Circular Letter of D. Levy to the People of Florida, Relative to The Admission of Florida into the Union
TO THE PEOPLE OF FLORIDA.
We have reached a crisis in our affairs, my truly venerated fellow-citizens. It has become my duty to address you, and yours to consider, upon a subject of vital interest, and of abiding consequence, to the community we compose. Twenty three years ago, nearly the span of a generation in human life, a Territorial organization was prescribed for our government. Now, after this long period of subjection to superior authority, circumstances require a decided resolution upon our part, whether this relation shall continue for an indefinite period yet to come, or shall be altered to the condition of equal citizenship, and the rank of n free, independent sovereign people, confederated with the glorious American Union of States. It is essential that we resolve ourselves at present upon this interesting point. We cannot longer cause in hesitation. Indefinite postponement, or prompt assumption of the rights and privileges of independence, is the issue now upon us. We must decide, and as we decide now, so is our destiny fixed. If we please to assert the right of self-government, and a place in the American Union, it is ours; if we please to decline the assumption of this privilege, we may unquestionably do so: but we then cease to be the arbiters of our own fate, for reasons hereafter to be explained; and it will rest with accident to decide when, and how, we may emerge, if ever, from a state of Territorial dependence. Now we may erect our destiny. Henceforward, we become the subject of chance and circumstance. I speak with reference to our political relations and destiny
I address you as a whole. I discard all thought of political, sectional or personal divisions. I address myself to Whigs and Republicans— to East. South, Middle, and West; to all, whatsoever their predilections or affinities, who inhabit the land of Florida. Be the temporary and passing divisions of the day what they may, there can be none so lost to what it due to themselves, and to their posterity, as not to be impressed with an anxious solicitude to provide for the best interests, and enduring happiness, of the community. I entreat you to take into your deliberate consideration what I shall submit, and to direct me, as your servant, in the manner you may deem most advisable. Let us all come together in counsel, with that grave, reflecting, candid, and patriotic spirit which befits the momentous issue that presents itself. None can be more deeply impressed than I feel myself to be with the importance and delicacy of the occasion; and none, I am very conscious, can be more impartial and unprejudiced in the temper with which it is approached. Let me bespeak a similar spirit on the part of all; for the question I present is a question for the country for all interests, for all classes. I stand prepared to act as you shall order. Determine ye then, fellow-citizens.
I proceed to lay before you the circumstances which induce this address, and which have conspired to render an early decision upon the part of Florida, necessary.
The people of our sister Territory of Iowa have, by a strong vote, at the polls, decided upon application for admission as a Slate at the next session of Congress; They have elected delegates to a convention, which is to set during the present month, for the adoption of a Constitution; and at the next session of Congress her demand for admission will be made. Hitherto, it has not been, essential that the people of Florida should take any decided action upon the subject of admission, inasmuch as that no permanent political effect could result from delay. But now the case is altered. It is essential that we should act; and a failure to act, will permanently affect our political attitude and prospects.
From the inception of the Federal Constitution, it has been the policy of statesmen to create and preserve such a system of checks in the organization and practice of the Government, as would secure from oppression all the different divisions and interests of the country. A Government entirely national would have resulted in consolidation, and the subjection of the whole country to the rule of that portion of it in which the majority of the population might have been centered.
As for instance, referring to the late census, and looking to the political divisions, we find that, under a purely national form of government, the population of the six large States of the Union, occupying an aggregate area of 251,000 square miles, would have held absolute rule over the remaining twenty States and three Territories, covering an aggregate area of one million and thirty-six thousand square miles. Again, looking to the great divisions of North and South, we find that the population of the thirteen nonslaveholding States, with an area of 364,000 square miles, would have held absolute sway in the Government over the thirteen weaker slaveholding States, having an area of 574,000 square miles. The consequence of this would have been, that the six large States would have given law to the rest, and the North to the South; or vice versa, the South to the North, had the preponderance of population and power, proved to be in favor of the South, as was expected to be the case at the date of the adoption of the Constitution. The only security against these results, was to give a federative basis to the Government, by preserving the distinct State sovereignties: and by engrafting upon the federative basis a sufficiency of the popular element to give democratic tone to the Government, there was still insured that sympathy and homogeneity in the national Union which might not have attended a less intimate confederation. The Senate was organized with reference to these objects. While the constitution of the House, and the mixed elements of popular and State power that entered into the constitution of the Executive, insured at all times a democratic impulse to the Government, the Senate was so arranged as to establish and preserve to all time the separate existence and sovereignty of the States, and give to the weaker a defensive power against the attacks of the stronger divisions. The equality and individuality of the States was the leading feature designed to be impressed upon the united Government by the constitution of the Senate. It is, and was designed to be, the palladium of State rights, and the balancing power between the great and opposite divisions and sections of the Republic. It was the conservative check against the tyranny of numbers, or sections, or interests. At the date of the adoption of the constitution, the Northern States looked with apprehension to the growing prosperity of the South, its extensive domain, and its probable preponderance of power. To guard against the apprehended supremacy of the Southern plantation States, the Northern States more readily yielded to the compromise, one of the items of which was the concession demanded by the weak States of absolute equality in the Senate; and the South accepted it the more readily, from the fact that the number and population of the Northern States would be ascendant in the organization and first periods of the new Government,
From the first history of the political concert of the Stales, after the Declaration of Independence, the diversity of interest between the North and South has been of prominent exhibition. The journals of the Congress of the Confederation reveal the sectional antagonism of these two great divisions. United as they were in sympathy and patriotic confraternity, it was still found difficult to reconcile the legislation of the Confederation to the circumstances of both divisions, so opposite were the local interests peculiar to each. And the conflicts which occurred in the history of that body in so regulating the system of legislation, as to operate with equality, forced into view the fact, that as respected their relative and respective interests, the North and the South constituted two marked divisions of the country. This antagonism of interest came still more prominently into view in the discussions and transactions of the Convention by which the present Constitution was adopted. In addition to the variance of local interests, growing out of diversity of habits, climate, productions, &c. there was then, (or the first time, brought into bold exposure the variance of feeling growing out of the institution of slavery. Mr. Madison, in very direct terms, pointed to this fact in the course of the deliberations of that body. He said. "He admitted that every peculiar interest, whether in any class of citizens or any description of States, ought to be secured as far as possible. Wherever there is danger of attack there ought to be given a constitutional power of defence. But he contended that the State's were divided into different interests, not by their difference of size, but by other circumstances, the most material of which resulted partly from climate, but principally from the effects of their having or not having slaves. These two causes concurred in forming the great division of interests in the United States. It did not lie between the large and small States; it lay between the Northern and Southern; and if any defensive power were necessary, it ought to be mutually given to these two interests."
Mr. Rufus King, of Massachusetts, and others, confirmed this view. Mr. King said : " He was fully convinced that the question concerning a difference of interests did not lie where it had hitherto been discussed, between the great and small States, but between the Southern and Eastern."
A leading desire with the moderate men of both sections was to provide a balance between these two great divisions, and the means of mutual defence against the oppression or attacks of either. With this view compromises were arranged, by which the political power of the two sections, under the new Government, was as nearly equalized as possible. It was known that the varying tide of population must always tender the balance of power, in the House of Representatives, unstable and uncertain, and it was feared that the South would grow beyond the North in population and strength. But the Senate, it was thought, would preserve the equilibrium, and maintain the weaker against the attacks of the stronger section. And for the immediate preponderance which the North would have in the first organization of the House, and the concession made to the navigating; interest of that section, the South was satisfied by the federative character given to the Government in the constitution of the Senate, the prohibition of export duties, and the partial representation of slaves, together with the prospect of early ascendancy in the House. How totally and strangely does the march of Providence defy the forecast and anticipation of the wisest of men. So far from that speedy ascendancy of the South in the popular branch of the Federal Legislature, which was confidently expected by all parties in the convention, it is a remarkable fact that, at each successive enumeration, the South has sunk further and further into the minority, until, by the last apportionments, they are literally overwhelmed by northern supremacy. The following table exhibits the progressive ratio of power between the two divisions in the House:
Constitution, 1790 1800 1810 1820 1830 1840
North 30 57 77 104 123 152 135
South 35 49 65 79 90 100 88
Thus it has resulted that the Senate, which was at first regarded rather as the bulwark of defence for the small Eastern States, has become in fact the only refuge of the South for protection.
The equilibrium between the two great divisions of North and South may be regarded as one of the great principles of our system of Union. And this equilibrium has thus far been maintained.
It is true that the Union, when first organized, being composed of an odd number of States, it was impossible to produce a numerical balance in the Senate. But although this gave apparent advantage to the Northern interest, yet an actual equipoise resulted from the fact, that at the date of the adoption of the Constitution, the number of slaves in New Jersey and New York was so great, as to ensure for some years a sympathy with the South on the part of those States, By the census of 1790, three years after the convention sat, there were found to be, in the State of New York 21,324 slaves, and in New Jersey 11,423. This principle of an equilibrium between these two divisions, passed immediately after the organization of the new Government, into practical adoption. I state upon the authority of a speech of Mr. Clay, that upon the occasion of the very first application of a new State for admission, a practical recognition was given to it by Congress, it being insisted upon by the North that a balancing Northern State should be received in conjunction.
Mr. Clay, upon that occasion, stated that the admission of Kentucky had been delayed eighteen months before she was permitted to come in, until Vermont also was ready. A member from the North (Mr. Holmes of Massachusetts,) having expressed some surprise at the statement, Mr. Clay re-asserted it upon the authority of his own knowledge of the transactions of that day, in which he said he had participated in some degree, and assured him, that the proposition came from the North, to delay the admission of Kentucky into the Union, until Vermont was ready to enter.
Thus the admission of Vermont was forced as a balance to Kentucky, although a relative numerical advantage was still preserved by it in favor of the North ; but the application of these States being to the first Congress after the adoption of the Constitution, and the expectation of Southern ascendancy of the House being still prevailing, the same influences existed to render this proper as when the original arrangement was made in convention. This anticipation of Southern growth soon began to be abandoned, and Tennessee was admitted into the Union singly, in 1796, thus making an exact balance of States between the two divisions. Ohio was admitted in 1802, but the acceptable consideration to the South was the acquisition of Louisiana, and the treaty provision for its admission into the Union ; and accordingly the admission of Louisiana into the Union a few years afterwards restored the balance. In regular succession followed Indiana and Mississippi ; and then Illinois and Alabama. These two brace of slaveholding and non-slaveholding States although not brought in on the same day, were on the tapis at the same time; so that the understanding of a continued equipoise in the Senate was preserved. The first attempt made by either section to violate this ancient and sacred precedent, and mutual defence, was by the North on the occasion of the application of Missouri for admission. The North had acquired full possession of the House. To obtain possession of the Senate would secure possession of the Government. The Northern majority in the House passed a bill admitting Maine without condition, but annexed to the admission of Missouri the condition that slavery should not exist within its borders. This would at once have brought the South or slaveholding States into subjection. The value of the conservative principle of equilibrium in the Senate was made manifest in this struggle. The Senate refused to admit Maine, without the simultaneous unconditional admission of Missouri, and blended the two bills, by amendment, into one measure. For repeated sessions the struggle raged, and terrible was the excitement produced in the nation, and appalling the danger which threatened the Union, from this memorable conflict between the two great divisions. A compromise succeeded, which resulted in the unconditional admission of both these States, and in the settled abandonment of any future attempt upon either side to disturb the balance of power in the Senate. Since that time, Arkansas and Michigan, a slaveholding; and nonslaveholding State, were quietly admitted together, and the balance of free and slave States, preserved to the present day. The free Territory of Iowa now comes forward for admission, Florida has been looked to as the counterpoise for her. If they enter the Union together, the equilibrium is preserved. If not, the North comes at once into supremacy in the Senate, and the South, thus reduced to a minority in both brandies, falls defenceless before the power of the North, and holds lier rights at the mercy of her rival. Whether the long sanctified precedent of a balance between these two great divisions shall be continued or abandoned, rests now with us; and therefore it is that the application of Iowa for admission connects itself with the course and policy of Florida, and requires a definite and prompt resolution upon our part. By entering the Union with Iowa, we contribute to maintain the defensive power of the South. By declining, we throw the unrestricted possession of the Government into the hands of the North, and they may admit us afterwards or not, at their pleasure, and with, or without slavery, at their pleasure, without the ability of the South to help us; and therefore it is I have said, that now we are the arbiters of our own destiny, and henceforward we become the subject of chance and circumstance.
Inasmuch as the prospects and destiny of Florida, not only as a distinct community, but as a part of the South, might be permanently and seriously involved in the results which may grow out of the admission of Iowa without a counterpoise, I have deemed it my duty to lay the subject before you, that I may receive your instructions as to the course I shall adopt in your name, at the next session. And at this point I might with propriety close my communication to you. But as my access to public documents and other sources of information here, enable me to collate data which may not be within the reach of all, and which may be useful to those who seek for truth and are desirous of reaching a correct conclusion upon so important a subject, I have thought that it would not be regarded intrusive upon my part to unite with you in counsel, by laying at once before you the reflections which have occurred to me, and the statistics I have prepared in illustration of them.
I take it for granted that it would be the pleasure of Florida to meet the wishes of her sisters of the South, by maintaining the balance of power in the Senate, if it can be done without unreasonable sacrifice. It is certainly the interest of Florida to sustain and promote Southern policy. It is her interest to prolong and establish the defensive power of the South against attacks or aggression upon her peculiar institutions and- interests. It is her interest to secure in time her due position in the Union, if by delay she incurs the hazards of submitting to the alternative either of permanent dependance, or a surrender of her domestic policy, in respect to the existence of slavery within her borders ; an alternative which she will be reduced to as surely as we resign to the non-slaveholding States the unchecked possession of the legislative power of the Union. The Missouri question is a standing lesson of history, and the cords of petitions which lumber the files of Congress against our admission with the institution of slavery, show that the course of that conflict is to be reproduced in the case of Florida. Of course, if we allow the South to be shorn of the locks of strength which Senatorial equality now confers, we go into the contest without power of resistance. It is, therefore, no less our own interest than that of the South generally, that we should add a State to the Union at once, if it be practicable.
Can we do so ? To do it will involve of course, to some degree, a sacrifice of opinion on the part of some, a sacrifice of interest on the part of others, and an assumption by the whole of responsibilities, duties, and burdens, not now directly resting upon them.
There will be required a sacrifice of opinion on the part of that highly respectable portion of our citizens, both as to numbers and influence, who believe that our local interests will be best promoted by longer protraction of our admission, or by a division into two Territories, with a view of ultimately forming two States.
There will be required a sacrifice of interest on the part of those of our citizens who hold lucrative offices under the Federal Government, which would cease to exist, or to be equally profitable, when we cease to be a Territory ; on the part of those who hold large grants of land, which now can be held without taxation, but which under a State Government would be subjected to contribution equally with the property of others, both for county and State purposes; and on the part of those who hold charters of incorporation, the monopolizing provisions of which they apprehend may be interfered with by a State Government.
There will be required an assumption by all of responsibilities, duties, and burdens, which do not now devolve upon them. The responsibility of self-government, with the various duties that attach to it, and the burthen of providing for the support of Government.
Inasmuch as it would be unnecessary to make sacrifice either of opinion or interest, if we are not capable of providing means for the support of an independent Government, it is proper to consider that point first ; and as our ability to provide these means will be more or less affected by such circumstances of positive advantage and stimulated prosperity, as will of necessity follow the change of government, it is proper to take a survey first of this branch of the subject.
What, then, are the benefits, either direct or indirect, which will flow from State Government, and which will thus add to our ability and willingness to bear the effort of self support ?
First. The first great, very great, benefit, will be the means it will confer upon us, of improving our rivers and roads, and constructing railroads and canals.
Immediately upon our admission, we shall become entitled to 500,000 acres of land, (to be selected in such manner as our Legislature may direct, in parcels not less than 320 acres, of half a section,) for internal improvements, to wit: (in the language of the law,) "Roads, railways, bridges, canals, and improvements of water courses, and draining of swamps."
The value of this fund depends, of course, upon the period at which we are admitted. If our admission is delayed until the best lands are all entered, of course the value of the donation will be small. If we are admitted now, while the whole of the large body of highly valuable lands at present undisposed of, are open to our selection, the fund derivable jroni this source will be of immense value. No man who properly appreciates the value of lands in Florida can doubt that a selection of half a million of acres of land, made now, could be so located as to be worth, at the lowest calculation, ten dollars per acre. If any one doubts this, let him ask himself, if he possessed a float of half a section, which he could locate on any public lands he pleased in Florida, whether he could not so locate it as to be worth more than ten dollars per acre. Now, the power of selection of this half million is equivalent to a float vested in Florida, to be located in half sections. The value is immense. My own opinion is that it ought to realize twenty dollars per acre, when we consider the value of sugar lands in Louisiana, and compare the superiority of the climate of Florida over all others in the United States for the production of sugar, sea island cotton, tobacco, fruits, &c.
Suppose, then, the eventual yield from this donation to be ten dollars per acre ; 500,000 acres, at $10 per acre, would give a fund of five millions of dollars applicable to internal improvements. The interest, alone, upon this fund, loaned out to our farmers, upon good security, at the legal rate of interest in Florida, would yield four hundred thousand dollars per annum, applicable to the improvement of rivers and roads, and the construction of railroads, besides giving an impetus to agricultural prosperity by the addition of so large a capital to its resources.
Suppose the land to realize only $5 per acre, still the annual interest would be two hundred thousand dollars for these purposes. Now, when it is considered that this money will be expended under the direction of our own people, by engineers and contractors of our own selection, and applied to objects of our own preference, it is easy to see how much farther this sum would 2[o towards accomplishing substantial improvements, than the same Slim appropriated by Congress for purposes of its own selection, and expended by its own officers. And one year's income from this immense fund, will be more than the whole amount appropriated by Congress for roads and rivers in Florida, from its first existence as a Territory to the present day.
If a part of this fund for internal improvement is applied to the construction of a railroad from the Atlantic to the Gulf of Mexico, it would be, as such a road to be, and 1 hope will be, the property of the State, whereby it would be subject to the use of our citizens, without the impositions and exactions which a private chartered monopoly would impose, and the profits of the road would support a State Government, without taxation.
Second. The next great advantage — incalculable great advantage — which we shall derive from admission, respects education.
There has already been reserved two townships of land for a university, and two townships more are proposed to be granted for the same purpose; one university to be located east of the Suwannee, and the other west of it — a provision rendered desirable on account of the distance between the extremes of Florida. These four townships will amount to 92,160 acres of land, which, at ten dollars per acre, would be $921,600, or nearly one million. That ten dollars an acre is a fair estimate, is proven by the fact, that some of the lands already located are stated to be worth, and capable of being now sold at, prices varying from $15 to $ 10 per acre.
There are also reserved for the use of common schools, the 16th section of each township. There are in Florida 1,528 townships, and the 16th section of each one is good as to title, not withstanding the extensive Spanish grants — the act of last session, allowing a re-location wherever the title fails. This, then, yields 977,920 acres of land applicable to the support of common schools. Taking into consideration the fact that some of these 16th sections are of little value, (though much less in proportion than before the allowance was granted of a change of locations where the title was deficient,) I will estimate these lands at an average value of only two dollars and a half, which will yield the sum of $2,444,800, or nearly two and a half millions of dollars. If Congress, as is possible, perhaps probable, should allow us to change the location wherever the 16th section should prove valueless, of course the value of this fund will be greatly increased. In addition to this, five per cent, of all the lands sold in Florida will be granted for purposes of education.
Now, the benefit of all this immensely valuable fund for education is totally lost to us until we become a State; inasmuch as no title vests while we are a Territory, and no use, therefore, can be made of any part of it.
Taking the University and common school funds together, there would be a capital of $3,366,400; which, at the legal interest, would yield $269,312 per annum for the education of the youth of both sexes.
By the census of 1840 it appears there were within the limits of Florida 2,825 males between the ayes of 10 and 20, and 2,760 females of the same age; making of both sexes, 5,585; and, out of these, only 925 were receiving the benefits of schooling. Now, was this immense fund for education in condition to be applied to that purpose, there would be, without touching a dollar of the original capital, an annual fund of $480 for each youth of both sexes between the ages of 10 and 20. (Note 1.) Or if you rate the University lands at only $5 per acre, and the common school lands at $1 25, there would be $240 for each child annually— enough to give each one a perfect education.
Third. The next advantage we would derive from becoming a State, would be the impetus it would give to immigration. It is to be presumed that like results will follow the admission of Florida, which have invariably attended the admission of other Territories. I will not undertake to assign the causes, but certain it is, that the result of admission has in every instance been a wonderfully accelerated progression in population and wealth. The greater confidence in the stability and wisdom of legislation, the greater vigor and benefits of self-government and domestic sovereignty, the more active efforts and efficient service of the public men of the State in pressing forward the development of its resources, may be, in part, the reasons; but of the effect there can be no doubt.
Ohio, admitted with a population of 45,000, in ten years after had a population of 230,706.
Indiana, established in 1800, with a population of 4,875, reached, in 10 years of Territorial Government, 24,520: At the next census after her admission she had 147,178; and at the succeeding one, 14 years only after her admission, had 343,031.
Illinois, established in 1809, with about 12,000, was admitted with about 50,000 inhabitants. In about 10 years afterwards, at the census of 1830, she had 157,455; and at the next census, 476,153.
Alabama was admitted in 1819, with about 100,000 inhabitants, and had, in 11 years afterwards, 309,000; and in 1840, 590,000.
Missouri, established in 1812, with about 28,000, had reached, under Territorial Government, in 1820, only 66.000. In ten years afterwards, under a State Government, she had 140,000; and in ten years more 383,000.
Mississippi, established in 1798, with about 8,000 inhabitants, reached, in 19 years of Territorial Government, only about 60,000 inhabitants. In 12 years of State Government, she reached 136,000; and in 22 years of State Government, 375,000.
Louisiana, established in 1803, with all her original population, reached, in nine years of Territorial Government only 80,060 inhabitants; and in eight years of State Government, had reached 153,000.
Arkansas, established in 1819, had readied m 17 years of Territorial Government, 60,000; and in 4 years after admission, had 97,000.
Michigan, established in 1805, had reached, after 31 years of Territorial Government, 70,000; and in 4 years of State Government, had reached 212,000.
(Note I.) In respect to the value of the school lands, the following estimable, the reasonableness of which will strike every one, shows that a valuation of $2 50 per acre is not too much.
These uniform results, in every instance of a change of Government, cannot otherwise than be the production of causes operating to like effects in all other cases.
Fourth. The next advantage will consist in the superior weight we shall have in the Government of the United States, and thus the better ability we will have of securing to our citizens a just settlement of all their demands against the Federal Government, and a more active and liberal prosecution of the public works in Florida. A Delegate from a Territory can wield only a personal influence. The Senators and Representatives of a State wield a political influence, which is felt and is effective. Nearly all the legislation which is procured for the local benefit of the weak States, is obtained by means of their weight in the senate. An experience of one session is sufficient to convince any representative of this undeniable fact.
The benefits we would derive from this acquisition of political weight for Florida, would be, among others, the following:
1. A prompt provision for the payment of the sums yet due to our citizens for military services and supplies, the part of which yet unprovided for cannot be less than $500,000, mostly due to East and Middle Florida for militia and volunteers of 1838, 1839, and 1840. The War Department being against the allowance of these claims, with very little exception, it will require all the weight which a State Government, and State Senators and Representatives in Congress, can bring to bear, to counteract the injustice of the Department, and insure speedy justice to our citizens. I am doing all in my power as Delegate, to accomplish this objective; but I cannot help feeling how much more certain success would be, if Florida had votes in both houses. If the admission of Florida hastened this settlement only two years, it would be important, for the interest alone would be $40,000 per annum, which is lost to our citizens.
2. The most early indemnification of our citizens for losses sustained by Indian hostilities. The accomplishment of this will, of course, require the very highest effort, and strongest power, we can bring to bear; and no one will pretend that a Delegate, without a vote, whatever may be his ability and personal influence, can expect to do as much towards it, or to accomplish it as soon, as a Representative with a vote, and two Senators, could. The only hope I have of success before we become a State, is by connecting it with our admission, and appealing to the spirit of liberality which usually prevails upon such occasions, for a grant of sufficient quantity of land to cover the amount of losses. Such a provision has been reported by the Committee on Territories, and I have reason to hope will pass, should it be the decision of Florida to assent to admission upon the terms of that bill.
3. The more vigorous prosecution of the public works. As, for instance, the navy yard at Pensacola, the fortification, of the coast, the improvement of our harbors, &c.
4. The reclamation from the United States of our distributive proportion of the surplus revenue shared among the States in the year 1836. The fund which was distributed, was the proceed of taxes levied as well upon the inhabitants of the Territories as upon those of the States, and should have been restored to the people of the Territories in their due proportion. Although it was distributed under the guise of a deposit, it is plain to every one that it has settled down into a permanent restoration of surplus taxes to the people of the States. All the Territories, then, in existence at the date of the act, were entitled to their due proportion. Arkansas, Michigan, and Florida, were the only Territories at that time. Arkansas and Michigan, and Florida, were the only Territories at that time. Arkansas and Michigan received their proportion upon their admission. Florida will be entitled to hers; and we may well expect that, when once admitted, we would readily obtain it. The amount would be disposable at our pleasure, for the support of State Government, or otherwise, and would constitute a considerable fund, to wit: $382,335.
Fifth. The next advantage to be enumerated will be the greater ability we shall have of protecting our citizens in their just rights.
Let us take an instance or two: Under a State Government we could successfully maintain our citizens in the possession of their homes against the Hackley or any other one of the grants to the Dukes of Alagon, Punon Rostro, and De Vargas. As a Territory we could not, because it is in the power of Congress to repeal at pleasure the law's of the Territory. If it be said that Congress would not do this, I refer your recollection to one memorable instance (among many others) of this violent suppression of an act of legislation of our Territory, which we deemed to be due to the just protection of our own citizens. Our Legislature passed an act, in 1834, imposing a tax on cattle ranging upon our pastures, when owned by nonresidents, who used the benefit of our country, to the injury of our own citizens, without being present to contribute to the duties of citizenship. Congress repealed this law, and provided imprisonment to be inflicted upon any officer or citizen of Florida who attempted to enforce it. Yes, the prison was to be the doom of the Freemen of Florida, if they dared to execute a law of their own Legislature! This could never happen under a State Government.
Again. Our citizens, in some parts of East Florida, are outrageously annoyed and injured by the immense extent of reservations subjected to exclusive military authority. Under a State Government, the United States could not exercise exclusive jurisdiction over one acre of land within our limits, without first asking and obtaining the consent of our Legislature.
Many other like instances might be given of the better ability we should have to protect the just rights of our citizens.
Sixth. The next advantage we would have would be in better legislation, and a better administration of the laws.
There would be more interest taken by the body of our citizens in the Legislature of the State, a stricter responsibility on the part of the Legislature, and a greater degree of pride felt in the character, dignity, and wholesomeness of our legislative action. And the laws, when made, would be more satisfactorily administered by officers of our own selection, and directly responsible to ourselves. I mean, by this remark, no disparagement to the gentlemen at present concerned in the administration of the laws, but it is obvious to all that those officers are best to be relied upon who derive their authority from the same power which enacts the laws they are to administer.
Seventh. Another advantage from admission into the Union will be, that the immense land grants which cover so much of the best portions of our country, will be more likely to be brought quickly into market, and disposed of to settlers at reasonable prices. The "Forbes Grant" covers one million two hundred thousand acres, the "Arredondo Grant" nearly 300,000. The ".Hackley" grantees claim twelve millions of acres; and there are innumerable grants of fifteen and twenty thousand acres, shingling the country. Much of these, in fact the greater part of the large grants, are owned by persons not resident in Florida, and who are altogether indifferent about our prosperity or convenience, but only concerned in making the utmost possible profit from their grants. So long as we remain a Territory, and they can keep their lands without expense, they have no inducement to bring them into market at prices which settlers can at present afford. The same rate of taxes which the man of moderate possessions will pay under a State Government, would, in the course of a year or two, open the eyes of these large proprietors to the necessity and propriety of disposing of their lands by quick sales. Let me not be understood as recommending any unequal legislation towards this class of property holders— far from it. But the annual bill of taxes, required to be paid up in cash, by those who hold overgrown claims in our midst, would, by a natural and beneficial operation, relieve us in a short time of those blotches of waste forest, which will otherwise so long interrupt the continuity of settlement and improvement in the fairest portions of our country. This view is based upon sound and legitimate principles of policy. It is injurious to a community lo have large portions of its productive soil in an untenanted and unimproved state. As a general rule, the prosperity of the community is retarded by the monopoly of more land by any one person than he can reasonably use, or can dispose of within a reasonable time to those who will use it. The soil which God has given lo man for tillage, should not be made a subject of unreasonable monopoly, and be withheld from market and the uses of agriculture too long, as a means of speculation and profit. It is immoral, as well as violative of good policy. The true interest of are republican community is to have its lands held in small parcels, and occupied and cultivated by owners of the freehold. If, then, by the natural operation of equal laws, this policy can be promoted, it is legitimate and proper. If individuals will, for profit, monopolize to themselves more than a reasonable share of the soil, they cannot complain if they are made to pay a contribution as much larger in proportion to their neighbors, as the proportion of their acres bears to those of their neighbors; and if the effect of this is to make them divide their possessions for reasonable consideration with others, dividing thus also the burdens of it, it is a happy and desirable effect.
Eighth. Another advantage will be in the opportunity we shall have of contributing to the promotion of such of the federal policy as may be in our opinion most just, and equal, and salutary. An advantage not to be disregarded when we reflect that the laws of the United States operate upon us for weal or woe, in precisely the same extent that they do upon the citizens of a State; and yet no voice can we exert in the enactment or repeal of a United States statute.
Many other direct advantages occur to me, but it is not necessary to extend this branch of our inquiry. One more only will I notice, to wit :
Ninth. The next and last advantage I will advert to, (and because last, by no means least in importance,) is the truly great privilege of self-government. The high, the inappreciable, prerogative of self-government, of independence, of individual sovereignty ! We ought not to overlook the true value of this inestimable right. It was for this the patriots of the Revolution fought — and for this so many martyrs have fallen. It is the theme which daily dwells upon the tongues of all our countrymen of the States. The spirit of it is instilled into the souls of our youth from the hour they can learn to lisp the language of freedom. It is a condition which dignifies man, and expands him to his full stature— which ennobles his nature, animates his soul, elevates his thoughts. It is the perfection of political existence, for which the free spirit of man yearns, as the soul does for immortality, and until he re;\ches which he feels there is something wanting— a higher state yet to be enjoyed. Who that has the power and the right to be free, would live the life and die the death of dependence! It is of the essence of man to scorn dependence of his will, and to aspire to that uncontrolled, equal, sovereign right of free agency and self-government, which Nature and Nature's God designed to be the inheritance of his creatures. For this much has ever been sacrificed. For this I am sure we will be prepared to sacrifice much.
The next view of the question relates to the burdens of the change from Territorial to State Government.
There can be no doubt that we shall find the cost of a State Government inconvenient. At present no taxes are paid; of course, the change from total exemption to any taxation at all will be felt inconveniently. In assuming this burthen, then, a generous sacrifice is necessary.
Whether we are able to make this sacrifice, and how and to what extent we shall be recompensed for it, it is proper to weigh.
Let us turn to a consideration of our ability to maintain an independent State Government.
The first inquiry respects the cost of a State Government.
There is no reason why we should not be able to support a State Government at as cheap a rate as other States, the population of which assimilates to ours in numbers. The three States which approach nearest to ours in numbers are:
Rhode island, the population of which is ...................... 108,830 Delaware....................................................................... 78,055 Arkansas....................................................................... 97,574
The cost of supporting the Government in these States is as follows: Rhode Island, total cost, including State prison............$29,000 Delaware, whole expenditure in 1842...........................$27,424 Arkansas (the expenditure of this State I have not been able to obtain.)
The chief expenditure in the States is for interest upon public debt, appropriations for internal improvements, support of schools, insane hospitals, and other eleemosynary institutions, &c. none of which expenses need we incur any more than we do now.
Let us make an exact estimate, in detail, of a liberal allowance for Florida:
Governor..........................$1,500 Secretary of State.............$1,200 41 four judges, at $2,000..... $8.000 Attorney General..............$1,000 &. Fees Solicitors, (4,)....................$250 & fees $1,000 Comptroller........................$1000 Miscellaneous expenses, including cost of criminal prosecutions, over and above fines and penalties, $8,000
Legislative expenses 41 Members, 16 Senators,
57 at $4 per day, 1 1/2 months..................$10,260 Traveling and contingent expense.............$ 4,000
Total Legislative ........$14,260 Total Executive...........$22,500
(Note: The returns of fines and forfeitures for 1843 was, by clerks, $1,983.64 by marshals, &c. (paid) $3,086.87)
The above would be a very liberal permanent scale of cost; but, for the first two or three years, it might be greatly reduced; for instance : The Attorney General might be allowed only $250 and fees, saving - 750 Solicitors might be allowed fees only, saving - - - - 1 000 Secretary of State and Treasurer might be united, saving - - 800 Members of Legislature might be allowed $3 per day, saving - - 2,565 Mileage and contingent expenses, and miscellaneous expenses, might, by economy, be reduced - - - - - -2 500 Total $7,115
Which would reduce the cost to $29,645.
But rate the cost even at $40,000, (which is $11,000 more than above estimated,) can we raise that with convenience?
We have been in the habit of underrating our resources. The statistics of the late census disclose the remarkable fact that Florida stands fourth on the list of all the States and Territories of the Union in the proportion of the value of her annual products to her free population. Louisiana, Mississippi, and Rhode Island alone exceed Florida; the other Slates, except Alabama, which is on a par with Florida, all being below, and many far below her. As compared with Iowa, Florida is very far superior. While the proportion of Florida is $103 to each person, that of Iowa is only $27. As compared with the slave States, Florida stands third on the list.
We have a fine climate, fertile soil, rich and rare staples, and industrious and enterprising people, the most valuable fisheries on the American coast, the only naval depot south of Virginia, and the third commercial city of the Gulf — Apalachicola. Willi all these elements of public wealth, we may fairly esteem ourselves to be capable of contributing for the support of independence, as much, and with as much ease, as the citizens of any State.
As Alabama stands upon a precise equality with Florida in respect to the annual value of her products as compared with the white population, and is below us in productiveness, as compared with the whole population, we will take the tax list of that State, and see what amount of revenue would be raised in a year, if our citizens were to pay the same taxes which a citizen of Alabama pays.
Lands, six millions of acres, at $2 50 average per acre, $15,000,000, at 20 cents per $100 $30,000
Town property, $l,000,000,at the same rate - - - 2,000
Slaves not exceeding ten years, at 10 cents, 11,070 - - - 1,107 Do over 10 and under 50, 19,000, at 50 cents - - - 9,500
Free negroes and mulattoes, 419 at $1 - - - - 419
White males over 21 and under 45, 9,236, at 25 cents - - 2,309
Neat cattle (over 40 head.) There were 118,000 in 1840; double -
in 1845 ; and deduct one-third for the 40 head, leaves 158,000 - 1,580
Factors, 25 cents for every $100 of commission, $50,000 - - 125
Auction sales,2 per cent.— say $500,000 - - - - 10,000
Every $100 of merchandise sold, (not manufacture of Slate) say
$3,000,000, at 20 cents ------ 6,000
Horses kept exclusively for saddle— say 1,000, at 50 cents - - 500
Pleasure carriages, gold and silver watches, peddlers, race-tracks, billiard-tables, &c. estimated in gross . - - - 5,000
But this sum of $68,544, to which, adding for our fisheries $1,500, would amount to $70,004, would be infinitely more than we should require to raise. Nearly double too much.
Let us make a table of revenue at much reduced rates of tax, and more properly distributed, to yield the sum we shall require, viz :
Land at two and a half mills per acre, six millions of acres, (1) - $15,000 Slaves, over 10 and under 55, 20,887, (2) at 25 cents - - 5,222
Town property, at 10 cents per $100, $15,000,000, (3) - - 1,500
Ten cents on every $100 of merchandise sold— say $3,000,000, (4) 3,000
Auction sales, (5) - - - - - - - 8,000
Fisheries, (6) ------ - 3,500
Saw-mills, 10 cents on every $100 invested— $488,950, (7) - 488,95
Here then, with one-half the taxes paid by a citizen of Alabama, we could raise more than enough to support a State Government ; and as compared with South Carolina, Mississippi, and other Southern States, the rates will be found to be nearly two-thirds less.
The foregoing estimated revenue of $44,710, is fifteen thousand dollars more than is required by one of my estimates of cost of supporting a State Government, and $9,950, more than the highest estimates.
But suppose from the sources above indicated we failed to raise enough. A poll or capitation tax of 75 cents, the same which is paid in Mississippi, and most other Southern States, would give at once $7,857 more; and who would begrudge 75 cents a year, for two or three years, out of his gains, for such a purpose as the support of his independence?
NOTES. (1.) This computation of the quantity of lands held as private property, includes public lands sold since the cession of Florida, grants already confirmed and surveyed, grants confirmed and to be surveyed, with a very moderate addition for claims likely to be yet confirmed.
(2.) To the numbers shown by the last census, I have added the increase up to 1845, adopting as the rule of increase, the per centum of increase between the years 1830 and 1840, to wit: 54 per cent. The increase, however, must be much greater than I have made it, because the immigration has been far greater in the last five years than at any former period.
(3.). The value of town property in the cities of Pensacola, Apalachicola, Mariana, Quincy, Tallahassee, Monticello, Newnansville, Madison, Jacksonville, St. Augustine, and Key West, is moderately estimated at one million and a half.
(4.) When it is recollected that the exports of Florida exceed $5,000,000, it will be seen that $3,000,000 is a very low computation of the amount of sales of merchandise, as the imports are usually rather more in amount than exports.
(5.) The amount of tax on auction sales returned under our very loose Territorial system, was In 1840.......... $4,685 22 1841................ 3,594 00 1842................ 2,441 58 1843................ 3,622 07
(6.) The fisheries on the southern coast are of great value. Florida, by the last census, ranked THIRD on the list of States and Territories in the value of her fisheries. The fishers from Cuba and the other West India islands, who are obliged to come to the Florida side for good fishing ground, can readily afford a liberal tax for license. $1,500 is a very low estimate.
(7.) See census of 1840.
(8.) The lucrative professions, being quasi monopolies, ought to be taxed, and can bear It. The clergy, constituting a profession devoted to benevolent uses, and not pursued for profit, ought not be taxed.
(9.) A very) low estimate.
Now let each citizen calculate by the above table what his annual tax would be, and he can say whether he could bear it without sensible injury.
It is true, that many of those who have recently settled under the armed occupation act, are not well enough established as yet to bear extra expense; but that objection is removed by the fact that until five years have expired, they will be subject to no tax at all for their land, and the only tax for which they would be called upon, would be twenty five cents for each slave between 10 and 55 years of age.
Let us take the case of a farmer in ordinary circumstances, and see what his tax would be.
If he has a quarter section of land, and works it by his own labor, and that of his family, his whole tax for the year would be 40 cents.
If he has 5 slaves between 10 and 55 years of age, he would pay in addition $125, making $1 65 per annum.
A man who has a whole section of land, and twenty slaves to work it, would pay for his whole tax, $6 60; which ten bushels of corn, at 75 cents per bushel, would more than pay.
A resident of a town, who owned a house and lot, worth $500 would pay 50 cents.
If his house was of a better style, and was worth $1,000, he would pay one dollar.
If he sacrificed so much to grandeur and comfort as to require a house which cost $5,000 or $10,000, his tax would be $5 or $10, as the case might be.
A laborer, who owned no house or land, would pay nothing.
It is to be confessed, that the burden would be more inconveniently felt by those speculators and grantees, who hold large bodies of land; but if they choose to arrest the settlement and productive resources of the country, by holding back their lands from market for higher prices, it is fair they should pay for the privilege. And so long as they are not required to pay more than their equal proportion, they should be content to make the sacrifice, for the benefit of those who, by their labor, are developing the resources of the country, and thus daily enhancing the value of all the lands in it.
Partisans, and those who are interested in keeping Florida out of the Union, either for party purposes, or for profit in land speculations and charters, &c. will seek to cypher out a very frightful bill of costs and of taxation ; but let the sober minded citizens of the country make their own calculations, and they will not much differ from mine.
If it should be thought that we have the ability to maintain a State Government, we may next consider whether the advantages of the change justify the sacrifice, first of interest, and second of opinion.
The only sacrifice of interest will be in assuming the cost of self-government.
Contrast, then, the benefits which will be derived from a change of Government, and let each man, calculating his own bill of taxes, determine if he will pay its amount for such benefits.
What are these benefits ?
1. He acquires the prerogative of self-government.
2. He gels, for the education of each of his children, $480 per annum. (Let him ask himself what his school bill costs now.)
3. He secures $400,000 per annum for the improvement of roads and rivers — giving employment to his own fellow citizens in the work.
4. He acquires a more secure protection against Federal oppression.
5. He hastens the settlement of the claims of the country against the United States.
6. He preserves the balance of power in the Senate, and thus saves his own rights, in common with those of his Southern brethren generally, from the danger of being trampled upon.
7. He participates, as an equal with the rest of the citizens of the Union, in the conduct of the greatest republic of the world; and influences, in his due proportion, the action of the Government upon his own individual interests.
8. At this particular juncture he can give his aid in securing to the South and the country, the great blessing and benefit of the acquisition of Texas.
The only sacrifice of opinion which is required, will be from those who prefer a division into two Territories, and those who are opposed to a division upon any terms.
The preference for a division into two Territories, is entertained by a large and respectable portion of our fellow-citizens, who are animated to this policy by the truly Southern and patriotic purpose of gaining additional strength to the South in the National Councils.
The project of a division into two Territories is entirely impracticable. No party, or section of Congress, gives favor to it. They would admit into the Union a portion of Florida, and organize the rest into a Territory — but they will not duplicate the expense of supporting us by making two Territories. Every reasonable man will see that this is a natural disposition. The only purpose of Territorial Government is the maintenance of civil police until the population is sufficient for independent Government. This purpose is sufficiently attained by the present Government in Florid^i; and there is, therefore, no countenance given to a proposition which will not only double the cost, but protract the continuance of that cost to an indefinite period. Other Territories have been divided, but it was on account of such unwieldy extent of Territory that one Government was incapable of maintaining a police control over the whole. When Iowa was divided from Wisconsin, it was because the Territory covered an area of 300,000 square miles, which is about six times the size of the whole of Florida. The area of Iowa is now 200,000 square miles, and that of Wisconsin 95,000 square miles; while the highest estimate ever made of the area of Florida is 55,000 square miles, and most geographers state it to be from 47,000 to 54,000. The resolutions of the Legislature of Florida, and of public meetings in reference to the same subject, were duly presented in both houses of Congress, and reports were made in each. For the information of all, I will cause to be appended to this communication, a copy of the report in each house; and it is due to you I should say, that these reports are in conformity, as far as the refusal to divide into two Territories is concerned, with the unanimous sentiment of all parties. A large party will be decidedly opposed to any provision by which the formation of two States at any lime to come, may be promoted. There will be even a very powerful effort made to defeat our admission as a slave State now or at any time, even without a provision for prospective division; but it is my opinion that a bill in the shape of the one reported by the committee at the last session, can be carried, if united with the Iowa bill, and pressed at the same time.
The sacrifice of opinion which the consent to present admission involves, is recommended by the consideration that from the existing juncture of affairs, the scheme of admission now, with a provision for a division here-after, is the only practicable mode of securing this object. It must be borne in mind that it is not our will, but the will of Congress, which must govern in respect to this question. At present, the South is in a position to insist upon and secure this measure, as a just and reasonable provision for the preservation of the political balance in the Government. But let the North once acquire a decided preponderance in the legislative power of Government, and all possibility of a division upon any terms ceases forever. No party combination, or party power, can control ii. It will merge into a struggle for power between the two divisions of North and South, and geographical, not party lines, will control the issue. Such has ever been, and ever will he, the history of such contests. The admission, then, of Iowa, followed as it will be by that of Wisconsin, at the very next session afterwards, will be the seal of doom to division, at any time, or upon any terms — unless, indeed, which is impossible, we should consent to the abolition of the institution of slavery.
It IS further recommended by the consideration, that it is now ,, at this present juncture, that the South requires to be strengthened, and that hereafter our aid will be comparatively valueless.
The sacrifice of opinion which admission upon the terms of a prospective division involves, is recommended to those who are hostile to a division at any time, by the consideration, that it may become indispensably necessary in a future stage of the Federal history, that we should throw the weight of another State into the scale of the South, at every hazard and sacrifice. A sudden emergency may require a sudden remedy and defense. The provision being of character not requiring the future action of Congress, this defensive power will be held ready to be exerted upon the instant of necessity. And I am very sure that whatever may be our individual views of policy, we are all impelled by a sympathy with the South, and will prefer to be in a position to be most serviceable in lime of most need.
I am aware that the 6th section of the act for our admission reported by the committee, will be as opposite to the wishes of that position of our fellow-citizens who prefer the admission of Florida as a whole — one and indivisible forever — as the present admission upon any terms will be to the wishes of those who prefer two Territories at this time. But the scheme presents itself as a compromise between the two extremes of opinion. It will involve a mutual concession, and mutual sacrifice, for the common good, and for the South.
I have thus presented to you, fellow-citizens, with as much brevity as possible, the interesting subject to which this communication relates. You have been pleased to charge me with the care and supervision of your interests at Washington. Here, upon the theatre of Federal transactions, the importance of the approaching and impending crisis has forced itself upon my view, and I should have regarded myself as recreant to your interests, had I failed to bring the matter before you for consideration. I could never have ceased to reproach myself, had I silently permitted the power to pass away from your hands, of securing such permanent basis for your political relations as you may desire; or allowed you to become the ministers and instruments of a Southern suicide, by yielding the unchecked powers of Government to the North, without apprising you of the danger. My duty has been discharged, and I humbly ask your direction.
It may be thought by some, that I should, before closing, express the opinion of my own mind, as to what the occasion demands. Lest any one of my fellow citizens may be disappointed by my refraining from doing so, I will not hesitate to express clearly my own individual sentiments.
The irresistible conclusion to which my mind has come, after an anxious review of the whole ground, is, that duty to the South, and a proper policy on our own part, requires that we should enter the Union with Iowa, upon the terms of the bill reported, if we are able to maintain an independent Government, and that we should even submit to much sacrifice in doing so. I believe, that if we allow this opportunity to pass by, we shall hold our domestic rights at the mercy of the North; that all possibility of forming two Stales will pass away forever; that our admission as even one State, would in future be attended with the most violent conflict, and danger to the harmony and perpetuity of the Union ; that we should inflict a deadly blow upon the power of the South with the destinies of which we are indissolubly involved; and that our course, unless we show the most palpable reasons of inability to meet the expectations of our countrymen at this critical juncture, would excite a dissatisfaction, which would, I fear, be felt injuriously in our subsequent Territorial history. That our own interest, and the interest of the South, unite in recommending the policy of admission, there is no other consideration in my mind, and I freely, and candidly, declare the opinion. The other considerations not herein adverted to, but deeply connected to the general policy of the country, and of the South, and which will suggest themselves to all who have given to the existing state of Federal affairs that anxious attention which the times demand, combine to strengthen this conclusion. There are few, I am persuaded, who will not see reason for concurring in this conclusion, when they frankly and seriously canvass the subject in their own minds.
The main point by which, as it seems to me, we must be controlled is the ability of our people to maintain an independent Government. This rest, upon the conclusion to which each individual may come in his own mind as to whether his resources will enable him to meet his share of the burden without intolerable inconvenience ;and whether he is willing to incur the immediate sacrifices it will cost, in view of the present counterbalancing advantages, and future benefits. This is not a question of principle, but of fact and feeling, which addresses itself to each citizen, to be decided for himself. Of course, therefore, I express no opinion but respectfully submit the whole matter to the judgment of my fellow-citizen's, for such instruction to me as they may please to give. It is a question of expediency, and my course in respect to it will be determined altogether by the commands of those I represent.
In conclusion, fellow-citizens, 1 implore you to consider this subject as a Florida question, totally disconnected with all party considerations We have a duty of patriotism to perform, and at the altar of Patriotism, all American parties meet. Whether Whig or Republican, all are Americans, all Floridians. In considering, therefore, if we will minister to our country's good, by a temporary sacrifice of opinion and convenience, let us proceed to the decision with a grave appreciation of the responsibility that rests upon us, and a determination to separate so vital an issue from all the minor considerations of party difference, or party ascendancy. Above all, my fellow-citizens, let us so order our action upon the subject, that come what may in the future, there shall be no just cause either of self-reproach, or of condemnation by our peers of the South.
Your fellow-citizen, D. LEVY.
IN SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES, JUNE 17, 1844. Mr. Bagby made the following report :
The Committee on Territories, to which was referred resolutions of the Legislative Council of Florida, and of citizens of St. Johns county, Florida, praying for a division of said Territory, and the establishment of two separate territorial governments, have, unanimously, instructed me to report the following resolution :
Resolved, That the prayer of the memorialists ought not to be granted.
The above report was considered, and agreed to.
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES. Mr. A. V. Brown, from the Committee on Territories, made the following report: The Committee on Territories, to whom were referred certain resolutions of the legislative council of the Territory of Florida, respecting a division of said Territory, ask leave to report:
That the said resolutions, after setting forth sundry reasons m support of the policy and propriety of the measure they propose, proceed to ask the passage of a law dividing the Territory of Florida, and establishing two separate Territorial Governments, to be called, respectively. East and West Florida.
The committee, having given full and respectful consideration to the reasons suggested in the preamble of said resolutions, and the arguments advanced in the proceedings and memorial of a public meeting of the citizens of St. John's county, which were also referred to them, have come to the conclusion, that, although a sufficient ground exists for the erection of two States within the limits of the present Territory of Florida, it would be entirely out of the question, and inadmissible, to entertain for a moment a proposition to create two Territories there.
The whole policy of this Government, and all the principles upon which its institutions rest, are adverse to the long continuance of a Territorial Government over any portion of the citizens of the country. The right and the duty of self- government are fundamental maxims of the political system of America. The territorial organization, for purposes of local police over such portions of the public domain as are occupied by a population too weak to maintain the forms and exercise the prerogatives of an independent and sovereign organization, is never designed for other than a temporary purpose. It is contrary to a true policy, as well as to republican propriety, that a supreme and despotic rule should be held by this Government over any portion of the freemen of the land ; and if, from the necessity of the case, the Government has been obliged to prescribe regulations for, and exercise control over, the inhabitants of territories not included in the limits of any one of the sovereign States, it has been with the design of raising them, by its fostering care and protection, with as little delay as possible, to a condition in which they may be able to assert and assume that high privilege of self-government, which is the right of all men, and take their place as an independent community in the galaxy of American States. It is abhorrent to all the feelings and cherished principles of the freemen of this republic, that there should exist within its limits, for any length of time, or for any time not demanded by an unavoidable necessity, a community of free citizens, who, without participating in the conduct and control of this Government, should be completely subject to its will and dictation. Nor is it compatible with the feelings which should actuate every American, to submit, for one moment longer than necessity obliges, to a Government imposed by the will of others, and in the form or conduct of which the governed have no other direction or voice, than is allowed by the permission or favor of the governors. The committee, therefore, feel assured that the freemen of Florida, (whose bosoms they presume, of course, heave with all the same high impulses of liberty and manly aspirations for self-government which mark the character of the rest of their fellow-citizens, are as anxious to be rid of the burdens and tyranny of a territorial condition, as their fellow-citizens of the States are to relieve them. The States of this Union, exulting in the glory and happiness of their own sovereign and prosperous condition, have watched with anxiety the period when they might receive into equal confraternity, and hail into the circle of their Union, as an independent and free member of their political family, the bright star of the South. They have regretted the calamities which have attended the history, and embarrassed the progress, of this interesting portion of their countrymen; and, while sympathizing with them, have yet looked forward to a speedy day when the title of Floridian might serve to designate a citizen of a th e State of this Union, instead of an inhabitant of a subject and dependent community, enjoying no political rights, but reduced to receive as a boon whatever of the forms and benefits of free government a superior may vouchsafe.
The Territory of Florida was acquired in the year 1821, and a Territorial Government at once established. Twenty three years have now elapsed, during which this Government has incurred the expense and responsibility of governing its inhabitants. The period for which this relation of Territorial dependence has existed on the part of Florida, already far exceeds, with a single exception, what has ever occurred, or been permitted before, in the case of any other Territory of this Union. The committee know too well how to appreciate the manly and American character of the people of Florida, to believe for an instant that they have any disposition to barter their independence and the glorious and inspiring right of self-government, for the pecuniary benefits of a Territorial condition. They well know that the high souled people of Florida would spurn such motive. The freemen of no part of this country would be content to barter their liberties for dollars; and they feel well assured, therefore, that Florida, with her genial climate and teeming soil, harbors no spirits so base as to be lured to loiter in their onward course to the goal of free government by the little pebbles of grain which may lie scattered in the way. The committee are too deeply impressed with a sense of the degrading and injurious influences which a long habit of dependence is calculated to produce on the character of the people, .to think it all advisable on the part of this Government to protract for any considerable lime the relation of sovereign and subject as between this Government and the people of any part of its domain. The unexampled length to which the existence of this relation has extended in the case of Florida, may be attributed to a variety of causes some of which deeply appeal to the sympathies of the nation. But now that a bright dawn of prosperity begins to spread its joyous mantle over her sunny fields, it would be contrary to all the just hopes and expectations of the country, and to all the rules which have governed the policy of this nation in respect to Its territories, to sanction a measure which would postpone again for an indefinite period the termination of a Territorial Government there, and impose upon the States of this Union the expense and trouble of maintaining, during that period two Territorial organizations.
The steps which are being taken in the Territory of Iowa, preparatory to the adoption of a State Government, and the nature of the application by that Territory at that present session upon that subject, indicate a purpose to press for admission at the next session on this Congress. The practice has now, since the date of the Missouri compromise, very properly become one of settled policy to preserve, as nearly as possible, in one of the branches of the legislature of the Union, that balance of power between two of the great divisions of the republic, which is so important to the harmony and security of the whole, and to the permanency of the Union. It is right that every section of this happy and prosperous confederacy should not only be, but feel itself to be, secure against any unjust or unequal action of the Federal Legislature upon those of their interests which may in some wise conflict with the interests, policy, or prejudices of other portions. It is only desirable to be maintained by all just and conciliatory means. It is in view of these considerations that the committee have thought it proper to report the project of a bill for the admission of Florida, in the anticipation that the people of that Territory do not design to withdraw their application for admission, heretofore made, and the action upon which has been suspended, it is presumed, mainly in deference to the established practice above adverted to; but now, when Iowa is on the eve of placing herself by the side of her Southern sister, and of entering with her, in twin-like embrace, the portals of the glorious temple of the Union, it would be with great regret that a spirit should be perceived in generous and warm-hearted Florida to linger and retrace her steps.
In the project of the bill herewith reported, the committee have incorporated sundry liberal provisions, by which they believe the interests of the Government and the advantage of Florida will be mutually served. They regard these provisions as just in themselves, and conformable to that spirit of liberality and munificence which has always governed Congress upon the occasion of the admission of new States. The most important of the provisions contained in the bill, in a political point of view, is that which provides for a division of Florida into two States hereafter. This provision is due to the people of Florida, from the fact that the Territory, as now constituted, comprises within its limits what composed two separate provinces at the date of its acquisition; and. as is reasonably stated in the resolutions of the Legislature of Florida, the peculiar shape and physical features of the country would seem to render such division proper and convenient when the population should be such as to justify the measure. The line of division adopted for such event is the Suwannee river, although the Apalachicola river was, in fact, the boundary of the two former provinces. This has been done because it is the line proposed in the said resolutions, and is therefore presumed to be preferred by the people of Florida; and the bill provides for the previous assent of the people of each section; for, without the assent of the people inhabiting the country between the Apalachicola and Suwannee, they could not be transferred from their connection with East to West Florida, either now or hereafter, as it would be in violation of the spirit of the treaty under with the Territories were acquired. The population required to be inhabiting in each section at the date of the division is fixed at 35,000. because that was the ratio representation existing at the date of the treaty.
The committee are decided in their opinion that the creation of two Territories in Florida is inadmissible, and recommend the postponement of any definite action as to the admission of Florida as a State, until the application of Iowa to be admitted is brought up for action.
Bill for the admission of Florida into the Union, on certain conditions. Whereas a constitution having been adopted by the people of Florida, in convention, on the eleventh day of January, eighteen hundred and thirty-nine:
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That Florida shall be admitted as a State into this Union, on an equal footing with the original States, in all respects whatever, under the constitution aforesaid and upon the following fundamental conditions, namely : that the legislature of Florida shall pass an act, to be irrevocable without the consent of Congress disclaiming all title to the public domain of the United States, or any part the report, and all rin-lil to tax the same, and shall transmit to the President of the United Stales an authentic copy of the said act; upon the receipt whereof, the President, by proclamation shall announce the fact: whereupon, and without any further proceedings on the part of Congress, the admission of same State into this Union shall be considered as
Sec. 2 And be it further enacted, That, until otherwise provided by Congress or authorized by a new apportionment under the census, the said State shall be entitled to one Representative in the House of Representatives of the United States.
Sec 3 And be it further enacted. That said State shall embrace the Territories of East and West Florida, which, by the treaty of amity, settlements, and limits between the United States and his Catholic Majesty, on the twenty-second day of February, anno Domini eighteen hundred and nineteen, were ceded to the United Slates.
Soc 4. And be it further enacted, That section number sixteen in every township, or other lands equivalent thereto, shall be granted to the State for the use of the inhabitants of such township, for the use of schools; also eight entire sections of land for the purpose of fixing their seat of government, to be selected by the Legislature of said State; also two entire townships of land, in addition to the two townships already reserved for the use of two seminaries of learning-one to be located east , and the other west of the Suwannee river ; also five per centum of the net proceeds of the sale of said State, which shall be hereafter sold by Congress after deducting all expenses incident to the same; and which said net proceeds shall be applied by said State for the purposes of education.
Sec. 5. And be it further enacted. That for the relief of those of the citizens of Florida who have been impoverished by the depredations of Indians during the recent Seminole hostilities, there be granted to said State townships of land, to be selected within the limits of said State, in such manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, and located in parcels conformably to sectional divisions and subdivisions of not less than three hundred and twenty acres in any one location : Provided, That the whole of said grant shall be applied in such manner, and according to such rule of distribution as the Legislature of said State shall provide, to the indemnification of distribution to the inhabitants of Florida who have sustained loss of property since the first day of November, anno Domini eighteen hundred and thirty-five, by reason of the Seminole hostilities in said Territory
Sec. 6. And be it further enacted, That whenever Florida shall have been fully admitted as a State of the Union, it shall be lawful for the Legislature of Said State to pass a law dividing the State of Florida into two States, making the Suwannee river the dividing line; and all that portion of Florida east of the Suwannee river shall be designated as East Florida; and all that portion designated as East Florida shall be admitted as a State, by the name of the State of East Florida; and all that portion designated as West Florida shall be admitted as a State, by the name of the State of West Florida, without any further proceedings on the part of Congress: Provided, nevertheless, That the fundamental conditions prescribed in the first section of this act shall be continued in force after the division as aforesaid, in the same manner as prior thereto: And provided also, that said act providing for the division as aforesaid, shall not be passed by the Legislature as aforesaid, except with the assent of the majority of the members of the Senate and House of Representatives of the Legislature of Florida, east as well as west of the Suwannee river; nor until it shall have been ascertained, by a census taken under the authority of the State of Florida, that the population, east was well as west of the Suwannee river, shall exceed thirty-five thousand: and each of said States shall be entitled to one Representative in the House of Representatives of Congress, until otherwise provided by Congress, or authorized by a new apportionment under the census: And provided, further, That the constitutions adopted for such new States shall be republican in their form.