of purchase.
The administration of the North Carolina warrants brought no revenue to Tennessee; such income could be obtained only from the lands which the state could sell. Prospectively, all the eastern reservation referred to above would come to Tennessee after the removal of the Indians. At the time of the compromise only onethird was given her by Congress. This was the district south of the French Broad and the Holston, and even here the right of the state to sell the lands was made subject to important restrictions. A certain amount of the lands was to be devoted to colleges and academies, the rights of the "occupant "settlers were carefully guarded, and, above all, except to these occupants, Tennessee was forbidden. to sell its land at any price lower than that charged at the landoffices of the United States, which was then a minimum of $2.00 per acre. This Tennessee regarded as excessively high. The result was the adoption of the credit system, and a painful manifestation of its worst features, including delay and petitions for relief. The landdebtors formed a sectional interest, and the educational institutions suffered greatly."
In 1819, through the extinction of the Indian title by Calhoun's treaty of that year, Tennessee got control of the second block of land in East Tennessee, the Hiwassee District, which by the agreement of 1806 was not subject to the claims of North Carolina war rant-holders. This land could, therefore, be sold by Tennessee, which thus obtained the opportunity of adopting a better method of survey and sale, whereby a large sum of money might be brought
The details of this are to be found in the monograph by Hon. E. T. Sanford, Blount College and the University of Tennessee, pp. 41-59. Compare with this the experience of the national government as described in Emerick, The Credit System and the Public Domain.
7 In addition to that south of the French Broad and the Holston mentioned above.
into the state treasury. A better method of survey was adopted: a plan of rectangular mensuration under state not federal offices. As to selling the land, however, the old plan of credit sales was continued and another class of land-debtors established. But while the matter was before the legislature, a new plan was suggested. The public lands committee of the state legislature included among its members Felix Grundy, Pleasant M. Miller and J. C. Mitchell. The last named now proposed, in lieu of the credit system, a graduation in the price of the lands offered for sale. Mitchell argued that competition to secure the best land would keep the prices up and that only the really less valuable land would bring the lower prices, while the great advantage would be the removal of the evils of the credit system.
Grundy and Miller, Mitchell said at a later time, treated his proposals with levity, and carried the assembly against him; but he brought the matter up again and again, and, in 1823 after he had retired from the legislature, his friends finally passed a law to offer at graduated prices the large amount of lands in the Hiwassee District that remained unsold from the first land-sales of 1820. Occupants were given preference of entry for six months at $1.50 an acre. At the end of this period the lands not bought and paid for were to be offered for general sale for three months at that price. The price should then be reduced to $1.00, with preference to the occupants for three months and then general sale for the same time. Thus the price should be gradually reduced till it reached 25 cents. Then after two months it should fall to 122 cents-the minimum fixed at that time.
This was in a small district in Tennessee. In the Senate of the United States, in the meanwhile, the champion of the public land states was strenuously urging further modifications in the land-system, especially the land-sales, of the United States. The credit system had already given way to that of cash purchases; rights of preemption had been granted. Now, in 1824, Thomas Hart Benton introduced his bill to graduate the price of the public lands of the United States. Tennessee was of course well known to Benton; indeed it was probably during his sojourn in that state that the landquestion first interested him.10 The Tennessee senators at Washington were in touch with him, and supported his land-measures.
Mitchell's account of his plan is found in American State Papers, folio, Public Lands, V. 515. The Act of 1823, ch. 26, made some modifications of detail. 10 Benton, Thirty Years' View, I. 102-103.
We might be justified then in assuming that in this proposal of the system of graduated prices he was acquainted with and influenced by Tennessee's experience. The assumption is however unnecessary, for there is direct evidence on this point. In 1828, in his arguments before the Senate, he used letters from Mitchell and from Nathan Smith of Tennessee to show how the experiment was thought to have worked. Smith, the entry-taker of the Hiwassee District, wrote sending figures as to the amount of land sold at the graduated rates. To these statistics he added:
I have no doubt that, if the Congress of the United States could witness the good effect that this law has had on the citizens of our little district, (not more than forty miles square,) your bill would pass almost unanimously. The price graduated at periodical times (and the land marked out, that the enterer knows exactly what he gets for his money) creates an unheard-of stimulus among all classes of citizens to become landholders. I know many men in this district who, when the law passed graduating the price, etc., were not worth fifty dollars on earth, that never before owned a foot of land, so soon as they found land within their reach used every exertion, and by their industry and good management got themselves money and entered land that makes them good homes, and they are now respectable members of society. It was not uncommon for many of them to spare their last horse, and some their last cow, to save their homes; and I know some men that could not get enough for their only horse in this district to enter them a quarter section, when, at fifty cents per acre, they got on their horse, rode him to Georgia, and sold him, and walked back with their cash in their pockets, and entered their land that they are now making a good living on; and it is gratifying to have it to say that very little of the land here was entered or purchased for speculation."
Thus much for the change in Tennessee from the credit system. to that of graduated prices. In 1837 the latter plan was again adopted for the sale of the land in the Ocoee District-the third Cherokee strip in East Tennessee-of which the state secured possession after the treaty of removal in 1835. We pass to another phase. of the same matter-a phase which involved not only the land-purchaser and the warrant-holder, but those who, having neither purse nor scrip, yet wished to establish their homes on the lands of Tennes
The class to which we allude was dignified, in the laws, by the name "occupants": a more familiar word, perhaps, is "squatters ". The distinction between these and warrant-holders must be clearly borne in mind. The latter were armed with legal authority from North Carolina to receive a certain amount of land; the former were at the mercy of the legislature, which had however a generous heart. In the fundamental land-law of North Carolina of 1777, that "American State Papers, V. 514.
state had given to occupants a preference of entry, and when the North Carolina cession was made, certain groups of occupants already seated on their lands were protected in their occupancy by the terms of that agreement.12 Elsewhere, those who had established occupancy on lands to which the Indian title was not extinguished usually were allowed, if they could get hold of any warrants, to locate these to cover their homesteads and improvements. But in comparison with the warrant-holder, or the land-purchaser at public. sales, their title was necessarily insecure and their position precarious.
West of the line drawn by Congress in 1806, the United States, as we have said, reserved the land, and no warrant could legally be laid down. This however did not prevent the speculator who held warrants from North Carolina from retaining surveys that antedated the restriction by Congress, or from travelling through the "Congressional Reservation" (in possession for the most part of the Chickasaws) and locating, at least in his mind, the tracts which he coveted, meanwhile biding his time till Congress should extinguish the Indian title and throw open the country to white settlement. In 1818 this actually happened: Congress acted on the plea that the lands north and east of the "Congressional Reservation" line were insufficient to satisfy the warrants of North Carolina, and opened to these the lands from which they had hitherto been excluded. A burst of speculation and a wild rush of settlement followed.14 Vast numbers of warrants were laid down; and many rushed to "occupy ", hoping to secure some right which later, when a warrant should be secured, might ripen into a grant; or if they were lucky and long undisturbed, even without a warrant some day might make the land their own. The land that lay between warranted tracts it was customary to speak of as "waste" or "vacant and unappropriated" land; and here especially was opportunity for the occupant.
In 1821 when the first rush was over and the good lands all granted, another provision of the Act of 1806, hitherto largely neglected, was brought to public notice. This was the requirement15 that one-sixteenth of the land of the original district east of the line should be appropriated to schools. Apparently as a result of Maryland's proposal that Congress should make to the old states landgrants commensurate with those given to the new states, an investi12 See the long series of occupancy laws in Haywood and Cobbs, II. 13 Act of Congress, 1818, ch. 35. 3 U. S. Statutes, p. 416.
14 Act of Tennessee, 1819, ch. 1, was intended to regulate this. 15 Id., 1806, ch. 1, § 6.
gation was made, and it was found that the satisfaction of the North Carolina warrants had nullified the provision as to schools and that out of all the lands in this part of the state only a little over 22,000 acres were available.16 Application was then made to Congress for authority to sell for the support of common schools the waste or refuse lands in the eastern and middle parts of the state. This was granted," and the lands were sold at reduced prices, much of what is now valuable coal and mineral land bringing one cent an acre.1 Shortly after, a similar attempt was made with regard to the waste lands south and west of the line; and the Congressional delegation of Tennessee were instructed to use their best efforts to win the consent of Congress for the sale of these lands also for the sake of education.19 After failure in the Eighteenth Congress, 20 the matter was taken up in the Nineteenth by James K. Polk, then a representative from the sixth district of Tennessee and a member of the House Committee of Public Lands, and a bill was brought in which passed two readings.21 In 1828 he again succeeded in reporting from the committee a bill to grant the desired right. Thus far he had had the support of the entire delegation from Tennessee, but next year the whole scheme was suddenly blocked by the action of the representative from the Western District, the backwoodsman, David Crockett.
Crockett was something of a political whirligig. In 1827 he had voted against Jackson for senator, but later had come to Congress as an anti-tariff Jacksonian. In 1828 he wrote home speaking of Jackson in the most loyal terms.23 In January of 1829 however he stirred up a fight with the whole Tennessee delegationwhich, as we have said, was endeavoring to secure from Congress a cession of the western waste lands for education-by proposing that a certain amount of this land should be given outright to the occupants.24 Polk and the other representative from Tennessee tried to placate Crockett with an amendment guarding the rights of the occupants to their settlements on the land in question,25 but Crockett had found assistance in the ranks of the opposition, and,
16 Niles's Register, XXI. 299 ff.
75 U. S. Statutes, p. 729.
18 Acts of Tennessee, 1823, ch. 49; 1825, ch. 64.
19 House Journal, 1823, pp. 325-329.
20 Annals of Congress, 18 Cong., 1 sess., II. 1754.
21 Journal of the House of Representatives, 19 Cong., I sess., p. 240.
Congressional Debates, 1827-1828, vol. IV., part 11., p. 2496.
23 Manuscript letter of Crockett, Tennessee Historical Society.
24 Congressional Debates, V. 161.
25 Ibid., p. 165.